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Top 10 Misleading Movie Trailers

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Last week, The Independent told the story of a Reddit user threatening to sue Warner Brothers’ for the deceptive Suicide Squad trailer. The trailer, which seemed to promise a lot of screen time for Jared Leto’s Joker, did not paint an accurate image of the film. As such, user BlackPanther2016 revealed a desire to sue the studio as well as DC Comics over false advertisement.

While a lawsuit seems a bit excessive, the feelings conveyed by this person are not uncommon. An effective movie trailer peaks an audience’s interest in the film it is attempting to sell. Therefore, it can be quite frustrating if a trailer does not accurately depict the film it has to offer. There’s a plethora of films that have deceptive trailers, and through this list you can see 10 of the worst offenders.

Being on this list does not mean the film itself was bad, only that its trailer did not portray the kind of film it was correctly. Due to the way films evolve from one stage of production to another, teaser trailers will not be considered for this list. Nor will trailers that omit non-plot essential features, such as the trailer for Pan’s Labyrinth hiding the fact that the film is Spanish. Finally, be warned, spoilers ahead!

10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The sequel to 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man saw the return of Andrew Garfield as the spinning web crawler. The trailers promised a slew of villains, such as Electro, Green Goblin, and a major clash between Garfield’s Spider-Man and Paul Giamatti’s Rhino. The trailer ends on a shot of Spider-Man slinging a pothole cover towards Rhino, seemingly promising a major brawl in the film. However, no such brawl took place. In fact, the final shot of the trailer is actually the final shot of the film, robbing the audience of the final showdown it teased in the trailer.

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9. The Rules of Attraction (2002)

The trailer for this adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel presented a film that seemed like the next American Pie. It had wacky teenagers doing raunchy things, and promised a world filled with good times for all involved. However, what is actually delivered in this Roger Avery directed flick is a provocative think-piece about obsession, depression, and lust. Through artsy direction, and time-melding editing, this film delivers a look into a world that is far more sinister than the one pictured in the trailer.

8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

This 2007 flick, adapted from the Katherine Paterson book of the same name, stars Josh Hutchinson and AnnaSophia Robb as two youngsters that seemingly uncover a hidden, magical kingdom in the forest. At least that’s how the trailers for this film made it seem. However, rather than being a fantasy film akin to Chronicles of Narnia, it is a thought-provoking film about life and death, as well as dealing with the loss of a loved one. The fantasy elements presented in the trailer are a shared dream the two main characters have prior to one of them dying.

7. Godzilla (2014)

Following the cancellation of his smash-success Breaking Bad, fans were itching to see what Bryan Cranston would do next. When the first trailer for 2014’s Godzilla hit the web, Cranston’s chilling lines echoing over scenes of destruction instantly sold people on the concept of a monster movie with Walter White. There’s no wonder then that people were stunned when Cranston dies about 30 minutes into the film. His prominent placement within the film’s trailers promised fans something it simply couldn’t deliver.

6. Scream (1996)

Wes Craven was a horror genius. He made some of the best horror movies of his generation, with flicks like A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, and Scream. The latter of which has a deceptively misleading trailer. While the deception is all part of the rouse played on the audience, it is still misleading and deserves a spot on this list. The trailer presents a slasher flick with Drew Barrymore leading the charge against a masked villain. What actually happens is that big named actress Barrymore gets killed during the film’s opening scene, with Neve Campell, a far less known actress at the time, taking the reins (a trick Craven likely learned from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho).

5. Chappie (2015)

The explosive trailer to Neill Blomkamp’s third directorial effort sold a movie full of intense action and deep, philosophical questions. However, what was presented throughout the film was a much slower, methodical approach to storytelling than the trailers promised. Beyond saddling the titular character with two gang-bangers that are hardly seen in the trailer, the film’s pace is nothing like what the trailers presented.

4. Brave (2012)

Pixar’s animated adventure follows Meridia, a princess in the Scottish highlands that’s set to be married off. The trailers present the film as a competition for Meridia’s hand in marriage, where she will fight for independence from her controlling mother. In actuality, the film is about Meridia being granted a wish from an old witch. Through this wish, she accidentally turns her mother into a bear as a way to change her fate. Hilarity surely ensues, but not the kind the trailers presented.

3. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

The trailer for Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award winning drama presents an underdog story akin to Rocky and other sports movies of its time. It makes it seem like Eastwood’s stubborn character will learn to respect Hillary Swank’s persistent demeanor. Most people that view the trailer will likely feel confident they know how the film will unfold. However, no one saw the second half of this film coming. Following an accident in the ring, Swank ends up paralyzed, and begs Eastwood to kill her. The final third of the film is about Eastwood struggling with his decision, before finally respecting her wishes. It is a depressing turn for a film whose trailer made it seem like a cheerful tale about an underdog finally getting her day.

2. Drive (2011)

The trailers for this Nicholas Winding Refn crime drama presented a high-octane action flick, that seemed to mix the car chases from the Fast and the Furious, with the driver-for-hire storyline from The Transporter. What was presented instead was a deeply provocative crime drama, with stellar performances from leading man Ryan Gosling, as well as the supporting cast Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaacs, and Christina Hendricks. Despite being an excellent movie, the trailer was so deceptive that one Michigan woman sued FilmDistrict Distribution. Sound familiar?

1. World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

For those familiar with Bobcat Goldthwait’s work, the trailer for his 2009 flick World’s Greatest Dad would’ve likely sounded a few alarm bells. However, for the general movie-going audience, the upbeat trailer that promised a quirky father-son comedy with Robin Williams probably seemed quite fitting. Expecting to see a feel-good comedy, audiences were likely surprised when they discovered the film is actually about the decisions Williams makes after his son accidentally dies from auto-erotic asphyxiation. While it is a brilliantly dark comedic film, it is absolutely nothing like what the trailers presented.

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Kris Solberg
26 year old Norwegian native. Fond of writing, reading comics, watching movies, playing games, and anything else that might peak my interest.
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