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Trailer Treachery

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Mark Kermode | 14:18 UK time, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Whether using the popular visages of Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell to promote The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus or a night vision shot of a movie audience launching its popcorn in the air to demonstrate how terrified everyone will be when they see Paranormal Activity (the new "scariest movie ever"), trailers are there to let you know exactly what you'll be spending your movie ticket money on. So what exactly is going on in the trailer for the new movie version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Easily FOX's ALIEN 3 trailer- on earth everyone can hear you scream.

    I've read a lot about the tortured production of alien 3 and early several scripts but i don't ever remember anything about aliens on earth. The consolation is that the people that made all of these terrible decisions lost their jobs and Fight Club was the film that came out of the ashes of it all for Fincher.

  • Comment number 2.

    I know you didnt want 'trailers that are just bad', but i had to alert you to the 'teaser' for Soylent Green, whereby the twist is actually revealled in the trailer!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I thought that Antichrist's trailer made it look like another stupid horror movie whereas the film was incredible.
    Oldboy's american trailer made it look like a stupid action film and Red Cliff was made to look like yet another chinese war movie - even more ridiculous that they cut the movie down from its orginal runtime!

  • Comment number 4.

    I think my most recent problem with trailers has been for Inglorious Basterds (spelling?). The trailer made it look like some crazy, grindhouse-esque action film, however, it turns out to be a lot more in the arthouse category. The first time watching the film I was not mentally prepared, which made me more hostile in creating an opinion for the film. On second viewing I enjoyed it a lot more as I knew better what to expect, although I would still not go so anywhere near calling it a masterpiece. I believe that one must have some basic mental preperation for a film, which trailers should aid.

  • Comment number 5.

    Many people may disagree with this, but my experience of watching the Smokin' Aces trailer and watching the actual film were completely different.

    I went into the theatre expecting a rampaging mixture of crime, torture, explosions, extortion, and tounge in cheek humour. Hell, maybe even some random graphic female nudity. What i got was entirely different. The "action" was rather short and mostly took place in the middle/end section of the film, but before and after that there was just nonsensical planning and illumination of character backstory; in a very Ocean's Twelve kind of way. Also there was a lot of emotional drama that made my friend turn to me and actually ask "did we walk into the right cinema?".

    My opinion of the film isn't all bad, but I don't see why they felt they had to market it as if it were Crank 2.0: Revenge of the Frantic Camera.

  • Comment number 6.

    Recently it has to be Adventureland. The red band trailer for this film just splices together every moment a naughty word is uttered to make to movie look like just another repugnant teen comedy rather than the genuine, heartfelt story it actually is.
    I work in film marketing (although I'm not reponsible for the trailers!) and I'm afraid the reason this happens is down to one thing: money. At the end of the day, making films is an expensive exercise and film distribution is a business, and sadly for 99% of releases the primary objective is to try and make money, or at least recoup your costs. Take the example of The Road: which type of movie is there a bigger audience out there for - A) a fast paced post apocalyptic action movie or B) an unrelentingly bleak drama about the collapse of society? Be honest.
    It's depressing and not the way it should be, but that's the way it is! On the plus side, you may trick people into a film they would normally have seen and show them something they really love, broadening their horizons and increasing their chances seeing more challenging, smaller films in future!

  • Comment number 7.

    One of my favourite films is Master and Commander, however the trailer made it appear like it was a fast paced action adventure similar to Pirates of the Caribbean. The trailer focused almost entirely on the battle sequences, entirely missing out the friendship between Capt. Jack Aubrey and the ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin, which is a main theme in book and film. When I went to see this I knew what to expect (having family members who had read the book), however I think many people who had only seen the trailer were left disappointed by the lack of action.

  • Comment number 8.

    The trailer for the Seth Rogan movie "Observe & Report" made it look like it was a light hearted romp like "knocked up" or "superbad" when it was in fact one of the blackest comedies I have seen in years.
    It is one of those movies where you laugh and then think "Oh s*%t that's not right"

    It got a lot of bad reviews which I believe were because of the marketing campaign that tried to make it look like the woeful "Paul Blart Mall Cop" when it was more like "The King of Comedy"

    It's no classic but its marketing is what caused its problems

  • Comment number 9.

    Third line from bottom should read "wouldn't normally have seen"!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Easy Peasy.
    Tim Burton's 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street'

    ^ Makes no reference, nor gives any clue that it's a MUSICAL, and numerous elements of the promotional campaign neglected to mention this.

    You should mention Mark though, the upcoming 'The Fourth Kind' which has Milla Jovovich confidently stating that it's based on true events, that witness testimonies exist, she plays a real person and it really's rubbish, and all viral marketing (as many movie blogs are showing).

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Dr K

    I usually find when I'm at the cinema my head shaking with despair whilst watching the trailers before the main feature. I find many trailers uninspiring and as a consequence I have avoided many films;1012 is the latest big feature film I'll be avoiding.

    I usually find trailers uninspiring because editorially they all look and feel the same, for their type of genre, i.e. trailers for horror films look and feel the same, trailers for action movies look and feel same, etc. There's very little in the trailers to make me want to watch one film more than another. This is probably why I'm struggling to think of any films I have watched because of the trailer. So, before deciding to go to the cinema I do the norm of considering the director, the cast and listening out to what critics have to say - mainly yourself and Barry Norman - and friends whose views I trust. I also go on gut instinct.

  • Comment number 12.

