Sony finally released an official teaser for their upcoming anti-superhero film, Venom. And nobody’s happy about it. Nor should they be.
Similar to Lucasfilm’s recently released Solo trailer, the Venom video provides a bit of narration (from star Tom Hardy), some location shots, and a several moments of understated action… but unlike Solo, there’s no appearance by the character everyone’s been breathlessly waiting to see.
That’s right, the Venom teaser does not contain an appearance by Venom — not even a mention of his name.
What was Sony thinking?
Venom‘s director, Ruben Fleischer, appeared at Brazil Comic Con Experience in January, where fans hoped he would reveal (at least) a 3D-rendered image of the character. No such luck. Instead, Hardy video-bombed his way into Fleischer’s Q&A, talking up the character and all the cool stuff they’re doing. Bless those Brazilians, they cheered and clapped their Marvel-loving hearts out.
Stateside fans were not as kind. Fleischer and Hardy’s appearance was a genuinely fun moment, but also kind of a let down. Reddit and countless discussion boards overflowed with apprehension and concern — fans needed to be assured that Sony could pull this movie off. However, despite all of the groans and sighs, everyone resigned to give Sony a pass.
Surely Sony wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Right?
I guess we should have known better. Today’s teaser release presented Sony with a crucial opportunity to build upon all of the pre-existing hype and anticipation. There’s nothing else going on in Hollywood at the moment, which meant that Sony could blow the lid off the Internet with a Venom reveal… at least for a few days. Even the tiniest glimpse would do it. But it was not to be.
And now the Internet is slamming Sony for their ommission.
Sony was already working uphill with this movie, they could not afford to squander such opportunities. Venom is a Spider-Man villain, but his R-rated film won’t be connected to the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and it won’t contain or otherwise reference Spider-Man himself. Sony mitigated this by hiring a fantastic cast, a solid director, and leveraging two fan-approved comic storylines (“Lethal Protector” and “Planet of the Symbiotes”). And now all the goodwill they’ve cultivated is flying out the window.
Sony probably had legitimate reasons for not showing Venom. CBR and Polygon are suggesting that maybe the visual effects weren’t ready yet, or perhaps they were seeking to suppress spoilers, or they’re simply saving the reveal for some point further down the road. Whatever. Nobody cares. Opportunity lost.
The summer movie season gets started next week with Black Panther, which means the superhero noise level is about to jump to eleven (until at least July, when Ant-Man and the Wasp closes it out). Venom is due to hit theaters on October 5 — they’ve got less than eight months to build momentum. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what a teaser should do, and this teaser doesn’t get it done.
Marketing puts butts into seats, that’s a fact. Sony had the Internet all to itself, and let it slip away — they’ve lost the conversation. Ultimately, if Venom is a good movie, comic book fans will turn up. But Sony needs more than the hardcore base to support this film; they need mainstream, mass market audiences to buy into Venom, if it’s going to do Deadpool-sized business (the gold standard in R-rated films).
Eight months from now, Sony’s going to wish they had spent a few bucks for a quality 3D render. It’s silly to think that a static image could satisfy a ravenous base, but that’s fandom for you. Good luck to you Sony, you’re gonna need it.