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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

An Examination of Amazon's WoT Marketing


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This fandom is absolutely rabid for information concerning the upcoming television series. In this essay, I'll explore the history of Amazon's Wheel of Time marketing and what it might tell us about when we might expect a trailer. What follows is very lengthy, so I've broken it down into four sections: pre-COVID (October 2018 - March 2020), the COVID hiatus (March - September 2020), filming resumes (September 2020 - present), and end with my analysis of what it all means. 

 

Pre-COVID:

Amazon officially announced the production of Wheel of Time on October 2, 2018. The official series Twitter page debuted on November 28, 2018 by announcing the Season One writer's room. That tweet was followed by the announcement of a fan art contest that ran through January 2019. In December, Celine Song was announced as one of the writers. This post marked the first use of the "WoTWednesday" hashtag by the official Twitter account. (It should be noted that Judkins used #WoTWednesday on his own prior to the show being greenlit and sporadically thereafter).

 

In January 2019, the contest winners were announced as well as two more writers - Mike and Paul Clarkson. This was followed in February by the announcement of Uta Briesewitz as one of the directors. Both of these announcements were made via retweets of posts by Judkins on his own Twitter page. The Briesewitz announcement was picked up by Deadline Hollywood, who posted a story about it that same day.

 

March began a long drought of information. Other than Wheel of Time winning a Prime Video twitter poll about the most anticipated book adaptation in development on Prime, there were no posts until June. The reason for this drought, Judkins explained in April, was that new rules were being created for the Twitter feed - a tacit admission that Amazon would be tightly controlling the release of information concerning the show.

 

June 2019 saw the beginning of what could be described as the official marketing campaign with the announcement that Rosamund Pike had been cast as Moiraine. Deadline Hollywood posted a story about Pike's casting the same day. Judkins also announced the official resumption of WoTWednesday, promising Wednesday content releases.  Judkins followed up the Pike casting announcement in July with a brief Q&A session on Instagram and Twitter related to Pike's casting. In August, the castings of the Emond's Field five were announced in a series of tweets and accompanied by another article in an industry publication - this time, Variety.

 

Filming on the series began in September 2019. The trend of casting announcements continued that month as well with the announcement that Daniel Henney would play Lan. Amazon also released a short tribute video to Robert Jordan on the anniversary of his death and a set photo of a gnarly looking goat. 

 

The table read video - arguably the single most informational piece of information released to date - came in October 2019 and set internet sleuths everywhere abuzz trying to identify all of the participants. That video was followed in November by the announcement that Michael McElhatton would play Tam Al'Thor and in December with the casting announcments for Logain, Loial, Thom, Fain, and Alanna and her warders Maksim and Ihvon. The latter news was broken on 12/23 in an article by Deadline Hollywood. Importantly, Judkins announced that month,

Quote

"WoTonPrime will no longer do #WoTWednesday and instead will give updates photos and more on any day of the week as new info comes out using #wotonprime".

Coming just as Block 1 filming began to wrap, this announcement likely signaled a change in marketing strategy with many anticipating a release in the fall of 2020.  January and February 2020 gave us two new set photos as well as table read photos introducing five new actors (but not their roles). Then something happened...

 

The COVID Hiatus:

As the world went into COVID lockdown and production shut down, Amazon found the need to pivot to a new strategy. Thus, at the end of March, the WoT Book Club was born. From the end of March to the beginning of September, the Twitter account hosted a virtual book club working through "Eye of the World" on Twitter complete with polls and discussion questions. Along the way, cast members were announced - often at or near the time the characters appeared in the books. The COVID hiatus produced casting announcements for the Al'Vere family and Cenn Buiethe Cauthon family and Daise CongerEamon Valda and Geofram Bornhaldthe Grinwells and "Dana"Basel Gillthe Tinker family Ila, Raen and Aram; Siuan; Min; Kerene and her warder Stepin; and Liandrin.

 

Filming Resumes:

Two days after filming resumed in the Czech Republic, fans were treated to a short video showing the Winespring Inn set, followed by a brief Q&A with Rafe. In October, the official account tweeted about Robert Jordan's birthday and released a brief sound teaser confirmed to include the voices of Egwene and Perrin.  Nothing at all happened in November. Speculation was (and remains) rampant about the status of filming with conflicting reports about whether production had wrapped. Amazon chose to remain silent, neither confirming nor denying reports of a shut down.