    How about the teaser trailer to Sam Raimi's "Spider-man"

    I thought it was an amazing looking scene and great trailer, you didn't know what movie it was for until near the end.

    We all know why it was cut but surely it could be reinserted into a director's cut on DVD. The Dark knight then just did the whole bank raid 6 years later and people thought wow this is amazing.

    I hate when studios start to interfere and butcher a movie.

  • Comment number 13.

    I remember the trailer for My Girl, which made it look like a sappy, happy romantic kiddie flick, the kind my mum and older sister would love. I was a little puzzled, then, when they returned home from seeing it in floods of tears, honking about that 'poor Macauley'.

    Also, the trailer for In Bruges nearly put me off seeing it, making it look like some bad-taste, Guy O'Ritchie gangster nonsense. Thankfully, it was a short-lived mistake, but now, when I can I avoid watching trailers all together. There are plenty of other ways to know which films are coming out.

  • Comment number 14.

    I do remember watching a trailer at the cinema for the Heath Ledger film "A Knight's Tale" and thinking it's going to be one of those dreadful Hollywood attempts at making a serious historical drama about jousting.

  • Comment number 15.

    Two words: In Bruges. Upon looking at the trailer, you'd think it was just a cheap Guy Ritchie imitation with Colin Farrell mugging his way through the material. In fact, it's a beautifully crafted dark comedy made by the great Martin McDonagh, a writer of substance and wit. It also features Farrell's best work to date. I'm convinced it would've been more successful had the trailer represented the film honestly.

  • Comment number 16.

    They really fooled me with this trailer for the Shinning

  • Comment number 17.

    Bridge to Terabithia

    Any film in a foreign language ...

  • Comment number 18.

    A trailer that most misrepresents the film it's selling? That's easy - Apocalypse Now Redux. I'm no fan of the redux version, in fact I think it's vastly inferior to the masterpiece original - but the trailer for it has taken the 1979 film and obviously marketed it towards the kids of today. Every shot from the film with an explosion in it is put in, fast paced music is played to the beat of the editing which makes any Michael Bay movie look like a Swedish documentary about turnip farming and there's even a shot of one of the Playboy bunnies dancing for good measure. What is this? Apocalypse Now, the slow-paced and meditative film that's more about the human psyche than war, or Saving Sexy Private Ryan?

  • Comment number 19.

    The one which always sticks in my mind when thinking about misleading trailers is the one for the first Madagascar film. Watching the trailer you'd think the film was both a)funny and b) good. It was neither.

  • Comment number 20.

    Worst trailer experience ever has to be, hands down, Secret Window. I remember being extremly disappointed by the movie, not because of the story itself, but because I was expecting a more si-fi story with parallel dimensions and what-not, all relating to this "secret window."

  • Comment number 21.

    Probably the Solaris trailer. I really like Solaris but this trailer was not the reason I ever saw it:

    The trailer suggests the film is an actioner or something. it's not that. It's a type of reflective, psychological, sci fi story that works well over all.

    Here's a recut that is more honest to the film - gives away the ending a little though...

  • Comment number 22.

    I always partically felt that the reason Fight Club did so poor during it's intial cinema run was becasue trailers for the the film made it look like it was just a film about underground boxing

  • Comment number 23.

    Stardust! The trailer made it look like a Lord of the Rings wannabe. Completely editing out any humour or quirkiness that makes it a very enjoyable film.

  • Comment number 24.

    The Planes, Trains and Automobiles trailer totally misrepresented the film. I doubt it was neccessarily a bad thing that it made the film look like a zany madcap comedy because in places it is not a million miles from that, but the one thing the trailer does not let the viewer know is that not only are you going to get an hilarious comedy, but probably one of the finest comedies of all time, a genuine masterpiece that is John Hughes finest film, one which takes him out of teen romance territory, instead giving us an adult-themed film but with an appeal to a wide audinece and one which comments on class and the intolerance that breeds from class division, a human film that pulls at the heart strings like no other comedy i have ever seen. No scene better represents this film than the emotional montage when Steve Martin's Neil Paige is finally on his way home and looks back on the fun times he had with John Candy's Del Griffith only to realise he has been a jerk and that Del is a lonely but warm character, inherently sad yet optimistic in the company of his fellow man. The scene is soundtracked with a mournful instrumental from The Dream Academy. That scene sums up the entire film so much better than the "crazy comedy with zany music" that the trailer puts forth. RIP John Hughes

  • Comment number 25.

    I just avoid them as best i can these days. Because more often that not now, far too much is given away.

    Plus, it's never really a good thing to go into a movie with preconceived notions of what you're about to see in my opinion. Thankfully my Cinema feels the same way most times i visit and only plays those hideously loud extended adverts.

  • Comment number 26.

    The Eyes Wide Shut trailer is an interesting case in point:

    On first viewing, this seems to fit the bill. Looking at this trailer, you'd think it was going to be a racy erotic thriller that would 'excite' audiences, particularly male ones. And then you watch the film, which is two-and-a-half hours long, shot in a dreamy way and whose sex scenes are repulsive.

    The first time I saw Eyes Wide Shut I had exactly this reaction. But then I watched it again recently and realised that it made sense. I know Mark hates the film - calling it "the inane ramblings of an old man who needed to get out more" - but stay with me a second.

