Friday, May 28, 2010


I love movie trailers. Whenever I go see a movie at the theater, I have to get there early to watch the previews of coming attractions. It’s exciting and entertaining to see short clips of movies you haven’t seen yet put together as a 30 second to 3 minute presentation to wet your appetite and count the days until you can see the whole thing. If I had any time of behind the scenes job in the film industry, I would want to be a trailer editor.

The problem with today’s trailers is that they tend to ruin the surprise and excitement of the film they’re promoting with either too much info, or too many different clips that make the final product less interesting.

Nowadays we typically get 3 main trailers:

1. The Teaser Trailer-The initial trailer to announce the release of the film. Teaser trailers will typically have very little footage and usually run less than a minute.

2. The Second Trailer-The first full trailer that shows a bit of footage and reveals a bit more of the plot of the movie. These trailers are usually 2-3 minutes.

3. The Final Trailer-The last trailer released before the movie opens. Not every movie has a third trailer, but if they do, they offer even more footage and insight to the story and run around 3 minutes long.

Along with that we get the 3-12 TV spots with a mix of new footage and shots we’ve seen in the three theatrical trailers, full scenes online, and a few sneak peeks so by the time we actually see the movie we are either tired of it from all the promotion or significantly less interested because of all the spoilers the various trailers have given us.

Now I get that the studios and film makers need and want to show footage of their movie to promote and hopefully turn a decent profit, I enjoy it in fact. I just don’t think we need to see every major aspect of the movie before we see it in its entirety. Leave some surprises in there.

Some examples of trailers ruining some awesome “holy shit you’ve gotta see this movie” moments are right here.

Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace

Let’s save all the shit talking on this movie for a later blog. My real problem is this: the teaser trailer gives away Darth Maul’s face and his double edged lightsabre. There’s plenty of shots in the movie where Maul (the coolest part of this movie and an extremely under used character) is only using one beam of his lightsabre and has a large black hood covering his crazy tattooed face. If that stuff had been saved for the actual first viewing of the entire movie, maybe people would be talking about how awesome Darth Maul was instead of how bad Jar Jar and Anakin were.

Terminator Salvation

The promotional campaign of this movie started out so strong. A short but extremely powerful teaser trailer with more of Christian Bales post apocalyptic voice over than actual footage got me so pumped, but the second and third trailers, although well made, completely ruined the surprise that Sam Worthington was a Terminator, which was such a huge point of the movie. Half the movie Sam’s character Marcus is a fish out of water, and it isn’t until a little over halfway through his journey that he realizes what he really is. If the trailer didn’t blow that for you, you probably would’ve related to the character more and gone on that journey with him and the movie would’ve gotten shit on a bit less.

I’m not saying stop putting out trailers. I just think Hollywood needs to use a little less of their final product in those trailers. You remember the first teaser for The Dark Knight? There was literally no footage in that. Christopher Nolan’s upcoming movie Inception has 3 trailers and most everyone still can’t figure out what’s going on. More movies need to start that way and maybe make the more revealing footage optional like putting it online rather than all over the TV. I wanna be shocked and surprised when I see a movie for the first time, not bored and spoiled.

Leave a comment with your thoughts on teasers and trailers.

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