Watching my twitter and Facebook of late I’m starting to wonder if anyone’s watching film trailers any more. All I see is people talking about avoiding this trailer or that trailer or getting angry at what the trailers they have seen and what they reveal, and then vowing to start avoiding them altogether.
It got me thinking about the evolution of trailers. I’ve previously written a blog about the fact that we used to get maybe two trailers for a film and possibly a TV ad, while these days there are preview trailers, trailer trailers, teaser trailers, various main trailers, international trailers, final trailers and usually several different TV ads too. Not to mention those films which have their first ten minutes featured as a preview in front of some other film.
The thing I see most people complaining about is the spoilers, or rather the things the film makers and trailer makers choose to reveal in the trailers. They aren’t spoilers exactly, but they are things which many feel would be far better saved to wow people in the actual film. I can name two really high profile films right now which have given major plot events away in their trailers, events that I would rather have been surprised with when I sat down to watch the whole film. I won’t mention the things revealed; some of you reading might not want to know what they are. But I can tell you, I think I’d prefer to not know. Some trailers today make you feel like you really have seen all the best bits before even sitting down in the cinema.
Now, it’s not all trailers which do this by any means. Some do exactly what they’re supposed to do: they advertise the film; they whet your appetite. But others seem to be giving the game away as much and as often as they can. What happened to just giving people a tease and then letting them come see the rest when they watch the film? When did showing more become the norm?
The odd thing is that these films giving the game away in their trailers are the films which already have a solid audience; they’re the films which are pretty much guaranteed to do well. So why do film makers and distributors feel the need to reveal so much in their trailers? Have the trailer makers lost the point of the trailer? Are they that desperate to have us see their film that they blow their big story beats to entice us in?
Take Star Trek into Darkness . I have several non-geeky friends who are definitely going to see this film. They haven’t seen any of the myriad of trailers out there on the internet, but they’ve heard of the film and they want to see it. They don’t care if it’s Khan or not. They’re in. So, if these non-geeks are already sold just on the strength of, “It’s a new Star Trek film” and the geeky members of society are pretty much guaranteed to be seeing it too because “It’s a new Star Trek film from JJ Abrams and it has the Cumberbatch in it“, this begs the question: why are there so many overly spoilerific trailers? Who are they aimed at? And why is all this money being spent on trailers which people are actively avoiding?
It’s the same for Iron Man. Remember the suitcase armour for Iron Man 2 ? It was a wow moment, right? Well, imagine how much more of a wow moment it would have been if the first you’d known about the suitcase armour was when you saw it in the film, and not in a trailer! Which was what happened.
All a trailer needs to do is announce the film, tell you when it’s out and give you a brief glimpse. And I feel like trailers don’t just do this anymore. They go far beyond just saying look this film is coming out in three months’ time.
So, I suppose my question to you is twofold. First; do you watch trailers? Or do you avoid trailers and any talk of them as much as possible because they give too much away and you’d rather see a film with very little prior knowledge going in?
And secondly do you think that the amount of effort and money put into advertising films is worth it? Do you think they’d be better off sticking a little more of the money into the actual film and toning down the advertising juggernaut sometimes?
And what’s been the most annoying thing ever given away in a trailer?