    Kubrick films are all about subverting expectations. You go in expecting one thing, you come out having seen something completely different and feeling the need to talk about it. Take his previous film, Full Metal Jacket. You expect it to be like Platoon, all battles in the Vietcong jungle and lots of people you don't care about getting killed for the sake of spectacle. Instead you get a harrowing insight into dehumanisation, gender and the nature of urban warfare.

    Kubrick knew that Eyes Wide Shut would be greatly anticipated, not least because of its two big stars. The film is not about sex or getting laid as some people thought, it's about narcissism and the destructive power of jealousy. He led audiences to believe that the orgy sequences would be titilating (literally), so that it was a bigger and more powerful shock when the audience found the orgy sequence repulsive. In Eyes Wide Shut Kubrick holds up a mirror to our society's love of sex, power and physical pleasure in order to challenge our ability to take our excesses for granted.

    It's not Kubrick's best film by a long stroke, but the point is that the trailer serves a purpose, the same purpose as that of the film, namely to offer an unpopular but equally valid view of sex and monogamy which stands against our expectations and the increasing conventions of our society.

    That's not to say of course that all attempts at such a device work. I would refer the Good Doctor to his post on Zak and Miri Make a Porno for an example of a failure in this area.

  • Comment number 27.

    A number of years ago I was at the cinema and the advert for Saving Private Ryan came on. I vividly recall turning to my friend and saying,
    "Oh my god this looks like the cheesiest, most sentimental heap of yankee bilge.".

    I avoided it solely because of that advert, despite the press. My flatmate then rented it on DVD the next year. It turns out that it was a piece of stunning, innovative film-making of the magnitude I'd never seen before! That is until about half an hour in, when it slipped into, funny enough, a lot of cheesy, sentimantal bilgery!

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Dr.K

    Now that I think of it, the trailer for William Friedkin's Bug builds up to something that is pretty generic for a horror film trailer. Flashy edits, ascending soundtrack, and shallow footage which links many other generic horror film trailers (such as Saw). However, the film (although unsettling) does not have go as madcap as the trailer suggests. The film gradually builds up towards insanity on behalf of the characters, not the "bugs". The horror and the insanity is more psychological than visceral.

    The set up of 'they feed on your brain' suggests something more literal, which I think is misleading towards the film itself.

  • Comment number 29.

    Bram Stoker’s Dracula has got to be the worse culprit for this.

    I love the Dracula movies from the Universal and Hammer days, but the trailer, the film makers and the actors gave the impression that this was a faithful adaptation of the classic novel, which it clearly wasn‘t.

    I would have enjoyed the movie more, despite the inconsistencies between the film and the novel, but it’s the wooden performance of Keanu Reeves, who shamelessly slaughters the British accent, and spoils what could have been a fun, and over the top Coppola movie.

  • Comment number 30.

    I might be wrong but I seem to remember the trailer for Muriel's Wedding sold it as a very frothy, lightweight, feel-good comedy, when in fact it's one of the most depressing films I've ever seen (maybe because of skewed expectations). Since when did loneliness and callousness and best friend dying of cancer = feel-good??

  • Comment number 31.

    The two that jump immediately to mind: - The Village. Sold as a straight horror movie essentially. - The Wrestler. Doesn't misrepresent the plot, but it makes it appear far more "feel-good" than it was.

  • Comment number 32.

    The best example I can think of for a film that's completely different to the trailer is Welles's F For Fake.

    And I agree with KubrickandScott that the Eyes Wide Shut trailer is there to purposely mislead to the audience (in a good way).

    Cloverfield disappointed me after its promise - I didn't expect to find the characters so annoying based on it.

  • Comment number 33.

    I second the In Bruges trailer. In fact that whole marketing campaign was awful, including that woeful DVD cover with Colin Farrell holding that stupid cartoonish pink whippy ice cream. "Ooh, look at the jolly japes as the funny bumbling hitmen prance around with mixed up briefcases and shooting mannequins instead of real people. Well thank heavens my preview of it was through The Culture Show's Andrew McDonagh interview. Turned out to be one of the darkest films of the year - and to its credit it was funny and moving and eventually nail-bitingly tense as well. Shame it didn't pick up the screenplay Oscar.

  • Comment number 34.

    The one that got me was Hancock. The first trailer I saw pitched it essentially as a comedy with loads of fun set-pieces & something of a reaction to po-faced superhero movies. The second trailer gave hint to the fact that Hancock is on a road to redemption, but again with a great sense of fun (the clips from later in the movie showing Will Smith in classic one liner mode). When I saw the film however I realised that the funny sequences (eg the whale, landing in the back of the getaway car etc) had all been used in the trailer & were less entertaining the second time round. The more serious overtones that appear in the 2nd half of the film are not signposted in the trailer & when you've gone in expecting a straight-up comedy you do leave somewhat bemused. It wasn't an awful film but the trailers completely mis-sold it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Secretary. Seemed like exploitative pablum from the trailer and the box (dear god, the box), but when I finally grabbed a copy of the DVD and took a look, it turned out to be a brilliant piece of cinema.

  • Comment number 36.

    Recently, I felt completely lead astray by the cinematic trailer for 'Adventureland', which positioned the film as a kind-of Judd Apatow-esque juvenile comedy, placing far too much emphasis on the brief moments within the film when the dialogue contained crude jokes & adolescent obscenity.

    The film was presented as the kind of banal, teen comedy that we've come to expect in the wake of 'Superbad' et al. The tragedy being that the film was in reality a very intelligent, thoughtful piece of work with a great deal more to offer to the viewer than its trailer attempted to suggest.

