An early marketing plan for Prey would have made the movie more exciting, but it would have been nearly impossible to pull off. Prey brought the Predator franchise back to its roots, with plenty of suspense and action that do the Yautja justice. Prey also celebrates Comanche culture, language, and history, which elevates the movie beyond a simple retread of the original. However, one small yet significant change in the movie's marketing could have made it even better.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Like the original Predator, Prey plays with the Yautja's offscreen presence, starting with the creature's introduction as a fully invisible threat. The movie takes its time to reveal the creature's full appearance, and it focuses on Naru's efforts to fight back, primarily from her perspective. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch, Naru eventually flips the roles, killing the Predator using her patience and wits soon after it is unmasked.
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The feral Yautja's gradual progression from predator to prey is effective by itself. However, it could have been enhanced by an ambitious marketing plan. In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, director Dan Trachtenberg revealed that he wanted Prey's early marketing to have no connections to the Predator franchise. Only after the basic premise was set up, and only after 2018's The Predator was released, would Prey have revealed its villain with footage from its bear sequence, where the Predator is first revealed. Undoubtedly, this creative strategy would have created buzz around Prey's true nature, but when it comes to practicality, it wouldn't have been viable.
Why Prey's Original Surprise Predator Plan Couldn't Happen
As shocking as it would have been to see a brand-new Predator pop up in a seemingly unrelated movie, hiding such a big twist long enough to create enough buzz is highly unfeasible, even for big-name productions. Movies need to distribute lots of material before release, including trailers, teasers, posters, interviews, and plot synopses. Not only is it almost impossible to guarantee that secret twists won't come out, but limiting all marketing to a small portion of the movie's footage vastly reduces its pull. There is also a lot at stake for the people behind the scenes, and ignoring a Predator movie's main draw could risk losing the general audience's attention.
A similar situation happened with James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Cameron intended to hide Arnold Schwarzenegger's heroic role and frame Robert Patrick's T-1000 as the good guy in the trailers so, when the movie came out, viewers would be shocked to see the first movie's villain becoming the hero. Unfortunately, the twist was spoiled early in Terminator 2's marketing run, with the first trailer revealing the twist 40 seconds in.
Some movies suffer from this problem more than others, to the point that some trailers for movies such as Cast Away and Shutter Island have spoiled huge third-act plot twists unnecessarily. On the other hand, vague teasers can raise expectations at first, but once the release dates come close, it becomes too difficult to maintain the mystery. Fortunately, Dan Trachtenberg didn't need to implement this strategy, as Prey has been a critical and commercial hit by word of mouth alone.