The growing problem with movie trailers revealing too much
Photo Caption: Taken 3. 20th Century Fox, 2014. Film.
Have you ever watched a movie and just felt like you paid to watch an extended version of the trailer? Or have there been times that you saw a trailer so long that you felt like you had already watched the best parts? It seems to be happening more frequently. These ads are supposed to sell you into watching a film based on showing you a preview of what it’s like, however they’re giving away way too much information.
While teaching Critiquing Film, Mark Robison commented on how disappointing these trailers can be. “Sometimes you see a trailer and it looks hilarious, but when you watch the movie itself, you realize you've seen all three (of the only) jokes.”
Dr. Robison is right, many times comedies play all the best jokes in the trailer. And trailers for action movies show you every fight scene, horror movie trailers show clips of each character’s demise and trailers for dramas depict their own synopsis. I felt comfortable not watching Taken 3 after seeing the trailer reveal the death of his wife and possibly a short piece of every fight scene in it.
In 2013, I and fellow readers of the Hunger Games trilogy were surprised to see the quarter quell revealed in the trailer of Catching Fire. While not entirely unpredictable, this information was meant to be somewhat of a surprise to the viewers.
The Hangover’s trailer showed that the trio would run into and get assaulted by Mike Tyson, which seems intended to be a surprise cameo out of nowhere. A movie that did surprise cameo’s right was last summer’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, which I wouldn’t feel right to spoil by citing examples like saying, “It had Ryan Reynolds...whoops.”
I sat down with Union College’s newly formed power-couple, Joe Hoffman and Chelsea Aguilera, to discuss the phenomenon of trailers ruining their plots in recent years.
Chelsea, a senior psychology major, and Joe, a religion major, agree, “Whenever people are really impressed with a movie, it’s because there was a great twist. Other movies that spoil a twisted ending in the trailer are never as good.”
By now you probably get the picture, and are perhaps reliving your own trailer memory woes. Hollywood tries hard to create trailers that will attract an audience and sell their movie on them. But is it fair to us as the viewer to have to pay to watch what is essentially a series of chuckles building up to the jokes we already know, or to sigh through an entire film where the trailer already told us the buddy is actually the villain the whole time (looking at you James Bond Goldeneye)? I certainly don’t think so, sometimes I go out of my way to ignore trailers to films with a high advertising budget that I really want to watch.
If you’re like me, you want your relationships with movies to have a little mystery for down the road. My advice? Stick to checking out short “teaser trailers” that carry a minimal amount of information and spend the 10 minutes of “theatrical trailers” buying concessions while you’re at the movies. It’s a better deal for you in the end.
Jordan is a senior studying psychology.