    I came away feeling like I had watched a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable drama with some great moments of comic relief, but simply failed to understand the impetus behind constructing a trailer which presented the film as the latest in a long line of poor teen comedies, which it certainly was not.

  • Comment number 37.

    East Is East would be my choice. The trailer made it look like a light-hearted, whacky comedy, when it was really more of a drama with elements of humour. When I first saw it, I hated it because it wasn't at all what I thought it was meant to be. When I saw it again, I actually found it funnier because I understood where it was coming from.

    I was working in a cinema when Fight Club came out and they cancelled showing it after a week because literally no-one was turning up. I am sure that this is down to the trailer, which at the time gave everyone the impression that it was a dull and brainless film about a bunch of men having punch-ups for no reason.

  • Comment number 38.

    The village is a good answer. How could they interest people for this movie without spoiling it by telling them what it is really about?

  • Comment number 39.

    Bridge to Terabithia all the way here. I heard some good things about it from my friends and so decided to go see it - it was a powerful, enchanting, lovely little children's film that most importantly didn't talk down to children like so many children's films do.

    When I got home a friend told me to look at the trailer online. The trailer portrays the film, not as the honest story of friendship that it is, but instead by cutting together all 40 or so seconds of fantasy sequences from the film as another generic, uninteresting, cloying kid's fantasy film. I'm very pleased I didn't see the trailer first otherwise I may not have seen the film.

  • Comment number 40.

    I recently re-watched the classic film "The Big Sleep", and then I watched the trailer on DVD. The trailer advertises the film almost solely on the backs of Bogart and Bacall - a.k.a. "That Man" and "That Woman". It has some action shots, but not even the slightest hint of a plot.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm sure there are worst ones but a recent one I remember was The Mist (2008). A trailer that played on it being a scarey monster movie that appeals to the people that probably liked Date Movie. I was very surprised to find a film that was actually a well layered movie that I saw as the best movie of 2008!

  • Comment number 42.

    Remember the trailers for Hard Candy, it showed absolutely no footage of the film whatsoever... and intrigued me enough to want to see just what it was. I say in that case it was definitely keeping the film from me that influencing my seeing it. Also i am sure you remember the old trailer for the exploitation films of the 70s/early 80s (usually zombie/cannibal flicks where the entire film was basically shown to you with the films title being blared out at half minute intervals in the epic spoiler of a trailer. Did they really ruin the film... or did you already know what was coming.

  • Comment number 43.

    Some obscenely bad and misleading trailers for some really great films include.....

    The Witchfinder General whose trailer makes it look like some kind of quirky and utterly ridiculous comedy......where as in fact it was perhaps one of the greatest British horror films of the 60's and definitely one of the most grim.

  • Comment number 44.

    One of the worst ones I have seen is the trailer for "What Lies Beneath". It doesn´t just give away too much of the plot - it manages to reveal the ENTIRE storyline from start to finish. What is the point of going to see a thriller with "murder and mystery" when you already know the mystery as well as the character who´s going to kick the bucket?

    Surely the right way to advertise movies such as these is to reveal only snippets from the plot, not by eliminating any sense of surprise you could have had if you hadn´t seen the trailer. A good opposite of this is the trailer for "District 9", which reveals just enough to make you interested in the story, but leaves out all the really important bits that make the movie so enjoyable.

  • Comment number 45.

    The trailer for Run Fatboy Run was hilarious. The film was woeful. All the best bits were in the trailer. That is quite common with comedies. As The DOKTOR will agree most comedies get between 5 and 7 laughs. If you laugh 4 times during the trailer there isn't much left for the rest of the movie.

  • Comment number 46.

    Slumdog Millionaire and Zombieland, for me. The latter had telly ads that went on about it being 'the feel good film of the decade' and completely missing all the torture and hardship that comes before the happy ending and that Jai Ho end credits dance.

    Zombieland, while the poster of the main four characters accurately represents the rock n roll tone of the film, the current trailers I saw on TV just showed mainly zombies, when the film is more a road film with zombies occasionally than zombies throughout its short running time.

    Both good films, though.

  • Comment number 47.

    Also, I think it's worth checking out, with concern to bad film trailers, Trailer Failure by Distressed Watcher: they're long videos, though.

    Yes, that is Amazing Atheist from Youtube.

  • Comment number 48.

    Danny Boyle has suffered this twice recently: Slumdog Millionaire reimagined as a feel good Bolly fest, and Sunshine mis-sold as yet another end of the world romp, with a premise only slightly less dumb than The Core's. It didn't do Slumdog any harm, but Sunshine, which was at least half a good film, was unfairly dismissed by many.

  • Comment number 49.

    The trailer for Once Upon A Time In The West makes it look much more of an action movie than it really is, it is also spoiler-ridden as it shows all the murders in the movie.
    Also, I agree with what has been said about the trailer for In Bruges, the trailer woefully misreprents the movie as a silly tarantino-knockoff while the actual movie is not at all silly and is more akin to David Mamet than Quentin Tarantino.

  • Comment number 50.

    Easy for me, In Bruges was just about the worst case of misrepresentive marketing that I could think of. A very dark hearted comedy with deep emotional journey at the very core of the film, yet it was portrayed as a light hearted comedy gangster romp almost in the guise of Guy Ritche. The music in the trailer certaintly does it no favours and is really the biggest problem, fast paced rocknroll music over scenes of action suggest a exciting guns blazing shoot up. When in actual fact that is unbelievably far from the truth as it only had one action scene and the fact that they didn't use Carter Burwell's haunting and beautiful original score was crinimal.

