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Movie Trailers- Why Give Away So Much?
By Andrew Hawnt
There are two kinds of movie trailers. I don't mean teasers and theatrical trailers; I mean those that show a little and those that show too much. Those that tease are much more exciting, as while I want to see all the set pieces a film has to offer, I don't really want to see the whole film condensed into two minutes. Far too much is being packed into blockbuster trailers right now, each one vying for superiority over one another with their elaborate special effects, one liners and heroic poses, but where is the mystery? In past decades, trailers were much more ambiguous, offering up the merest glimpses of eye candy in order to get people to come and see the movies themselves upon their release. This was hugely effective, with audiences feeling much more satisfied by the films they were seeing instead of already having seen much of the film already in the previews.
One that really stuck in my mind for giving away everything was the theatrical trailer for Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem. Now, the film was terrible anyway, but everyone could have saved themselves a couple of hours and some cash by just watching the trailer again! That trailer contained pretty much every effects shot bar the climax, leaving the film feeling like little more than a padded trailer.
This treatment of trailers as miniature versions of the films they advertise is contributing towards the decay of attention spans in the cinemagoing public. People are spending much of these films waiting to join the dots and pick out where each shot from the trailer goes in the film. What happened to suspense? If you spend millions on effects, don't you want people to come and see the film instead of just watching the trailer a couple of times on Youtube? Fair enough, show off some of the goods in the trailers, but don't reveal everything. Format them as lengthy teasers instead of trying to cram everything into such a short space. Check out some classic trailers for inspiration. Make your potential audience seek out your film to see what the hell is going on- don't blow it all at once.
Another example is the trailer for the Peter Jackson version of King Kong. There was a film where people wanted to go and see Kong himself, and that film's performance was damaged substantially by the trailer showing off exactly what King looked like and got up to. Tease the audience. I can't stress that enough. Tease them, make them want more. Give them a morsel or two instead of a massive platter dripping with grease, and they'll be more likely to eat the full meal once it is prepared. Okay, enough analogies. Go and cut a trailer that won't cheapen your movies.
Andrew writes for the pop culture/memorabilia site starstore.com and its blogs, covering the latest and greatest in film, TV, music and comics merchandise and collectibles.
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