Super Bowl movie trailers: Studios are getting stingy with the new stuff

Hoping for Dune, Black Widow or James Bond footage? The big game may not deliver a touchdown for movie fans.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
5 min read

Black Widow and James Bond may or may not show up during the Super Bowl. Good ol' SpongeBob is confirmed, though.


Sure, millions will tune in Sunday for the Super Bowl. Some will watch for the vaunted commercials, which will include a funeral for Planters mascot Mr. Peanut. Some will tune in for the star-studded halftime show, featuring Shakira, J.Lo and a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. Some people might even be interested in the game itself. 

But for others, it's all about the blockbuster entertainment trailers, traditionally for movies, but now also for streaming TV series, that will debut to a gigantic worldwide audience during the big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. 

Many of the companies spending millions to advertise during the Super Bowl have already released their commercials. (We showcase them here.) But the studios have been more tight-lipped about their movie previews this year. As of Friday, only a few Super Bowl movie trailers or promises of one are out there. 

On Friday morning, Disney released a "big game sneak peek" of the live-action Mulan remake that feels a lot like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

On Thursday, the Sonic The Hedgehog "big game preview" popped up. It wraps a trailer inside of a more standard commercial with athletes praising Sonic's speed.

A Quiet Place Part II, the horror movie about monsters attracted to any sound, dropped its pregame ad early, though most of it was in earlier sneak peeks.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run trailer was released Wednesday, but that trailer is running before, not during the game, so it may not quite count as a Super Bowl trailer to purists.

Super Bowl trailer landscape is changing

Anton Volkov, who runs the popular movie-news Twitter account and website Trailer Track, notes that movie studios seem to have changed their approach to the big game in recent years.

At the 2018 Super Bowl, a heart-stopping trailer for Mission: Impossible Fallout debuted, and fans marveled at Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt dangling off a helicopter, racing through Paris on a motorcycle, and getting pummeled in a bathroom. Volkov calls it one of the biggest and best Super Bowl trailers of recent years.

"But now, it seems [that] getting substantial new footage from a film like that -- a full trailer -- is rare," he said."It's almost all short spots for films that are coming out in the coming weeks, like [Sonic The Hedgehog] or The Invisible Man." 

Some of the bigger films seem to be skirting the big game. Volkov points out that the Fast & Furious car-chase series dropped its Hobbs & Shaw trailer before, not during, the 2019 Super Bowl, and plans to do the same this year with Fast & Furious 9. 

The F9 trailer premiered at a Miami concert Friday, so its Super Bowl appearance might be anticlimactic.

We want Black Widow! And Bond!

Fans constantly tweet at Volkov begging for news about highly anticipated trailers, and there's a clear trend to what they're hoping to see: anything from Disney/Marvel -- and lots of action.

Disney and Marvel have been the "staple of the big game, and people are hoping for Black Widow footage," Volkov said. 

Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the Marvel superhero, is due in theaters May 1. But Volkov said that because the studio released a second TV spot for Black Widow in mid-January, fans may not get a new trailer during the game.

And what about good old 007?

"Hopes are still sort of there for No Time to Die -- despite seeming confirmation that MGM hasn't bought airtime," Volkov said. He admits that he, too, has "massive hopes" to see a fresh preview of Daniel Craig's fifth and final Bond film, but he's not expecting it.

The Super Bowl is the "perfect opportunity for a new trailer, and the first time in years a Bond film is coming out to take advantage of the event," he says. "However, reports so far suggest that it's not happening."

Want a little more Tom Cruise with your touchdowns? He's reprising his role as cocky pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 hit Top Gun, and Volkov's readers are hoping for a Sunday flyby.

Deadline's report of possible new Top Gun Maverick footage is "generating some excitement for sure," he said.

Don't expect Dune

Some movie fans are bound to be disappointed on Sunday.

"I've been getting tons of questions about Dune, which has zero chance for two reasons," Volkov said, speaking of the Denis Villeneuve reboot of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic. "The film isn't out until December, and I don't think we've ever seen a Super Bowl debut of the first footage for a film that far out. And secondly, it's Warner Bros. They haven't advertised at the Super Bowl for over a decade." 

Volkov thinks Dune fans may have to wait for summer to get a peek at that film.

TV trailers are a thing now

One Super Bowl trailer isn't for a movie, but for a new streaming TV series. Amazon has released its Super Bowl trailer for Hunters, a show set in a 1977 America in which neo-Nazis are trying to set up a Fourth Reich in the US.

"I haven't been following the [TV trailer] situation as closely," Volkov says. "But with things like The Twilight Zone last year or Stranger Things, series on TV and streaming are no stranger to the big game."

And since Disney's streaming service, Disney Plus, made its debut late in 2019, that could open up a whole new avenue for entertainment trailers. Volkov has seen plenty of speculation that the Super Bowl could showcase some of the new series coming to the service, which include WandaVision, Loki, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

"An interesting thing that many are speculating about at the moment is Disney using the game to debut footage from the Disney Plus Marvel shows," he said. "Disney Plus and the studio-owned streamers are uncharted territory when it comes to the Super Bowl."

Ready for some football?

Volkov thinks that the Super Bowl heyday for movie trailers may have come and gone. But don't change the channel just yet, movie fans.

The Super Bowl "remains a major event for sure, and probably the biggest US television advertising coup there is," he said.

The Super Bowl airs on Sunday, Feb. 2, with the pregame show beginning at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET on Fox.

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Originally published Jan. 31.