  • Comment number 51.

    The recut shining trailer is CLASSIC. This one's my favorite:

    In regards to the Doc's question, I felt the trailer for The Lookout made it look like a run of the mill heist movie, but I was pleasantly when I rented it on DVD. The trailer definitely kept me (and a lot of other people) out of the theater.

  • Comment number 52.

    Uptown Girls. Hands down. The trailer, complete with upbeat music and velvety narration that explicitly featured the word "comedy", promised a lighthearted and innocuous evening's entertainment. My mom and I found it to be a dreary, grinding, bleakly depressing film whose morose march to attempted tear-jerking was only broken up by the one or two "hilarious" pratfalls which featured heavily in the trailer. It rather spoiled the evening.

  • Comment number 53.

    Trailers for Wes Anderson movies never work. They always focus solely on the comedy and never convey the sense of melancholy that is so essential to his work.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think someone has previously mentioned this but I walked into Sweeney Todd and when he started singing was flaberghasted! They really went to great efforts to hide the fact that it was a musical, probably because they realised the music was not very memorable and thus the reason the film was sub-par.

    It would have been better as a regular thriller, that or they needed a better songwriter.

  • Comment number 55.

    Bride to Terabithia I never watched because the trailer made it look so bad. I have heard it is actually very moving, but despite having read more about it and hearing good things, my girlfriend at the time still refused to go and see it on the basis of the trailer.

    I guess any film like a Wes Anderson film will suffer in the trailer when there aren't any bits you can chop out that are funny out of context or without a big build up. Although it's not quite a trailer, Ghost Town is an example where publicity and TV shows kept showing clips from the film that weren't funny on their own (the bit with the dog mainly), whereas I found the film itself mostly very funny.

  • Comment number 56.

    @MarkoosMuse - Well the thing is that Sweeny Todd was an adaptation of the highly acclaimed and multi-award-winning 1979 musical by Stephen Sondheim, so it being a musical was the whole point. I agree that the songs weren't very memorable, although I'm not sure they're supposed to be hit songs exactly.

  • Comment number 57.

    The first film that springs into my mind is 'The Hurt Locker'. I saw the trailer in the cinema, which was basically just lots of shots of things blowing up and soldiers swearing and doing other annoyingly macho things, and assumed that it was just another dumb war action film. However, I went to see it after reading all the glowing reviews and (lucky me) it turned out to be a viscerally thrilling and yet intelligent film, based around a wonderfully complex portrait of a man addicted to seeing how close he can get to death and still survive.

    Also, MarkoosMuse is having a laugh if he thinks that in Sweeney Todd "the music was not very memorable and thus the reason the film was sub-par." Sondheim is one of the greatest composers and lyricists musical theatre has ever seen, and he is on absolute top form with Sweeney Todd.

  • Comment number 58.

    On a slightly different note. Trailers re-edited to look like different movies.

  • Comment number 59.

    Star Wars The Phantom Menace. A trailer so exciting that Empire Magazine have just picked it as an era defining piece of celluloid. Before going on to point out what a disappointment the resulting film is.

  • Comment number 60.

    You're guilty, too, Doc: the peach gel at the top of this video suggests it was directed by Tony Scott, when surely it wasn't. Surely.

  • Comment number 61.

    This first teaser trailer for the Lord of the Rings made the whole trilogy look like it was coing to be an Americanised piece of run-of-the-mill, fantasy garbage... How wrong is that??

  • Comment number 62.

    Just as you should never judge a book by its cover so you should never judge a film by its trailer.

    By biggest gripes are: Trailers nowadays dictate that certain scenes have to go in a movie so they can be in the trailer. Something exploding for example, usually with someone running away from it towards the camera. A car crash, a woman screaming, two people struggling and do on.
    Often the film would be improved by not having these scenes, but the trailer has to make it appear that the film is exciting.
    Films with scenes that don't appear in the final movie are mysterious; occasionally they seem to show the best stunt etc the film could have, so why omit it?

    Posters do a similar thing; try and sell a movie as one thing when its another completely. (I'm glad I saw In Bruges; as others have said it wasn't the comedy the advertising made it out to be, though it had its flaws mind.)

    Trailers that have all the best bits in their 30 seconds, then you have sit and to endure all the dross in between.

    Trailer that make the film look much better than it deserves. e.g. Quantum of Solace.

    Why oh why does one guy with a husky voice do 90% of the voiceovers and, apparently, decide how a film should be sold: Ya know :- "Imagine a world where..."
    Film makers hire creative people to do costumes, sets, credits and so on, so why does one guy get to do all the voiceovers?

    I don't mind so much trailers that tell you the plot in 30 seconds or crucial plot twists. e.g. What lies beneath. It saves me having to see the actual films themselves. To be honest, apart from the occasional Soylent Green it rarely pays to see those films anyway.

    Best thing is ignore hype and advertising and see a film anyway and make your own judgement. Having said that if '9' is disappointing then Grrrr; its trailer looks pretty good.

  • Comment number 63.

    The trailer for Deep Impact annoyed me intensely. Giant tidal waves, end of the world, fire and brimstone, and ... it lasted about 5 minutes of the entire film, the rest of which was clichéd twaddle. In all honesty, I've stopped watching trailers completely. There's only so much deep voice overs and flashing images someone can take before descending into an epileptic fit.

