Today I plan on taking a small detour from my series of informative posts so that I can have a minor rant about movie trailers. I have always loved the trailers: and growing up with vocal-maestro’s such as Don LaFontaine and Hal Douglas leading the charge for many years, I think it is easy to see why. Nevertheless, as I get older, and as my appreciation for the work and machinations of cinema and television has deepened, I must admit to a growing discontent with more modern trailer traits.
Even though director Robert Zemeckis once claimed that the purpose of trailers was to inform the audience – “We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly every thing that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It’s just one of those things.” – I tend to disagree. For me, the point of a trailer is to hook in the audience: to tease us, to leave us wanting more, to get us to a point of wanting to depart with our hard-earned money in order to see the production. That is the non-verbal contract that is entered into when an audience member – namely, me – watches a trailer. And to be honest – a poorly made trailer can very easily break that contract.
So having just watched a brand new trailer – let me share it with you (as well as a comparison trailer), and I’ll explain where I’m coming from.
To my mind, the trailer that fails in its duty of audience-teasing is the one for Southpaw. The reason is fairly simple: minus the ultimate ‘battle’ sequence (which to be honest, we can already draw our own conclusions on, right?), it feels like I have just seen the whole story. Seriously. The. Entire. Story. It is already behind in points by simply being film which explores a tired premise (a fallen champion looking for redemption/love) dumped into our laps – but then we get a blow-by-blow plot outline while we’re at it. Who needs to see the film when the trailer has basically given us a Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version of the movie? The contract is broken, and I feel no need to see the film.
Comparatively, Nolan’s teaser for The Dark Knight was a total knock-out for millions of fans globally. It is not like the world doesn’t know about Batman, you know. Given that the Dark Knight’s greatest nemesis has always been the Joker, his involvement was also a no-brainer. Nevertheless, we were masterfully teased into wanting more. That is what I am talking about!
I am mourning the loss of genuinely great movie trailers that don’t have to spell it out. Is anyone with me?