Movie Trailer Madness

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The trailers are a crucial and exciting part of the movie-going experience, getting you pumped up not only for the film you are about to see, but for upcoming flicks that they tease. I, for one, refuse to miss them when I go to the theater, as they often enough end up being better than the movie I’m actually there to see. They complete the experience, along with paying twenty bucks for popcorn that likely cost a dollar to make, and a bucket of soda that cost even less. If the theater is crowded enough, after each trailer you can see and hear fellow fans doing the same thing you are, which is turning to the person you’re there with, and shaking or nodding your head, and making some sort of comment about your level of approval between mouthfuls of popcorn.

Because the modern cinematic landscape is so saturated with superhero fare and big summer blockbusters, the releases of trailers have become events in many instances. Sometimes they’re show at panels at Comic-Con (and subsequently leaked online as bad bootlegs) or they’re put at the front of similar movies in the theaters. Otherwise, they’re simply released online by the studios, leading to uproarious conversations on the Web, and everyone asking you “hey, did you see the new trailer for The Avengers yet?!?”. No, I haven’t, because it’s the third one and I don’t need to see it. I just want to watch the movie. Many “big” movies first grace the silver screen as “teaser” trailers, which are sometimes just a logo with some audio behind it, or a 30-second commercial that shows very little and explains even less. The world will typically wait several months after that for a full trailers, which will give them more of a taste over the course of two to three minutes.

More of a recent phenomenon, I think, is the release of three, sometimes four trailers for one movie before it comes out. The more I see this happen, the more I question its necessity. One teaser and one full trailer should be sufficient, as anything beyond that is either giving away too much of the movie, or showing you lines or scenes that are not even going to end up in the final cut of the film. That’s one fairly regular occurrence that has been a sticking point for moviegoers for as long as I can remember, as all too often fans leave the theater scratching their heads, wondering why that funny line they saw and heard in the preview wasn’t in the actual movie. Conversely, there are other instances in which the funny, scary, action-packed or otherwise interesting scenes in the trailer are the only ones that show up in the film, and the rest of the movie is disappointing. For example, even though this was not done until the movie was already in theaters, trailers for Terminator: Genisys outed the character of John Connor as the villain, which is not only a major plot point of the movie, but also an incredible twist for the Terminator saga.

Trailers, even if there are too many of them for a given movie, or if they in one way or another betray what ultimately ends up on the big screen, are a critical aspect of the cinematic universe. Few other two-to-three minute experiences in life make us decide whether or not we’re going to like something when we go through it in full, or whether or not we’re even going to spend so much as another second on it. That’s a tremendous amount of power for such as small amount of time to wield. Those few minutes can be a large part of what causes a project that cost tens of millions of dollars and often years worth of time and manpower to create, to fail. We rarely think about that when we shake our heads and say “meh” to a preview while we dig into our astronomically overpriced snacks. Nonetheless, movie fans, myself included, will continue to look forward to the previews before every outing to the theaters.

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