Disney Is Taking a Very Different Marketing Approach With ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

February 5, 2018, 2:42 PM UTC

Disney and Lucasfilm have finally released the official teaser trailer to the next film in the Star Wars franchise, Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The studio actually already released a 46-second teaser to the teaser trailer during the Super Bowl on Sunday, promising via Twitter that a “full” teaser trailer would follow on Monday morning with a little bit of Disney synergy on Good Morning America.

Clocking in at one minute and 43 seconds, the teaser provides some desired first looks at the cast, comprised of familiar characters with new actors (like Donald Glover as the young Lando Calrissian‬ and Han Solo himself, now played by Alden Ehrenreich) and brand new additions, such as Westworld‘s Thandie Newton and Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke. Woody Harrelson also makes an appearance in what has been reported will be a mentor-like role to Solo, and that indeed appears to be the case when Harrelson’s character says he’s “putting a crew together.”

Disney also dialed up the social media buzz a bit further with four new teaser posters, one of which reveals the name of Clarke’s character, Qira.

While the release of both teasers will undoubtedly have critics and fans buzzing on social media, the timing of these releases represent a radically different marketing approach for Disney’s tentpole franchise.

For starters, Solo: A Star Wars Story is slated to be in theaters on May 25, less than five full months after the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December. That marks the shortest time frame between the release of any Star Wars film ever. (For reference, there was at least a year between Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and then another year between Rogue One and The Last Jedi.)

The short gap between Star Wars films appears to be falling in step with the release schedule Disney has evolved with movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For example, Black Panther comes out this month but Avengers: Infinity War will be in theaters in May, too.

But it’s also unusual that Disney waited so long to release any kind of trailer or images at all for Solo with less than four months to go before the movie comes out. Like with anything in the Star Wars universe, there have been a few theories as to why Disney’s marketing rollout has been so slow going compared to the usual media blitz.

One: It’s possible that Disney is testing the waters, hesitant to oversaturate the scene with too many Star Wars movies at once. Most movie-goers are already used to the proliferation of Marvel movies at this point, the Mouse House might be afraid of some space overkill.

Two: Like Rogue One, Solo has had some production issues—but to a much more extreme point in that Lucasfilm fired the film’s original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, for any one of a few rumored reasons. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy replaced them with Hollywood veteran Ron Howard, who knows the studio game well and knows how to play by studio rules. (In a similar fashion, Lucasfilm parted ways with its director slated for Episode IX, Colin Trevorrow, in September, replacing him with a director tried-and-true to Lucasfilm: The Force Awakens’s J.J. Abrams. But the final installment of the main Skywalker saga won’t be out until December 2019.)

Reshoots on movies, large and small, are common. But it has been reported that by the time Howard got on board, much of the film had to be reshot and start from scratch. Such a scramble would have been reasonable cause enough to push the release back to December—in line with the previous three Star Wars releases—but Disney seems dead-set on getting this out the door (and maybe in the rearview mirror altogether) by the original May date. Thus, showable footage might not have been available until just now anyway.

It has been joked that Star Wars films are a license to print money, and after the last three Star Wars movies, Disney (DIS) has already made back its money in buying Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion. Demand for Star Wars films is still astronomically high, but the expectations for Solo in Reddit forums and on Twitter have been lukewarm (pardon the pun) at best, and Disney might not have an incentive to raise them any further.