    These days, I only watch films based on certain people's reviews and recommendations (and my own judgement). In fact, all advertising is generally rotten, and should be shoved under Deep Impact's meteorite. That also includes most film posters, which are increasingly throwing ***** (that's stars, not a swear word) all over the poster.

    Very often, you can discern the quality of the film by seeing how easy it is to read the name of the publication that gave the aforementioned *****. Another tactic I've noticed is to give two quotes (like "awesome" and "best thing I've ever seen") from the same stupid publication, presented as if it were from two different reviewers. Evil has a face, and its called advertising.

    Thank God for the Good Doctor, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes, that's all I can say.

  • Comment number 64.

    Dr K.

    I think this article is exactly what you're looking for, it's a list of 5 things movie trailers need to stop doing, with examples.

    #5.Show Scenes That Are Not In The Movie

    Superbad and Black Christmas are the two examples here, Black Christmas being a real offender

    #4.Use The Same Damn Songs Over And Over Again

    We're sick of hearing "Wild Thing" whenever someone's a bit of a bad boy/girl, and "I Feel Good" for comedies

    #3.Just Go Ahead And Ruin The Entire Goddamn Movie

    Soylent Green showed the scene with the body bags on the conveyor belt in it's trailer. Cast Away's trailer ruins the ending (actually ending the trailer with the final shot of the film, just before the credits rolled)

    #2.Lie About Who The Star Is

    Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which heavily features Angelina Jolie in the trailer, when she first meets the main character over an hour into the movie. Star Trek: Generations, which makes it appear Kirk *won't* be killed so quickly he may as well be in a red shirt

    Worst of all is definitely Snow Dogs, which used the only dream sequence in the whole film for it's trailer, making it seem like the whole film would star talking dogs with Cuba Gooding Jr being the supporting actor. What tops it all off is that the film opened #1 in the US box office because of it.

    #1.Just Completely Lie About What Kind of Movie It Is

    ET's trailer made it look like Jaws meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Then when that did well, Gremlins was made out to be a tale of a kid and his furry little best friend.

    Every serious film starring Robin Williams is made to look like a comedy.

    And Kangaroo Jack made out the film would star a sassy rapping kangaroo, attracting all the kids (much like Snow Dogs did) but instead of a family comedy they were tricked them into seeing a raunchy, boob and gay joke-centric action movie.

  • Comment number 65.

    Collateral. It made it appear that Tom Cruise was some kind of heroic vigilante. Jamie Foxx barely appeared and during a quick cut of the nightclub shootout I remember the voice-over was something like, "he's taking out the trash"!

  • Comment number 66.

    Dear Dr K, There are quite a few that come to mind though most have already been mentioned. "Slumdog millionaire" is the most notable, the trailer made it look like a cheesy rom-com and I was actually put off seeing it for quite a while until friends made it clear that it was quite different to how I expected. "Fight Club",one of my favourite films had an awful trailer marketing it as like a US Guy Richie movie, while "The Village" was marketed as a period horror film rather than the tedious psychological drama it later proved to be.

  • Comment number 67.

    Whenever possible, I don't watch 'em; I wait outside till they're finished and those Orange ads are on. I've already decided, either by genre or personnel (or critical reception), what I'm going to watch. If I were in charge of things, it would be The Law that trailers could only be a maximum of one minute long and could not show anything from the last hour of the film. I'm more bothered by spoilers than misrepresentation.

  • Comment number 68.

    Despite how much trailers have proven to misrepresentative and wall-to-wall ridden with spoilers, I've somehow never gotten out of the habit of watching them, whenever I hear or read about a movie I find interesting I go on youtube and look at the trailer.
    The trailers I like the most are those that don't show little or no footage from the movie at all, such as the trailers for Citizen Kane and Psycho, and also the teaser for Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days.

  • Comment number 69.

    Inglourious Bedsteads takes the biscuit for me - the trailer really pushed the 'Dirty Dozen' angle, suggesting that the film would be, well, almost anything other than what it was - a bloated ocean of dialogue that drowned out pretty much everything else. I'm not saying there weren't things of merit in there, but thanks to the trailer I wasn't in the right mood to swallow them. So to speak.

  • Comment number 70.

    This topic alone could fill a volume.

    One movie that isn't out yet that seems to fit the bill is the new Clive Owen film The Boys Are Back. The trailer is horrific, but all of the early reviews pretty much say "it isn't as bad as it looks."

    In Bruges was advertised as a shoot-em-up dark comedy.

    Adventureland was put up as another Superbad type movie, even though it had real heart.

    Bridge to Terebithia was more than the trailer's CGI of a magical forest.

    Pretty much any movie that mixes a genre, ie horror with comedy etc, romance with action...

  • Comment number 71.

    The earliest film I remember spoiled by a trailer was Total Recall. It was pitched as the most spectacular sci-fi film at the time. They virtually threw all the big effects in the trailer. The film felt like deja vu. Mind you, I still go into hysterics at the eyeballs on stalks scene when I watch it again.

    It's a shame the Blair Witch trailer didn't tell you how boring the film would be. Only the last scene saved it.

    And another before films. Just before Quantum of Solace they showed load ad with clips of the movie in it. Including some from the car chase at the start. Though the film certain problems with it, all those clips ruined the viewing for me, and I had to wait to see it on dvd to get a proper measure of it. Still clunkily structured.

