The Trouble with Trailers

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Occupied seats in a movie theater, watching trailers before the film begins
Seats In Theater

You can’t go through social media or to the movie theater without seeing a movie trailer.  During the summer and around holidays, it seems like there is a new blockbuster movie being released every week. With every new blockbuster, there is at least one trailer. These trailers, however, create issues that affect how we view the movies when they are eventually released.

Trailers Are Ruining Movies

For decades, movie trailers have been used for advertising upcoming movies. In the early years, they appeared at the end of the feature presentation. According to Gfactor, they would “trail” the movie, hence the name. That didn’t last long, so they appeared before the movie to have more people see them.

Of course, now we have trailers and the beginning and end of credits scenes at the end. In general, trailers are usually no more than two and a half minutes long, compared to teasers, which can vary in length. Trailers and teasers are used for advertisements for upcoming releases. Teasers are there to simply provide hype for an upcoming feature. Trailers are there to provide the context for a movie. The trouble that studios have is that the trailers need to provide enough to hook the viewer, without showing the entire movie, or they show good scenes that are cut from the movie.

Misleading Trailers

The trouble studios usually run into with trailers is choosing which scenes they do include. They want to provide scenes that can hook the audience. Sometimes, these trailers are done before the movie is actually finished with production. When this occurs, they may have scenes that appear in the trailer, but not in the movie. This could lead to misleading quality of the movie.

The scenes that are in the trailer may be moments that the viewers use for initial quality. When those scenes are cut, the viewer feels misled and may think the movie isn’t as good as they thought. Of course, the movie could have other problems that lead to the actual quality, but the missing scenes give the audience a thought of “what if?.” Would those scenes have made the movie better, or was it always this quality? The problem with misleading trailers affect movies of all qualities because the audience will never know if those scenes would have mattered.

Spoiler Alert

More recently, a lot of trailers have been released that provided too much of the story. While they normally show major points in the story out of order, some of those included scenes show major points or things that would usually be used as a surprise. These elements take away from the enjoyment of watching the film for the first time. Those scenes, which could have been major surprise plot points in the story, are now expected and not as special.

The biggest and more recent example of this is the infamous Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. When BvS was in theaters, it was not perceived well. There were a lot of problems with it that I will not talk about now. One that kept showing up even before the movie was released was the inclusion of Doomsday in the trailer. While some people have different opinions on whether Doomsday should’ve been included at all, the inclusion of him (it?) in the trailer was a bad move.

In the movie, his appearance was a major turning point for the characters. His appearance would have made the scene more shocking and been better without knowing it was coming months in advance. After the trailer dropped, people were able to map out the story. The heroes would have problems, fight it out, Doomsday appears, and they join forces. There’s no surprise. You could also say that not including Wonder Woman in the trailer would have had a better result when she suddenly appeared on screen. The inclusions of major spoilers can have a negative effect on the movie’s perception. While they may not make the movie instantly better, they could at least soften the criticism that would follow the movie.

Ways to Improve

Of course, it’s easy to rip into studios for making bad trailers. The best part of a criticism is offering suggestions for improvement. While this article so far applies to all movie trailers, this suggestion is mainly for the big franchise blockbusters, like Marvel, DC, or Star Wars. The movies that get released from these entities will always get a large viewing. They could just sit around and do nothing, and people would show up to watch the newest movie. When doing trailers for these movies, they should think “less.” Instead of releasing trailers, just do a teaser.

For example, if the Venom teaser was the only thing released for advertisement, that would be enough to get a large viewing. While only considered a teaser, it does all the things a trailer would do. It provides scenes the gain interest and provides hype. It also won’t show off a lot of scenes that would spoil anything.

If DC wanted to release a trailer for an upcoming Batman movie, they could have cuts of some bad guys getting beat up, scared and left tied up for the police while just showing a fast-moving shadow. The end could be just a silhouette of Batman standing on a roof corner, with the Gotham skyline in the background, with sirens in the distance before jumping down and cutting to black. It could be 30 seconds, and that would be enough to gain the interest needed. These movies don’t need a lot to gain interest, the interest is already there for them. They could easily get by without a traditional trailer.

Last Word on Trailers

As seen recently, more trailers are falling to the problems of too many spoilers or misleading scenes. While these issues are avoidable, they are still being seen. They continue to things the way they have been, but that may be another problem. Until the studios break away from the normal way and find new ways to advertise their movies, without spoilers or misleading viewers, movie trailers may continue to cause trouble.

 

 

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