My love affair with movie trailers goes back a long way. I remember going to the movies as a kid and making sure I got there in time for the previews, I would be obsessive about it, don’t be late, get your seat, go to the bathroom and get your snacks cause if you miss the previews the whole movie experience is ruined. I despise the people that go to the movie late so they miss all of the coming attractions, how can you do that? Even when the graphic comes up on the screen for coming attractions I get a little excited. I will give my wife an excited nudge with my elbow as if to say “Huh? Huh? Look what’s coming. Giggle giggle snicker.” She hates every single time I do it, then I’ll do it again when a good trailer comes on. I’m sure this is on her list of things that piss her off about me. What drives me crazy is most of the time she would rather not see the trailer so she doesn’t know what is going on in the movie when she finally does see it. I guess opposites attract. Crazy lady.
The trailers need to be good, they can taint the whole movie if you get a batch of shitty trailers. Likewise if all of the trailers were good and movie kind of stank, I still walk away with a win. I know trailers to some people are just commercials, but to me they are like mini-movies. There is a definite art to the composition of a trailer, you need your set up, your character development, the conflict, the resolution (or at least the hint to the resolution, you don’t want to give away the ending). The funny line at the end for comedies, the scare for horror, the long lasting kiss or hug for love stories and the big battle scene, monster or adventurous gauntlet for the action-adventure. Some people even write scripts for their trailer.
The category of movie trailers is vast and now with the internet I have access to as many trailers as my viewing orbs can handle. There is the teaser trailer, The actual trailers (multiple versions are sometimes done, not only different cuts but sometimes for different countries or languages. Sometime they will even change the whole message of the trailer if they are not getting good feedback), the featurette (a small fluff piece on the movie on either how it’s made or the actors or whatever, see an example here), then there is the clips (actual chunks or scenes from the movie). Some movies will actually let you watch the first ten minutes from the film, hoping they can get you hooked, but it can backfire too if it sucks. All of these pieces are rolled out in a precise and calculated manner determined by some studio marketing executive that will entice us to see their film. Some trailers will come out a full year before the movie!?! Maybe they are trying to create sizzle, get people talking about it early, but I forget stuff five minutes after I’m told, so good luck with that.
Then there is the style of trailers, you have the old school, narrated trailer, I love these. “One man, one destiny, in a world where Cabbage Patch Dolls rule the earth…” you get the picture. The man who is most famous for this is Don LaFontaine. I would love to talk like him, I would narrate my life “One man, one beer, in a world where light beer sucks and calories are king…” I would be so dramatic, too much fun. Some use type instead of the narration but it is essentially the same thing. Then there is the more recently used, condensed movie experience, this to me is my favourite. It feels like a quote to me, a pint sized chuck of entertainment that leaves you with a sense of what the bigger picture is. I will see a movie just based on the strength of the trailer.
Maybe these are the movies of the future? Our attention spans are getting so short maybe this is the way we will consume full length features in the future, then if you like the trailer you can fill in the missing bits like episodic television. That is something else I want to talk about, why we watch TV the way we do, what’s the deal? Why do we have to wait a week to get the next chunk of the story? But that is a topic for another blog, damn ADD acting up again. So if you like trailers as much as I do give me some feedback on where you get your fix. See the list of links below for where I watch mine. So next time you go to the movies don’t be late for the previews, look around, I’ll be there with my popcorn, drink and an empty bladder, nudging you with my elbow ready to go!