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The Great Trailer Debate

Friday 18 May 2012, 13:27

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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I posted recently saying how much I hated long excerpts from films being used in marketing campaigns. This seems to have touched a nerve - here are some of your responses.

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    Comment number 1.

    Another thing you've got to thank excerpts for is a blow to 3D, Mark. In a recent DGA interview Christopher Nolan stated that he's recently "spoken up" when he screened an excerpt of The Dark Knight Rises to other directors and filmmakers to show them what IMAX is capable of, much more than what 3D is, and that film must be preserved over digital as a filmmaking medium.

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    Comment number 2.

    aaah the good Dr has had to take some of his own medicine and admit some partial guilt in the preview/trailer debate.

    I have recently moved to the USA and they go one step further (of course!) by running complete mini-documentaries up to 30 minutes before the main show. These include behind-the-scenes stuff for upcoming TV shows or movies. Feels a little like DVD-extra's that are put in.

    However, the big difference with trailers in the USA and in the UK, is that you don't really have a sense when the actual movie is beginning. In the UK you get that little few second BBFC card that pops up to let you know its been approved etc. In the USA they will go straight from trailer into the movie instantly.

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    Comment number 3.

    You are forgiven.

    Thinking about it, long before Avatar came out there was a trailer doing the rounds on YouTube which turned out to be fan made and of course had nothing of the actual film in it. But it was a brilliant teaser for the film and as others have said, it turned out to be better than the real trailer.

    To me this shows that trailers and teasers can be so vague that they can have almost no relation to the film they are for, but still have the desired effect on people.

    Again as somebody else pointed out, the teaser for the original Alien shows this perfectly.

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    Comment number 4.

    Trailers are annoying i agree, ironically I edit the things. I do however love watching trailers after I've actually seen the film or if it's a film I have no intention of watching.

    The thing is it's not just trailers that ruin a film for me, a review that's too in depth can be just as harmful, be careful Dr K... I know you are on the whole. Most the time I like to just know if Dr K likes it whilst 'skim listening' to the bulk of the review then go back and listen to it properly after I've seen the film for myself. Am I weird, probably.

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    Comment number 5.

    Your last line cracked me up! You sir are a legend!

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    Comment number 6.

    I have been resisting the urge to watch The Dark knight Rises trailer but fortunately i only have to hold out for 13 days until Prometheus hits screens.

    RE film club its been 3 weeks now can we get this party started, if anyone doesn't have a copy of Breathless its available from HMV for £5.

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    Comment number 7.

    Love how Mark says Avon Barksdale not getting The Wire reference

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    Comment number 8.

    You presented 10 minutes from Dawn 2004, that's fine, opinions can change. But has nobody mentioned the fact that this blog regularly features trailers and clips from films? The last entry, about The Raid is the most recent example, it had 2-3 minutes of clips.

    Take part if you want, don't if you don't want to. Nolan is intriguing and diverting about what he lets you know, or rather lets you think you know about his films. Generally I like to look at his trailers.

    Prometheus' full trailers seem to let you know the trajectory of the entire film - but surely a film this anticipated would be reckless to do this. Much as the disarming structure of The Dark Knight was a great surprise for me having assumed a lot about it from the trailers, I'm hoping Prometheus is the same. I'm hoping all of that footage is from no more than the first hour.

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    Comment number 9.

    Old trailers are lots of fun. If you like them you should head to Joe Dante's site Trailers From Hell where he has a archive of old trailers where you can turn on a director's commentary by Joe Dante, John Landis, Edgar Wright, Guillermo Del Toro and a bunch of others. Guillermo Del Toro's name should get you there I think.

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    Comment number 10.

    I agree that going through a film waiting to see bits of the trailer is annoying. I just saw The Dictator and oddly enough some of the lines in the trailer are not in the film - the same scene is in there but with an alternate take. For my money, some of the alternate takes used in the film are not as funny as the lines in the trailer.

    Also I would like to point out that most of the Prometheus viral campaign footage will not be in the film, so seeing this might enhance your viewing come June.

    I think that the trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (USA) got it right - it didn't give much away as rapid editing meant that each shot lasted less than a second.

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    Comment number 11.

    Dick Laurent is dead your not weird at all, i myself only half listen to to Mark's reviews to get an idea of wether the film is worth a look then when i get home i replay the clip to see how my reaction compares. I'm sure many others do this as i don't like feeling i've seen the film before i buy the ticket.

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    Comment number 12.

    Trailers are a tricky thing. I hate when they give too much away - seeing "Avengers Assemble" recently I realised that many of the really cool moments had already been in the trailers, so it was less of a surprise and more of a "Oh, so THAT's where that bit fits in!" "The Dark Knight Rises" is having much the same effect, as is "Prometheus", so Mark may have the right idea to leave once the trailer starts. But they're so much fun as well!

