The Probable, Possible, and Unlikely: Disney Trailers at the Superbowl

This season, the NFL has experienced a resurgence of its TV ratings on a game by game basis all year. After a crazy weekend of AFC and NFC championship games, the match up has been set as the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams will face off in Atlanta on February 3rd. This match up could lead to the greatest Superbowl, ratings wise, we have seen in the last decade. With that potential, ad-buyers are going to be aggressive this year, and one of those buyers has the most to show. That buyer is of course Disney and they have the most blockbuster potential films that either have or have not had footage released for those films at all. Below is a list of what I expect we will see, what we might see, and what will most likely fall by the wayside, as well as all of the trailers that have released for the films on this list so far. Shall we begin?

The Probable

Coming up in the three months following the Superbowl, Disney has four, count them, FOUR, major releases planned. Two of those in March with Captain Marvel and Dumbo; One in April with Avengers: Endgame; and one in May with Aladdin. These are the films with the most importance for Disney at this time of year. Major teasers or full trailers for each have released already meaning Disney only has to put together 30 seconds to a minute of TV spots for each. But lets dive in to each film’s case and see if any of them could slip out of the Superbowl window.

Captain Marvel – March 6

If there is not a TV spot or small teaser for Captain Marvel at the Superbowl, I would be shocked; it simply makes no sense. Captain Marvel is the last of the origin story films in Marvel Studios lineup and it is the first featuring a female lead. With it being the closest film to release after the Superbowl, I can almost guarantee we will see something. The marketing window for this film was always going to ramp up to 150% in February, no better place to start than the Superbowl. Likelihood of appearance: 99.9%

Dumbo – March 29

Dumbo is the first of the so called live action remakes for Disney coming out this year and another March release which means we’re almost assured for an appearance from Tim Burton’s next film. Also keep in mind that Dumbo currently has the lowest profile of any major Disney release coming out this year, and Disney struggled to garner attention for A Wrinkle in Time at this time last year. If Disney wants to try and avoid a repeat of last year, they might try to push Dumbo more than even Captain Marvel. Both are big family films, but Dumbo will need to reach the kids more than Captain Marvel to have big box office success and the Superbowl is the best opportunity they have right now. Regardless of what they show, rest assured that Tim Burton’s name will be plastered over everything. Likelihood of Appearance: 100%

Avengers: Endgame – April 26

This is my most anticipated film of the entire year, much less just from Disney. Avengers Endgame is the the finale to everything that has been building up in the MCU. It is the final entry in the character arcs of Captain America and Iron Man and it is the resolution to Thanos’ successful quest to obtain all of the Infinity gems to wipe out half of all live across the galaxy. This is the biggest movie that Marvel Studios has ever put together and Disney will want to get far ahead on the promotion schedule. However, due to the fact that Captain Marvel is a prequel to anything else that has taken place in the MCU, outside of Captain America: The First Avenger, Disney and Marvel will also be wary of spoilers for either film. I do not think it means they will skip showing off anything from Avengers, but I do think it means they will do something similar to last years Infinity War Superbowl spot which is to put out a smaller re-cut of the most recent trailer with one or two new quick frames to keep all of us that are chomping at the bit for fresh content satiated. Likelihood of Appearance: 85%


Aladdin – May 24

Aladdin is the second major live action to remake to come out for Disney this year and its case is a strange one. We received one shorter teaser trailer a few months ago now and only an EW Cover Feature since then. Of the films I have chosen to put in the probable section of this list, this is the least likely to show up at the Superbowl seeing as it is near time for the first main trailer to come out and I don’t see Disney buying such a large ad spot for a film that is fourth on the release chart for this year. I could be wrong about that, but the most I think we see is a minute spot that reveals Will Smith’s Genie at the end. I don’t think he speaks, I think we just see him and then cut to black screen with May 24 lit up. With all of that said though, when the trailer and images were released I saw a lot of criticism for how cheap this film looks translated to the screen. If Disney wants to get ahead of that stigma settling, they will release something of greater significance. Here is to hoping. Likelihood of Appearance: 80%

