Trailer Trash

The trouble with trailers…

I still find that part of the enjoyment of watching a film at the cinema is the whole programme. I like to get myself comfortable before the adverts start, so that nothing will interrupt my viewing pleasure. The adverts start and I begin to acclimatise to the volume and size of the screen and in doing so, I dare say, the products on display are subliminally filtered into my brain. Then it’s time for the trailers, which I confess I want to see despite the fact I’m pretty sure I know what’s going to happen next. Most of the time, sadly, I’m proven correct. This is usually what follows….

We are told that the movie is “From the (insert loosely associated staff member) that brought you (blockbuster title, sometimes old). The further the distance between the staff member and the instigator of the blockbusting title dictates the film’s potential. Using the tractor-beam like power of Don La Fontaine’s tones (you know the voice) a quick, all-to-familiar premise of the film is described to us: “It was a time of magic and of mystery and of…”and so on. During this time the best action scenes are edited together, a lot of the time out of chronological sequence, and accompanied by all sorts of music. I mean “all sorts” in as much as I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard James Horner’s cues used in trailers. “Bishop’s Countdown” from Aliens alone was used in twenty-five different film’s trailers!

Here it is again, this time in the trailer for From Dusk Till Dawn:

Of course these are clever marketing techniques employed by the “bigwigs” who want you to see the “biggest movie since”…, the one the last trailer was for? However, several times I’ve noticed that these clever bods shoot themselves in the foot. They suggest that “If you only see one film this year…” Hello? I’m about to watch a movie now. After this trailer for what I’m pretty sure is not about this film. That’s fine for a TV spot or similar, but on the big screen? Okay, I’ll let that pass, now this movie that, if I choose to do so, is the only one I should see all year, what happens in it, what are you showing me? Well for a great number of movies, the answer is many scenes you may only see as extras on a DVD release if you are lucky!

I remember Tommy Lee-Jones’ Two-Face suggesting “If the bat wants to play, we’ll play.” Apparently he only said this in the trailer and not in the final cut. In Predators, Adrien Brody’s character is targeted by multiple Predators; in the movie there are just three. Obviously scenes do get cut out and sometimes we have to accept that the trailer shows parts that won’t be included. On the other hand though, I don’t want to know any spoilers, so why show me them? Recently I saw a trailer for a Daniel Craig film, Dream House. **WARNING-SPOILERS** After watching the trailer I honestly didn’t want to see the film, not because it looked poorly acted or produced, but because the trailer told me WHAT THE TWIST WAS! I couldn’t have missed it and I doubt anyone else did either.

At the end of the trailer we have a brief flash of credits and that’s it, now we’re ready for the main attraction…Oh no, finally we get the “screaming face coming at the screen” or the “bad guy shooting at the prone good guy, with the bullet-cam zooming at our hero-to-be.”

So that’s that, trailers tell lies both visually and audibly. They suggest you leave after the trailer and return only to watch THAT film. Sometimes they even get shown just so you’ll pay to see them before another film. Next time I go to the cinema, I’ll go just before the feature starts. Am I being honest? Well if you believe the trailers, you’ll believe anything!

J-P Wooding

Updated: Mar 28, 2013

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