    Mark's point about trailers that tell you nothing about the film is a very good one, and what he mentions about trailers for "The Shining" and "Eyes Wide Shut" makes me think of teasers. When the teaser for the "The Dark Knight Rises" came out - - I was surprised at how much detail was included, because the teaser for "The Dark Knight" was so minimal. Perhaps that is the ideal medium - a trailer that teases, only giving the vaguest hints about what the film may feature, without giving away anything of the plot itself. Thoughts?

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    Comment number 13.

    Admittedly there's the odd gem of a trailer, just like imo there's the odd gem of a tv ad commercial (genuine piece of brilliant work) but waaaaaay more times, they are an advert/marketing/sales vehicle that is a complete stinking pile of.. . ok, maybe commercials are many times worse than trailers (!), but it's similar distortion sometimes:

    There was a recent trailer for Battle Royale, I can't remember if it was doing the rounds to fit in with people looking for a particular sort of entertainment off the back of another movie deemed in the same genre (Hunger Games?)? Anyway here's 3 trailers and 3 very different ways of demonstrating the movie to an audiences:

    1/ Japanese original trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BNyPKp1F5A
    2/ English/American dvd trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfoNiIXTOgA
    3/ European!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgKTcsAkYHs

    The differences in emphasis is astonishing and obviously reflects what market audience is intended. The English dvs/blu-ray is pitching at "Japanese horror/violence sick thrills perhaps?. The European one (latin) is much more about an emotional meltdown of horrific but touching violence; and the Japanese trailer is demonstrating a satirical take on a classroom's lack of discipline leading to the ultimate soultion: A violent lesson.

    This is really why I dislike trailers: I dislike the English pitch (exotic delights?) and it would ruin the movie taking that message into watching it if I had not seen it. So the problem is a trailer is a one-size-fits all for the territory it's released in, which is invariably going to be flawed for that marketing reason.

    --

    But even the Japanese trailer reveals a lot of the movie that if you went in with a blank slate the impact might be that much more impressive for such a shock imagining of the story's theme. Doubly so in this case? No doubt the book was well known in Japan, so the trailer played to that but atst remained closer to that source than the English pitch.

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    Comment number 14.

    The doctor is right, great trailers like The Shining are memorable because they make you want to see the movie, without spoiling the plot. These days trailers like Prometheus and Planet of the Apes sequentially show all plot points, and leave potential audiences little curiosity about the film.
    My guess is that the studio marketing departments figured out that ticket buyers want to be less curious about upcoming movies, and more assured that they get what is expected.

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    Comment number 15.

    On the subject of bad trailers; assuming it was attached to showings of The Avengers around the rest of the UK, I imagine a lot of you saw an ad for a British movie called 'Fast Girls'.

    Content of the film itself aside, I don't think I'd ever before seen a trailer that so comprehensively spoiled the film it was supposed to be advertising. It seemed to get through every major plot point, the love interest, a burgeoning rivalry AND the resolution to that rivalry in a mere two minutes. It was almost impressive really.

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    Comment number 16.

    To quote Frankenstein Dr K: You have created a monster, and it will destroy you!

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    Comment number 17.

    Regarding Prometheus, I have watched the three minute video with Michael Fassbender which is very good and does not appear to contain any plot from the film. I am currently weighing up whether or not to see Prometheus and will base my decision mainly on the opinions of the good doctor and Peter Bradshaw, those being the two film critics I find myself in most common agreement with.
    Oh dear I just ended a sentence with a preposition.
    I do like seeing films knowing as little about them as possible beforehand, as this makes it new and exciting. Recently I acquired Morvern Callar on DVD and until I got about 5 minutes into the film I had no idea that the title was somebody's name and I enjoyed knowing absolutely nothing about what might happen.
    However the other film which I watched recently knowing very little about it going in, was the somewhat less excellent Squid and the Whale. I did restrain from violence, but only just.

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    Comment number 18.

    Oh dear, next you're going to tell us that the re-launch of 3D was your idea. I have mixed feelings about trailers, i've tried to avoid them recently, however i did discover a brilliant film called Ballast because i saw a trailer, it gave nothing away but i had to seek it out, and i was terrific.

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    Comment number 19.

    I have had a great trailer experience, only because it was an experience on it's own. It started with a bank heist, perfectly executed to the point of escaping via helicopter. As the criminals took off laughing, the chopper gets flung back through the air and leaves them left discombobulated in a giant spider web. This was of course the earliest trailer for the first "Spiderman" film. Unfortunately, the trailer was cut as the spider web was woven between the twin towers and the trailer was released just before 9/11. Great shame.

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    Comment number 20.

    I like watching the trailers before the movie starts, but there should obviously be no plot spoilers and they should not be longer than 2 minutes (for danger of plot spoilers).

    Sometimes trailers do a good thing warning me of films that I don't need to see. Some weeks ago I saw the trailer of Dark Shadows (having never heard of the film or tv series before) and it made me think: Okay, I really do not want to see that film!! The 'gags' were not funny to me at all and I was sick of seeing a CGI-Johnny Depp in costume, again.
    Maybe people who think the trailer is funny will like the film, too (though Mark did not).

 

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