Trailers. Love em’ or hate em, in 2019 they are a very important part of marketing a film. However, recently I’ve stopped - or at least tried to stop - watching film trailers altogether and I think it’s something more people should do. Here’s why...
Time and time again trailers have been ruining films not only for me but for many others. There are tons of cases where trailers basically just summarise the film that they are marketing in only two to three minutes. Recent examples include the second ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ trailer, which basically details the whole film scene by scene, leaving nothing for the audience to find out if they did decide to watch it.
An even worse offender would be the ‘Batman Vs. Superman’ trailer spoiling the reveal of Lex Luthor using Zod's corpse to create Doomsday, basically revealing that they would team up to fight Doomsday. However, the worst of the lot in my humble opinion is the trailer for the horror Netflix film Velvet Buzzsaw. The central issue with the trailer is that it literally shows every single death in the film except for one. It gives away almost every scare, horror sequence and character death. Fundamentally, the reason why these trailers really annoy me is because they often squanders any excitement I have for a film. While both BvS and Velvet Buzzsaw are pretty awful films, the big surprises would have been much better if I didn’t know they were going to happen. Not only is this an insult to people who are excited to see the film but also an insult to filmmakers that should want to give audiences the best possible cinematic experience.
Unless you are seeing the trailer for a film is super low budget like Primer or Thunder Road it’s very likely that the director had a big say in the trailer you are watching. This means that the trailer you end up seeing probably reveals information that main creative forces don’t want you to see. In addition to this, it's often studio marketing teams that decide what will go into trailers and the big issue with this is that it oftentimes a bad trailer for a film can put off a large amount of people from seeing the film or it ruins the thing that makes the film different. For example, it's clear that in the 2012 film Cabin in the Woods all the behind-the-scenes aspects were meant to be revealed in the film and the film only, However, the trailer reveals all and, as a result, basically spoils what was unique about the film in the first place.
In my eyes, a good trailer tells you as little as possible about the film you are going to watch. It should give you some information about what the film is about, the themes and atmosphere and nothing more. A great example of this would be the Avengers Endgame trailer. A trailer in the perfect form in that it doesn't show us any of the big fight scenes or time travel or any of the important set pieces.
Nowadays trailers are designed to not only sell tickets but to get a lot of buzz on social media, so they pack in as much as possible including the best moments so more discussion spreads about the film even if it means ruining the experience in cinemas and going against the wishes of the filmmakers. In my experience, knowing as little as possible as what you are going to watch is always the best experience as everything that you then see, learn and experience is all new information and it makes for a much more rewarding experience and it allows you to get a better understanding of what a film does well and where it fails. Let’s hope the film trailer industry catches on to this quickly, but if I were you, in this world of hype and ultra competitiveness, I wouldn't hold my breath.