This article is about movie trailers and their effect on how people view movies. It was written for an online publication.
There are a number of reasons to go see a movie this year. Some of the best ones are coming out! But aren’t they always? Isn’t there always an amazing tentpole that we’ve been “gripping our seats” just waiting for? Countless trailers spread out over six months or even a year telling us each and every plot point. Some of them even spill the beans on big twists AND endings. But we still go because we are told they’re the next big thing.
But what if they’re not? (And they’re usually not). We still go. We still hold up the Michael Bay’s of the world as geniuses. Does that mean their movies aren’t fun or that they don’t make us slurp our diet cokes and chow down on our extra-large buckets of popcorn with free refills? Of course not. Movies are meant to be fun. But does that mean I want to know it all? Take a guess.
In this era of need-to-know and immediate gratification, we need to decide what we want. When a movie is ninety minutes and there are six trailers at roughly three-and-a-half minutes long, that means that we are being spoiled of the “best” twenty-one minutes or roughly twenty-three percent. That is, in my opinion, insane.
Now here’s the thing. I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment. Trailers are fun. They are a three-minute rollercoaster that will make you laugh and cry depending on the movie. A green screen appears with the MPA logo, the music swells, and the lead actor looks off into the middle-distance, smoldering. A train flies over a cliff, an old man gives sage advice over a black screen. We all tear up and applaud.
But now we need to watch a ninety-minute version of that trailer. Sometimes it lives up to the hype, other times we want to rip our hair out because it's way too long. People lament that the trailer gave away too much or that the movie itself should have been twenty minutes shorter. Exactly the amount of time the trailers took up.
The fact is, we need movie trailers to give us an idea of what we’re going in to watch. They are the back covers to the movie posters. The problem is when we judge the movie by it’s covers. Then the story is diluted.
All I’m saying is that these mini-movies need to be what they used to be: previews. They need to give us an entree into the movie but just that. Some of the most effective movie trailers are the ones that show text, some voiceover, and the glory shot of the hero.
There’s nothing wrong with hype, but let me have my movie unspoiled. I want my previews, not a condensed version of the entire movie.