Before the internet was a huge deal and before YouTube was one of the biggest websites on the internet, the only ways we could see trailers for new films was to go to the cinema and watch them before the film started or if you were lucky, you might catch one during an ad break on television, because of this trailers had to do their best to convince you to see the film in cinemas. It was basically the idea that when you went to the cinema, the trailers would give you the opportunity to plan what you were going to see the next time you went to the cinema. This meant a lot of work went into trailers. They were the primary advertisements for films.
Alas, this is a world we no longer live in. Trailers are still shown in cinemas before the start of a film but with many websites set up to show you the newest trailers as soon as they’re released and multiple versions of that very same trailer being uploaded onto YouTube by various users means that what used to only be seen by cinema goers can now be seen by everyone. Ever.
You would think that would make film companies try harder with the release of trailers as they will be viewed by a larger amount of people. Sadly, this isn’t entirely the case. As it is easier for a film trailer to be seen it is also easier for a film company to release more and more trailers for the same film, so if the first trailer for a film didn’t take your fancy, don’t worry as there will be at least 3 more trailers to be released up until the release of the film so by the time it comes out you can feel like you’ve already seen it (or at least all of the bits worth watching).
I have personally experienced what I would consider a bad trailer. I went to the cinema to watch Edgar Wright’s third instalment of The Blood and Ice cream trilogy; The World’s End (You should see The World’s End).
During the previews, I saw the trailer for this summer’s new comedy; “We’re the Millers” starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudekis. For the first half of the trailer, it did its job well. Half way through I thought to myself “Seems like a good film, will probably go see it”. Sadly the trailer didn’t stop when I thought that, despite the fact it convinced me by showing a fair few jokes and gags from the film it continued to show even more jokes, gags, plot points and even went as far to reveal a joke that I would imagine being a vital part to the end of the film.
When the trailer finally ended, my thought process had changed from the positive impression I felt before to “Well, I don’t really need to see this film anymore as I feel like I have already seen it”.
Ok, it might be a slight over exaggeration, but after seeing that trailer I didn’t think I needed to see any more of the film.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking We’re the Millers as a film. From its reviews, I gather it’s actually quite good, but after seeing that trailer, I didn’t feel like I needed to see any more of the film. Rather than a trailer it felt like an abridged version of the film.
It is difficult to create the trailer for a comedy as it needs to have the perfect mix of giving the right amount of jokes and gags and also by giving as few plot points as possible but still letting the audience know the basic plot of the film.
For example, in “We’re the Millers” the basic plot was that David Clark had to travel to Mexico to pick up ‘A smidge’ of marijuana for his boss and that he planned to go over the border with people disguised as a family as he finds that families rarely get searched going over the border.
That enough plot with a few of the gags thrown in, is enough to convince people that the film is worth seeing.
Comedies aren’t the only genre that often shows too much when creating trailers. As October is coming up, you can expect to see a lot more revealing horror trailers.
This is another trailer I experienced when going to the cinema to see a completely different film, during the previews of this particular film (I can’t remember which film this was, it was almost a year ago), I saw the trailer for “Sinister” a new horror starring Ethan Hawke.
Unlike most horror film trailers, this actually had moments that made me jump and it successfully convinced me to see the film, so in that aspect it did its job as a trailer.
Sadly the entirety of the jump out of your seat parts of the film, I had already seen meaning the rest of the film was pretty boring.
So Sinister’s trailer failed in a different way to We’re the Millers. It gave the right amount of scares to make me want to see it but sadly the right amount of scares turned into all the scares the film could offer.
When I complained about this to a friend he explained to me that I shouldn’t watch a horror trailer. That advice doesn’t really work when you’re in a movie theatre and the trailer is playing on a giant screen in front of you in a dark room, you have nothing to distract yourself from what’s on screen, so you just tend to watch the screen.
An example of a good Horror film trailer goes to Paranormal Activity (The original, none of those sequels… we’ll just pretend they never happened).
The trailer to Paranormal Activity gave the audience a decent amount of plot so they could vaguely understand what was going on, but whenever they wanted to show a scary part of the trailer, they wouldn’t show you. Instead they would show you the audience’s reaction to the scary part. So you get to know the film is scary without seeing why, unless you see the film yourself. This also means by seeing the trailer, you haven’t ruined the film for yourself.
I understand this is very critical of me to attack film trailers as companies try to do what they think is right to advertise their films to the masses, it’s just sometimes a company can be too generous with that trailer and give us too much. When people want to see a trailer, they want to be convinced to see the movie; they don’t want to see an abridged version of the movie… leave that to Wikipedia page plot synopsis.