 

In December things changed dramatically. Amazon released two short videos detailing the creation of important props: Tam's heron marked sword and Thom Merrilin's guitar. The latter video, entitled "something new" was retweeted by the Sony Television Pictures account marking the first time that Sony ever promoted Wheel of Time content. Rafe Judkins did brief Q&A's with each release. Additionally, the Twitter account began actively engaging with fans. For comparison, prior to December the account had a total of 93 posts in the 2 year period between November 2018 and November 2020 an average of just less than 4 posts per month. [Book club posts are not counted in that tally for reasons explained below]. In December 2020 alone, the official Twitter account made 80 posts, often engaging directly with fans using the "Twitter of Time" hashtag.

 

That trend continued into this month. In addition to 48 posts (as of this writing), Amazon released an official concept art video (once again retweeted by Sony) and Rafe Judkins made a brief guest appearance in the Dusty Wheel livestream on YouTube to answer questions.

 

What Does it Mean?

In my mind, all signs point to an upcoming trailer (I predict Super Bowl) and release of the show. Let me explain why I believe that. The pre-COVID period was pretty standard: (1) series is greenlit; (2) director is announced; (3) big star is announced; (4) main cast is announced. Aside from these announcements (all picked up by industry publications like Variety and Deadline), hard core fans get minor teases that are mostly set photos and more obscure castings.

 

Remember, filming was due to finish in May 2020 before COVID screwed everything up. The WoT Book Club was pretty clearly not a planned thing, but rather a stopgap measure to keep fans engaged during the break in shooting. The casting announcements made during this time were basically unremarkable, minor characters with the exceptions of Min and Siuan - both of whom were announced after filming was already scheduled to resume. 

 

The promotional materials that have been released since September: the Winespring Inn, sound teaser, sword, guitar, and concept art all mark a shift in marketing. These brief videos are the sort of thing that often appear in 'behind the scenes' reels typically packaged to appear at the end of episodes or as add-ons to a show's release. While lots of filming for these segments occurs simultaneously with production, post-production work on these sort of extras is unlikely to occur while the team is still working on post production for the main show. The concept art video, in particular, contains a portion of an obviously longer interview with Judkins about the process of adapting the books. Sony amplifying the releases adds further credence to the idea that the show is approaching release. There's simply no reason to release this stuff if the final product is still many months away - not when the fanbase could be kept (relatively) satisfied with set photos or costume photos.

 

Similarly, the high rate of fan engagement speaks to something more imminent. It seems unlikely that Amazon would engage in a social media strategy that subjects the social media manager to the equivalent of thousands of kids asking "are we there yet?" all day every day for months on end. Such a strategy would quickly yield diminishing returns and could risk a backlash from rabid fans who feel they've been left hanging. 

 

It is far more logical that the increasing activity is a signal that Amazon is gearing up for something. A formal announcement about the release date and a bonafide trailer are the obvious choices. The only question is when that might occur.

Since we know that (1) Wheel of Time is a high budget project; (2) it boasts a recognizable, a-list star in Rosamund Pike and; (3) People associated with the show have raved about the visual effects. For instance, in March Judkins engaged in this Q&A:

Quote

Q: How are you planning to handle the visualization of the weaves? Any little tidbits?
A: We are trying to stay as true to the books as possible. I’ve been giving a bunch of VFX folks long diatribes about channeling, weaves, threads, earth vs. air, etc and they early stuff has started coming in. It looks FUCKING AWESOME. I screamed when Rosamund started channeling

Amazon's studio boss Jennifer Salke said, "the material coming out of production looks incredible".

 

What forum makes the most sense to debut footage of a high budget show with a recognizable star and amazing visual footage? Clearly, it's the Super Bowl. The huge audience ensures the maximum possible buzz. If the show really does look as amazing as Rafe claims, Wheel of Time will instantly become one of the most - if not the most - anticipated shows of 2021. The best part? It's only 2 weeks away!!

 

So... what do y'all think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think I’m not a fan of American Football and I have never watched the Super Bowl and i have got no idea whether we get to see the 1/2 time Adds on Australian TV, i will just have to check YT later.

I’ve really got no idea whether we will see a Trailer for WOT on 7 Feb or not or whether we will get to see the show anytime soon, I’m just hoping for this year and leaving it at that. It will be out when it’s out.

Would i love a April-May release, yes but I’ve been waiting 20 years for an adaptation, whats a few more months?

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