After months of press photos, instagram pictures from the cast, and interviews about what it’s like to inhabit these types of fairy tales icons, the first official trailer for Into the Woods dropped today. The above video is the Australian version, but outside of the brief AU disclaimers at the beginning the content remains the same. Unsurprisingly, I have thoughts. It’s a well done piece of marketing to be sure, except for the one thing that Disney apparently hoped would escape everyone’s notice: that not a single one of the many characters in a trailer for one of the most anticipated musical adaptations is actual, you know, singing. This isn’t something that we should be surprised with coming from Disney and their marketing team, as they apparently would prefer no one to realize that this star-stocked film contains any sort of song. Especially considering that Into the Woods has one of the most pleasing and entertaining title tracks in the history of musical theater. Look, I understand that most Disney executives have their heads in the sand when it comes to the fact that greenlighting a musical may have been a good move for their bottom line but the fact that they seem not to understand the Frozen box office returns were in spite of that film’s music-less marketing not because of that strategy is staggeringly dumb. Furthermore, the trailer all but screams that the movie is a musical with the inclusion of director and producer chyrons for Rob Marshall (“from the director of Chicago”) and Marc Platt (“from the producer of Wicked”). If anyone is smart enough to read further into the cast, it could not be more obvious that this could possibly contain some singing. Anna Kendrick and James Corden both have extensive backgrounds in musical theater, and if Johnny Depp is appearing in a fairy tale movie you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be singing.
Even with this inexplicable music killing strategy being perpetrated by an obviously insane promotional department, the trailer as a whole is admittedly well done. The fairy tale-esque music used throughout works wonders as a form of world building. The score has all the chime elements that you would imagine a fairy tale to require, and the slow addition of strings and horns as the trailer progresses builds fanfare so effective that it feels as if the arrival of the movie is actually the birth of the heir to one of these magical kingdoms. The concept of the film (characters made popular by The Brothers Grimm inhabit the same universe and interact) may not be familiar to everyone in the audience Disney is targeting and while not entirely necessary to sell people on the idea of Anna Kendrick running around in a ballgown, introducing people to the uniqueness of overlapping stories early is a smart choice. The sequential “I wish…” clips from Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack (of beanstalk fame), and the Baker and his wife not only cue the audience in to how the story might be built but also specifically which characters will sure to be involved. I would be excited for this movie no matter what trailer was released today, but I bet for anyone who might be on the fence about seeing this in theaters the energy and enjoyment palpable in this first look would be more than enough to get them in a seat for a holiday season outing with the family.
Some other quick thoughts:
- I would pay $18 for this movie even if the entire thing was just Chris Pine walking casually around the woods in that costume. Oh my damn does he look good in those few seconds.
- James Corden has had a nice little understated run in the past year. Once known only for British shows like “Gavin and Stacy”, the last year or so has yielded Into the Woods, Begin Again, One Chance, and The Wrong Mans. Not bad for an actor who has some of the best on-screen charisma in the business but has been criminally underrated thus far.
- The birds-eye view of Cinderella’s dress being formed from straw is just a glimpse of what is sure to be some of the best cinematography of the year next year. Dion Beebe’s last film was this year’s blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see how some of his more unique stylings will adapt to a less action oriented film.
- Notoriously, I am not a general fan of Meryl Streep except for a few instances (I know I know, yell at me about it later) but it looks like ItW might be one I like from her. Granted, that has a lot to do with how large an ensemble is involved here but we shall see how I feel come January.
- This still is by far my favorite thing to come of this trailer. I am always here for Baranski.
My excitement is ratcheting up by the day, and you can a metric ton of promotional materials will come fast and furious from this point on all the way up to its release on New Year’s Day. How is everyone else feeling? Were you planning on seeing the movie before this trailer, or has this clued you in to something fun that you had no previous idea was coming?