Movie trailers are a powerful tool used by movie studios. Sometimes they don’t use this tool properly though. Some studios have actually started unintentionally ruining key moments in movies through its promotional material. It’s gotten to the point where you want to plug your ears and close your eyes during most trailers for fear of seeing just about everything the film has to offer.
Movies like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice have marketed in such a way that there is a little mystery or intrigue surrounding the plot. We already know Doomsday is the main villain, which seemed like it was supposed to be a surprise but due to some leaks and rumors they just dropped him into a trailer. They’ve heavily implied Darkseid is in the movie, and we’ve seen a barrage of the cool action moments. If someone just edited every trailer, TV spot and clip into one video, you could probably piece together a good chunk of the movie. Just imagine sitting in the theater and seeing Doomsday show up having no knowledge of him being in the film, or seeing Robin’s costume in the Batcave. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will probably be a satisfying, enjoyable, fun film. DC and Warner Bros. have a lot riding on it, so it has to be good. It just would’ve been nicer if Warner Bros. stopped showing so much.
It’s not a problem with just Batman V Superman though, that’s just one of the most recent examples. It’s happened to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Avenger’s: Age of Ultron, and many others. Here are some pros and cons surrounding the current state of movie trailers…
Pro: A good movie trailer builds excitement for fans and can even attract new fans
There are times where a movie gets announced, and the initial announcement doesn’t excite, causing the film to drift off my radar. Then, an amazing trailer gets released and my hype muscle flexes! The most recent example of this is Suicide Squad; the first trailer didn’t do a whole lot for me and the images we got for The Joker were a major turn-off. Then we got the beautiful second trailer. This second trailer is edited perfectly to the beats of Queen’s classic song, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” we get the perfect taste of action and humor and our first extended look at the craziness of Jared Leto’s Joker, and it teases us with an interesting story without giving too much away. This trailer completely changed people’s opinion of the film and attracted more fans, all by crafting a well-made trailer.
Con: A bad movie trailer can spoil too much of the plot or show too many crucial scenes
I mentioned this in my first few paragraphs: if you aren’t careful with how you edit and release trailers you can potentially spoil a movie. Some trailers go the extra mile and show the very last shot of the movie (hello, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Obviously, you’d want to share some details of the plot before the film’s release, but don’t release so much that it’s easy to predict the movie from start to finish. We shouldn’t be sitting in the theater thirty minutes away from the end of the film thinking “Oh, here comes that cool shot from the trailer!” We should be engrossed in the movie. There should be genuine surprises. Not every cool thing needs to be in the trailer. The easiest way to prevent a film from being spoiled in previews is to shorten the trailer. A trailer should give you a brief taste of the film and make you want more. You shouldn’t feel like you don’t have to see the movie because of the trailer. In my opinion, a trailer shouldn’t be more than a minute or two.
Pro: A good movie trailer can create lots of buzz and intrigue around the film
Look at the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane; we pretty much have no idea what’s happening in the movie. Everyone wants to know how the hell this is tied to Cloverfield and the audience’s interest in the film is at its peak. You could say “Well, it has the branding of Cloverfield attached to it so of course people are interested.” Which is true, but let’s look at the first trailer for the original Cloverfield. You weren’t given a title at the end of the trailer, literally no one had any clue what this movie was, and it had the haunting image of The Statue of Liberty’s head lying in the middle of the street of New York City. It’s probably one of the most brilliant trailers ever created; fans scoured the internet for more information on the film. Was it connected to Godzilla or Voltron, yes I said Voltron I know it’s silly. If the marketing for Cloverfield wasn’t so brilliant, Cloverfield might not have been the success it was and we probably wouldn’t be here eagerly awaiting 10 Cloverfield Lane’s release.
Con: A bad movie trailer can mislead people in a bad way
Some movies don’t even know how to market their film, or a studio tries to sell the movie in a certain way that doesn’t accurately portray the film. The most recent and prominent example of this is The Gift. The movie was advertised as a relatively generic horror film while in reality the film was a dramatic thriller with a pretty good life lesson. If the option of seeing either The Gift or the travesty that is Fantastic Four (2015) hadn’t been given to me I would have probably never watched The Gift. Only a few days before I saw it was when the film had been brought to my attention, and it didn’t look particularly good, it just seemed incredibly generic. Once the credits had rolled for the movie, I instantly knew it would make my top 10 films of 2015, maybe even top 5. I expected this movie to blow up all over the place, but I have barely seen anyone talk about it aside from some YouTube channels that review movies. I genuinely believe the film was affected by its misleading marketing. There are many ways to edit a trailer together, but if you’re advertising a dramatic thriller advertise it as a dramatic thriller, not a generic horror movie!
Obviously, I am no Don Draper from Mad Men. My marketing degree has yet to arrive in the mail, but the fact that someone can write an opinion piece on what is wrong with trailers is a problem. Trailers aren’t a bad thing; they are exciting and fun to watch! Studios just need to be more careful on how they edit a trailer. Hopefully, we can bring back the amazing trailers that we got in the early 2000’s that give you butterflies in your stomach but don’t show much of the actual plot, similar to the phenomenal trailer we got for Spider-Man 2 (2004). Do you agree with what I have said or do you have anything you want to add? Let me know in the comments below!