    PS What drove you to teetering on the edge of a rooftop, Dr K? Have you found 10 worst movies than Bride Wars?

  • Comment number 72.

    The Gran Torino trailer made it look like an action film.

  • Comment number 73.

    Actually for me it was Vanilla Sky!

    What looked like a slick, contemporary thriller about Tom Cruise in a deadly love triangle with Diaz and Cruz ultimately left out the pretentious, tacked on, futuristic, wannabe twist, explanation for simple minds ending!

    I thought, here is the Jerry Maguire team trying something new with their tried and tested leading man Tom Cruise. The car crash looked fantastic and the party scenes with Lee, Cruz, Diaz and Tom looked very interesting. I was hoping for a great soundtrack too given Crowe's background in music.

    What followed was an ugly film epitomized by that mask Cruise wears (which is neither funny, haunting or even scary). Then you have all this sickening Penelope Cruz worship that Cruise is leading. When you find out she is a promising young actress who also dances you want to choke yourself!

    It is basically two hours or so of filmic proof that Cameron Crowe cannot handle this kind of material despite having all the elements in place for a great sexy thriller.

  • Comment number 74.

    For me, it was the trailer for The Orphanage, which I know was a highlight of 2008 for you.
    Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the film, but I was expecting, judging from the trailer, a real scare-a-minute horror movie, perhaps not as deliberately fun and knockabout as Drag Me To Hull, but a real spine-chiller.
    What I got was a superb, creepy, supernatural thriller (with a heart-breaking coda) that delivered no real 'jumps', but instead relied on its pervasively creepy atmosphere rather too many scary goings-on, and reminded me in that respect of The Shining, which I love, but am unsure of your opinion on.
    As it is, I loved The Orphanage, but would still like to see the Spanish-language Drag Me To Hell I'd been looking forward to.

  • Comment number 75.

    The trailer for Existenz made it look like a slick Sci-fi action thriller, a kind of commercial Videodrome. As a long standing Cronenberg fan I would have gone to see the film regardless. Unfortunately the trailer worked in attracting a large audience of "yoofs" who would have been better served by the (then) forthcoming Star Wars TPM or the Matrix. To say they made the screening a misery would be an understatement. I suffered a similar fate when watching A History of Violence, but strangely enough they didn't go for Spider...

  • Comment number 76.

    Most mis-representative trailer must be the one for the new "Sherlock Holmes" film which isn't out yet.

    The trailer makes it seem like it might be worth watching...

    but it's a Guy Ritchie film.

    [Did you think about entitling this blog entry "Trailer Trash?"]

  • Comment number 77.

    For me, I've always taken issue with the trailers for Independence Day and The Fifth Element. Both of which managed to avoid pointing out that the films were actually very silly and full of lame comedy. I went to both expecting straight, serious sci-fi flicks.

  • Comment number 78.

    For me one of the most deceiving trailers was for the Robin Willaims film "Man Of The Year" in which in the trailer makes it look like a Comedy when in fact it was a thriller. It's almost like they looked at the film and realised the film didnt know what it wanted to be and tryed to appeal to a wider audiance by making it look like a comedy. Not once in the trailer did it show that their was any thriller aspects in the film what so ever. Had anyone else seen the trailer and then the film and was suprised and confused by what the film actually was?

  • Comment number 79.

    Dr K,

    I would like to submit the trailer for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:

    This trailer is the perfect example of trailer treachery. I genuinely believe that you'll be hard pushed to find a trailer that trivializes and dumbs down a movie to such an extent. This 2.03 piece of misrepresentation portrays the film as your common or garden Rom Com fodder (albeit with a touch of high concept), rather than the poignant and thought provoking original piece of cinema it movie really is. If it wasn't for the fact that I saw Charlie Kauffman's name in the credits I would have avoided this gem at the cinema. And on DVD. And on TV.

    One could also argue that Focus Features could be the actual ground zero and subsequently responsible for the current You Tube phenomena of recutting trailers; The Shining trailer reedited to make it look like a Rom Com been a notable example.

    And if I have to hear Mr. Blue Sky in another trailer there will be blood!

  • Comment number 80.

    The village and lady in the water were totally misleading.

  • Comment number 81.

    I was really disappointed about the movie
    Intolerable Cruelty
    The trailer was really funny, but that wa the funny part of the whole movie, the movie in total was really disappointing, I watched it with my uncle in a cinema (it was the only time I chose the film) and I felt really bad after watching it with my uncle, because I chose such a bad movie.
    Another one was:
    Pirates of the Carribbean
    I thought this was a horror movie and so I didn't go to see it. In school everyone said it was a great movie, but I was too scared to watch it. Because I normally don't watch horror movies. Weeks after the DVD release I watched it after being at the cemetery, so I had the opportunity to leave the room at any moment it became too scary. Well surprise, surprise, it was a really funny movie and my fear was arbitrary. Now it's one of my favourites and I regret not having seen it in the cinema.

  • Comment number 82.

    Apologies to Mr. Charlie Kaufman for the misspelling of you surname. Cursed spellchecker!

  • Comment number 83.

    I can think of a couple:

    Serenity. Classic example of a trailer that gathers together lots of similar moments, like a squirrel collecting acorns, and plays them one after another. In this case, it was all the funny one-liners, which are nice, but Serenity is a lot more than just a goofy Spaceballs spin-off.

