Are trailers showing us too much?

Can a trailer show us a little bit too much?

Can a trailer show us a little bit too much about the film?

Trailers can create huge anticipation while also exciting a whole mass of fans and audiences.  Take the trailer for Star Wars Episode 1; fans flocked into cinemas in late 1998 not to watch films but to see the Star Wars trailer.  Trailers can be as highly anticipated as the film itself.  With the creation of YouTube audiences can now watch lengthy trailers on demand as soon as they are released.  But is there a point where a trailer can ruin the experience of watching a film?  Take the Guardians of the Galaxy trailers.  It hasn’t been released as of yet but already (according to IMDB) 11 videos relating to trailers and featurettes have been released.  Of course trailers need to attract an audience and one way by doing so is by shelling out as many trailers as possible but isn’t this too much?  The fan base for Guardians of the Galaxy has surely already been alerted to the film’s release within the first week of the trailers being shown.  So why do they continue to produce trailer after trailer?  For me this is just too much, I was already excited for the film.  With the repetitive showing of a new trailer over and over again I risk knowing too much even before seeing the film.  Are trailers showing too much or am I being too nitpicky?

All a trailer needs to do is attract an audience.  As well as giving a short summary of the narrative in less than 2 minutes.  Showing too much of the narrative or too much plot development can leave the audience already guessing the ending and therefore ruining the movie experience.  A perfect example of how a movie trailer should not be done its worth looking at the original Carrie (1974) trailer.  Unbelievably the narrator goes through the whole story even going as far as showing us the classic red paint scene.  You lose that shock factor and excitement when watching the film.  You know exactly when the red paint scene is coming and the movie experience is ruined.  But that was back in the 70s and not in the present time so surely we’ve learnt from our mistakes? Well not so much.  If you look at the Castaway (2000) trailer you will be quite surprised at how much it gives away.  Clips of Tom Hanks after he’s survived the ordeal on the island are quite frequently shown.  Even one character tells Hanks that they had a funeral for him already! The whole film in essence is ruined.  So the whole tension when he’s on the sharp rocks or the fear that a ship will not come and rescue him is lost completely.  The problem I have for Guardians of the Galaxy is that I already want to see this film, the fact they want to show me more is only going to dent my experience.  Sometimes trailers need to chill and feel reassured that the movie has already alerted enough of the audience.

Despite all this critical analysis trailers can be expertly produced.  They can create the right amount of anticipation without ruining the film experience or plot.  A good trailer can even fool us into thinking the film is going to be incredible when in fact its crap.  The Godzilla (2014) trailer was a fantastic piece of work.  I had no real interest in the franchise but after seeing the trailer I was blown away.  It’s the simple monster vs man story concept.  For this trailer it fits perfectly, we have Brian Cranston giving the audience dramatic dialogue accompanying shots of people running and cities being destroyed.  We’re only seeing glimpses of Godzilla and not a full shot of him.  This creates huge anticipation for fans wanting to see the full thing.  Not much is given away but there’s enough to create excitement.  For this trailer little is so much more.  The Pulp Fiction (1994) trailer highlights the film perfectly.  It’s fast paced, full of action, random shots of people snorting coke and absolute chaos.  The films plot is unclear and is hardly mentioned at all but this doesn’t worsen the film it only creates more interest. The audience wants to know what the hell’s going on and what the movie is even about.  It’s a great way to evoke interest and curiosity for the audience.  You want to know why John Travolta and Uma Thurman are doing that strange dance and why Samuel L Jackson is saying loads of random shit.  A good trailer will only show glimpses of the plot and characters in an attempt to try and grab the audience’s curiosity.  If there’s too much character development or too much story the audience won’t be as interested or inquisitive of the actual film.

Trailers can either make or break the films success.  It’s all about attracting people to go watch the film; if the trailer fails to do that then the film itself can fail at the box office.  As we’ve seen with trailers in the past you can still make the money at the box office even if your film is crappy (Battle Los Angeles is one example).  Some trailers do run the risk of showing us too much and for me this has a negative effect on the movie.  I hope more block buster films would just leave the audience guessing instead of giving us a full character profile on everyone on the screen.  For me the best trailers are the ones that keep you guessing.  It’s become more about shoving a film down people’s throats then actually having an emotional effect of the audience.  I know the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer inside and out and I know huge amounts of information about the characters.   You can’t just watch the movie on its own, witnessing these incredible characters you haven’t seen before.  I know who they are as well as what they do even before I’ve seen the film and there’s no fun in that.  For me I think its best I keep away from trailers for a bit and just leave it to be surprised when I get to theatres.  But if you enjoy the many trailers and interviews then that is fine, if you want more information on the film then that’s not a bad thing by a long way.  I just sometimes get annoyed with the forced nature these trailers have, giving you trailer after trailer to keep you interested.  For me the one trailer with snippets from the film is all I need to get my curiosity going.


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