The Possible

Toy Story 4 – June 20

The summer that features the return of all of our favourite toys Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the gang is a warm one indeed with another entry in the Toy Story franchise. Many fans out there still maintain that the third installment was the perfect conclusion to the Woody/Andy story, and I would absolutely agree, but those same fans use that as a reasoning to complain about this film’s existence. After all, why keep going if the ending was already perfect. In the case of Toy Story, I think you can have the perfect ending to the trilogy while also allowing for a fresh beginning. So far we have seen one teaser trailer that featured the inclusion of a toy that was crafted from a seemingly random collection of household items. Intrigue abounds for what this sequel is actually about and for that reason I think we are going to get another smaller sized teaser for this film at the Superbowl. Much like, and perhaps more so than Dumbo, Toy Story 4 is explicitly intended for a younger audience and Disney will be more than aware to tailor some of their ad budget towards kids and I think it starts with Dumbo and continues strong with this film. Simply, never underestimate the power of your imagination. Likelihood of Appearance: 65%


The Lion King – July 19

Outside of Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King CGI remake is poised to be the most financially successful film Disney releases this year and perhaps the most financially successful film of the year. The love for Lion King was felt around the world when the first trailer dropped and revealed the updated beginning scene with key song Circle of Life ringing out and Rafiki the baboon lifting up baby Simba on the top of Pride Rock. The Lion King was a film I was going back and forth on whether or not Disney would choose to show more footage at the Superbowl, but because the original animated film is so beloved and the anticipation for this remake is the highest than it has been for any of the other Disney live action re-dos, they might want to really capture the live audience in a deep well of emotion in Atlanta. Obviously showing it households is important too, but if going into halftime the Circle of Life song rings out and they even just replay the first teaser on the big stadium screen, it would be a special moment that people will remember. That is why I put the likelihood of appearance a bit higher for a film that is a little bit farther out. Likelihood of Appearance: 60%

Artemis Fowl – August 9

Artemis Fowl is a strange one to make a call on. The book series by Eoin Colfer was insanely popular in the early 2000’s when they came out and I was still in grade school. Rumors of a film adaptation have gone around for as long as I can remember and until now production never came around to happening. It has been a long time since the books were a big topic of discussion meaning that the clout of the name is probably diminished and the interest in an adaptation with it. If Disney wants to make Fowl into a big time kids film series like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, than they would be wise to show new footage at the Superbowl and start to generate interest. If more kids get a chance to see the trailer now, they might find the book now as well and would have enough time to finish it before the movie comes out and you can initiate a new generation of fans for this series. Likelihood of Appearance: 50%


The Unlikely

Frozen 2 – November 27

The year of Frozen 2 is finally upon us after what will be a seven year wait when it arrives this November. While many fans have this film on their most anticipated films for this year, Disney has yet to show a teaser much less a full trailer for the film yet. The Superbowl could be a nice spot to let it drop, allowing the hype train to gain steam early. Remember, Frozen is still Disney’s highest earning animated film worldwide not adjusted for inflation at $1.276 billion, and if the story and songs in the sequel are even close to the quality of the original, that high money mark could be broken once again. In reality though, I think Disney continues to hold off in order to focus marketing dollars on the films closer in their release schedule. If I were to guess, a teaser trailer will be ready to drop just before Aladdin makes it to theaters. Likelihood of Appearance: 5%

Star Wars: Episode IX – December 20

If Disney and Lucasfilm were to release a short teaser trailer for the finale of this current trilogy of Star Wars films, I think I would scream in excitement. J.J. Abrams is back in the directing chair after Rian Johnson took top duties for The Last Jedi. While I loved The Last Jedi and think it is a top tier Star Wars film, many fans are still left with a bad taste in their mouth after watching it and Solo: A Star Wars Story from last summer. Abrams was able to make an exciting and fresh film out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he did rely too much on emulating Episode IV: A New Hope. I am hoping that he steers away from that impulse to emulate Episode VI: Return of the Jedi this time and tries to make something of his own, akin to the originality of his 2012 film Super 8. In terms of a trailer showing up at the Superbowl, this has the unlikeliest of chances, especially considering that Star Wars Celebration is coming up in April in Chicago which is where the first trailer for The Last Jedi showed up. However, Abrams and Lucasfilm did release a teaser for The Force Awakens a year away from the film’s release so there is some hope. Likelihood of Appearance: 1%


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