    And also, does anyone remember the trailer for The Exorcism of Emily Rose? It made it look really exciting, REALLY demonic and frightening. While in fact, although those bits were in there, the majority of the film was a slightly dry, court-room drama type affair. A little bit of a let-down at the time (but at least they made Requiem afterwards).

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm actually a big fan of trailers, but I think the problem is that the competition between movies is so fierce that they have to put all the best scenes in the trailer just to make the film look appealing. You can trace this back to Independence Day really, and ever since, trailer editors have tried to top one another, at risk to the film themselves.

    The trailers for Surrogates takes spoiling to whole new level by just plain showing the whole movie:

  • Comment number 85.

    The trailer for The Deer Hunter is the worst I've ever seen. Ironic that the film will always be at number 6 in my top 10 favourite movies of all time!

    More recently, the one for the completely overrated Slumdog Millionaire.

  • Comment number 86.

    The most obvious example i can think of is The Phantom Menace. After seeing the trailer, I thought the movie was going to be GOOD!

  • Comment number 87.

    'in bruges' again like everyone completely put off by the trailer and ignored people who told me the film was great-watched it loved it

    1970's horror films trailers such as cannibal holocaust are about five minutes long and show violence and nudity in them

    there's a ten minute trailer of the new version of 'the prisoner'

    those recut trailers featuring the brokeback mountain music and insinuating romance between the two male leads are great especially the 'he-man' one

  • Comment number 88.

    As a rule I generally don't pay much heed to trailers, but one that stuck in my mind was for The Mothman Prophecies - the trailer made it seem like a strange, mysterious thriller about dark threatening angel-like figures. They left out all the bits about how tedious and cliched the whole thing was.

  • Comment number 89.

    Watch the documentary about The Mothman on the dvd, it's sooooooooooo funny....
    "We though it came from outer space or something".

  • Comment number 90.

    Two trailers spring instantly to mind. First of all, Fight Club. It made it seem like the actual Fight Club was the central focus of the movie. Anyone who has seen the movie, however, knows that an awful lot more happens that that. It's not focussed on a small group of people in a small amateur boxing club at all. It's strange, considering the content of the actual movie, that they thought a bunch of sweaty men beating each other up would appeal.

    The other trailer is the film "A Beautiful Mind" where the trailer suggested that it was a horrifically mushy chick flick. The line added into the trailer which cannot be found in the actual movie has Russell Crowe saying "it may be a great thing to have a beautiful mind, but greater still to possess a beautiful heart" *throws up*. The very idea that "A Beautiful Minds" was a biopic about one of the great minds in the field of economics is never mentioned.

  • Comment number 91.

    In response to TheWhitePaperPlate I had exactly the opposite experience. For me, the Intolerable Cruelty trailer felt like a typical chick flick and, not realising that it was a Coen Brothers movie, I was disinclined to watch it. The trailer seemed devoid of any real humour.

    When I later came to watch it I was quite shocked to find myself in hysterics for most of the movie. There is some quite subtle humour alongside the slapstick and the part where the priest at the wedding is singing "I wish I were a kellogs cornflake" is a typical example of the Coen Brothers' trademark surrealism. Awesome! :)

  • Comment number 92.

    In response to arthurjcrabtree I fail to see what is wrong with that trailer for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. After all, what a trailers supposed to do other than simplify the movie they are representing. The trailer doesn't misrepresent the movie and it doesn't reveal too much of the plot. What more do you want? Sure, it's not a work of art, but that's what the actual movie is for...

  • Comment number 93.

    The trailer for Il Postino completely misrepresented it, especially the deep voiced American narrator.

  • Comment number 94.

    I believe Universal's marketing for Hulk was a misrepresentation of the actual film.

    They marketed the film as a typical summer blockbuster, focussing heavily on the action sequences (including the Hulk-throwing-the-tank money shot) in an attempt to appeal to a large audience, clearly hoping to achieve the success that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man did the previous year.

    Unfortunately, the film was very different from the trailer, focussing on the psychological aspects of the character, rather than just the mindless action that audiences were expecting from the film.

  • Comment number 95.

    The trailer to 'Mortal Kombat: Annihilation' didn't necessarily sucker me in but it did get my hopes up for a somewhat watchable film. How wrong was I? It shows nothing but second long clips of people fighting without giving us a glimpse of the terrible acting, dialogue and effects that plague it.

  • Comment number 96.

    You gotta give Mortal Kombat: Annihilation credit for what is perhaps the best tagline ever: Destroy Your Expectations!

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't know about bad trailers, but the one I saw for Transformers 2 was Oscar worthy compared to what I was put through when forced to watch the actual movie by my son.

  • Comment number 98.

    I haven't seen too many trailers, but I did come across a most unrepresentative one of Edward Scissorhands. It is one of my favorite Tim Burton films, and I truly think it's a pristine work of art, touching and I dare say, incisive. But in the trailer they make it sound like just some quirky -and cookie!- comedy.

    Here's the link:

  • Comment number 99.

    District 9 is the only movie I've seen where I thought I had been flat-out lied to by the advertising. I thought this film would be entirely from the perspective of the diagetic cameras (ie Blair Witch, Cloverfield). I got that for the first twenty-something minutes, but after that it suddenly switched to your usual normal narrative. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I felt like I had been cheated by the marketing of this film.

  • Comment number 100.

    I thought the trailer for Deathproof made it look like a fun film to watch on a friday night when there's nothing else to do but it turned out to be one of the most annoying and boring excuse for a movie i have seen in a long time...


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