Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
The trailer scene: Trying to hold back a line-up of very well-armed police, Newt attempts to calm them with a nervous “Don’t panic, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about”. Obviously such a line only ever means the opposite, and moments later, magical monstrous mayhem explodes behind him.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? No. Eddie Redmayne later explained that the line was cut because its comedic delivery was tonally incoherent, given that the stakes are actually really high at that point in the film. He is right.
The Truman Show (1998)
The trailer scene: A key early sign that Truman’s world is not, in fact, real. As a studio light falls out of the sky and smashes on the ground beside him, Truman looks up and sees a conspicuous tear in the azure above. In the final film, the sky remains flawless.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? Not really. The light drop still happens, which is the main point. A visible rip would have been far too much of a giveaway, and probably implied that the studio was a fair bit smaller than it needed to be portrayed, too. A nice, extra detail, but also proof that you can over-design things sometimes. The mere concept of studio lights in the sky is powerful enough.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
The trailer scene: Ron Burgundy’s crew confuse gay men with vampires. Even after extensive questioning of a gay man. Brick then asks the chap being interrogated whether he is a vampire, just to be sure.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? “You can have too much of a good thing,” is presumably a saying that no-one had heard on the set of Anchorman 2, given the 250 or so additional jokes that the special cut attempts to rapid-fire out of its LOL-cannon. It's long been a trope of modern American comedy to throw out far more jokes than necessary in the hope that a third of them stick, and the many versions of Anchorman are the poster-boy for that technique. So no, the original film is fine without it.
King Kong (2005)
The trailer scene: In a nod to the 1933 original, Naomi Watts' character - posing in front of the camera while shooting early movie footage on the island - is encouraged by Jack Black's director to “Scream for your life!” She duly obliges, only to get an unexpected answer from somewhere deep in the jungle.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? It's a brilliantly conceived, wonderfully executed shot, but one that would rather disrupt the flow of increasingly horrible reveals once the action hits the island. Too much Kong, too soon, would have totally derailed the pace.
Fantastic Four (2015)
The trailer scene: A military chap asks Reed Richards “How long until he’s in?”. Richards, looking at a monitor, replies “Two minutes”. Cut to The Thing jumping out of a plane, and crashing hard and angry into a drop-zone below, exploding a car in the process. “Might be a little less,” Richards amends. And lo, do we chuckle slightly.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? Given that it’s quite funny, in an otherwise rather crap and unlikable film, yes, it would have been welcome. Any additional good things would have been welcome. Any at all. The released version of the movie was roundly panned for its dour tone, lack of humour, and general air of misery. Even slight chuckles would have helped.
The Avengers (1998)
The trailer scene: “How now, brown cow?” Uma Thurman’s Emma Peel utters in an impeccably plummy English accent, as she infiltrates the secret entrance to the Prospero science installation via a conveniently placed phone box.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? More than half an hour was eventually cut from the misfiring remake, so what’s another minute or two of missing footage amongst friends? By this point the final edit made zero sense anyway, so the phone box's reinsertion wouldn't have made much difference either way.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
The trailer scene: One famous scene culled from the live action/animated movie mash-up sees the late, great Bob Hoskins lose his cool after getting a cartoon pig’s head stuck to his bonce. After having the porcine visage painted on to him in Toontown, Hoskins’ Eddie Valiant returns home in a panic to remove it, scrubbing the face away in what was actually the first completed shot produced for the movie.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? The extended scene shows Hoskins washing the offending animation off in the shower, which is why he emerges from the bathroom topless when Jessica Rabbit comes calling at his apartment. It’s hardly vital to the overall plot, but for continuity’s sake it would have at least made Eddie Valiant look a little bit less exhibitionist.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011)
The trailer scene: “Why do you live?” “Because I have something worth living for.” Or so the spine-tingling exchange between Voldermort and the boy wizard went in one of the early trailers for the Potter franchise’s finale.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? There’s still plenty of oomph to the ending, but this is a fine piece of climatic, adversarial dialogue. Though perhaps it was cut due to having already been used at the end of Order of the Phoenix. As the defining line of that film’s final shot, the call-back might have been feared to be a little too on-the-nose. No Voldemort/nose joke intended.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
The trailer scene: You might have expected an entirely different movie after watching the trailers for this Paranormal Activity threequel, which featured, amongst a laundry list of missing scenes, a sequence where the girls usher a demon into appearing by playing the Bloody Mary game. Not the kind that involves vodka and tomato juice.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? Yes? No? Either way it obviously didn’t matter, seeing as the movie still managed to break records on its way to taking a $200 million bite out of the box office. It seems that one creepy interface of kids / paranormal threat is as good as another, as long as they're both filmed in unsettling, grainy found-footage-o-vision.
Black Christmas (2006)
The trailer scene: There are a stack of them. The frozen lake scene, with someone trapped under the ice? Not in the movie. The whirling, lawnmower-meets-fairy-lights death machine? Not in the movie. The girl falling off the roof, tied up with light cables? Not in the movie. Heck, that actress isn’t in the movie. There’s also a TV spot featuring Michelle Trachtenberg running around with a shotgun, and no, none of that happens in the film either.
It turns out that after a long period of tinkering with the movie’s production, the Weinsteins called for an additional period of filming without director Glen Morgan (but with his okay), ostensibly for light reshoots and pick-ups ‘for TV spots’. They then used the time to create an absolute raft of trailer material that never had any relationship with the actual film.
Do we miss it in the finished movie? It’s hard to say, because the Black Christmas trailers are literally a different movie. It’s impossible to know how any of this stuff would have integrated with the film that got released (particularly given that the trailers feature characters who literally do not exist). It is a nice window into a parallel universe version of the film though, or a sequel that never happened.