George Chrysostomou on movie trailers…
Long gone are the days when our first glimpse at the latest offerings from movie studios came in the cinema. The preview trailers used to be the best part of heading to your local big screen, because you’d never seen them before; they were a teasing snapshot of what could be, enticing viewers to come and experience this new adventure for themselves. Of course, the market starts to become saturated, films come in their dozens each week and there are now an endless supply of trailers that can now be watched online at the click of a button. Add this to the whole culture of speculation, scoops and behind the scenes information, and the medium has gone through a vast overhaul, where we have now reached a point where a film can live or die by its trailer.
The argument might be made that people will see certain films regardless of how their trailer performs or how well it showcases the upcoming spectacle. Personally, I would propose that both the controversy surrounding the reboot of the Ghostbusters was further fuelled by an uninspired trailer, while the underwhelming Justice League trailer providing audiences with an extra excuse not to attend despite the event film that it was. These are both examples where the trailers did not help either of those films, and it has to be said therefore that the trailer really does make or break a film, especially today – although there are more elements to that than you may initially think.
A good trailer doesn’t necessarily constitute a good film, nor does it absolutely lead to audiences paying their hard earned cash to sit in a dark room for two hours, with annoying kids and people that eat their popcorn a bit too loudly. The tone of a trailer might just add the intrigue needed to get people to turn out in their droves though. The Deadpool franchise is an absolute given to produce trailers which may not so much preview the film but just give everyone a good laugh, whilst reminding them that in a few months time they could go and have a crack at watching a much longer version of Ryan Reynolds mucking about in a red suit. The first Deadpool 2 trailer, featuring the titular character doing his best impression of Bob Ross, got people talking without really revealing anything about the film. Marketing campaigns like these, especially for comedies, get people talking much more than your standard trailer, which ruins the best jokes and will probably tell you way too much about the plot. Inventive trailers, much like Deadpool, are too few and far between.
The main Star Wars trailers manage to reveal so little of the plot for the upcoming movies, that not only do they hide any spoilers but they leave numerous surprises for the actual viewing of the film, allowing fans to get the best experience. This attention to detail on what is released throughout the marketing campaign means that fans are forced to go and watch the newest instalment to unlock the mysteries, and can really enjoy the whole experience.
Conversely, the disappointment surrounding the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailer is not only because it appears to be a rehash of the first Jurassic World, but more so because it appears that almost everything has been revealed in those few short minutes. The trailer has seemingly spelled out beat for beat the next Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard adventure, suggesting that there is not much more to be seen. Not only was the trailer therefore a Jurassic disappointment, but even the return of the beloved T-Rex, usually reserved for the final, climatic act, of the film, has been spoiled in order to get quick ticket sales. As for Jeff Goldblum’s return, it made sense to show that here, as it had been rumoured and coming off the back of Thor: Ragnarok he really is in full force; it’s just a shame the surprise was not left for a cinema viewing, especially if his scenes do not exceed a short cameo.
In comparison, the Avengers: Infinity War trailer had every card stacked against it, with expectations fierce, given that the MCU has been building to this movie since 2008. Yet, it defied expectations and simultaneously teased fans and casual viewers alike, whilst spoiling nothing. Not only was this a feat which few expected possible, but it became the highest watched trailer all time and was generally praised around the world. Building on the films that have come before it, whilst giving that tantalising snippet of the Guardians joining the Avengers and even turning Thanos into a meme, the trailer exceeded expectations and managed to further raise anticipation for the upcoming superhero epic.
Heading forward, I believe trailers are going to continue to evolve and change, hopefully for the better. Now, more than ever, films rely on their trailers to truly push them to the next level. Hopefully we’ll start to see more trailers that tease rather than revealing everything, in order to really bring back the magic to the cinema experience.