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Death Of The Movie Trailer - Is Marketing Killing Cinema?


Movie marketing is in a bit of a flux at the minute. With advances in social media and technology happening faster than studios can keep up with, marketing teams are under increasing pressure to get their product out there to as many people as they can, in order to maximise that all important opening weekend box office.

I deliberately chose the word product because to understand the marketing, you have to understand that first and foremost the studios are there to make money. The sad truth is that as long as the numbers are headed in the right direction, your average movie exec or agent couldn't really give a shit how much you enjoyed your experience at the cinema. In a world where money talks, selling a movie before it yet opens is crucial to a film's profit margin.

What does all of this mean for you, the movie fan? It means that increasingly you're seeing big money shots and plot twists in the marketing before you ever sit your ass down in the cinema. Naturally, trailers are the biggest bone of contention here.

As someone who writes about film because I have a passion for it, part of my job is to bring you all of the day's movie news. More and more it includes viral marketing for a film and while some of it is pretty cool, most of it gives away too much for my liking and trailers are the worst offenders. The average movie fan can avoid clicking links to stuff they know might ruin something they're looking forward to, but if you frequent a cinema on a regular basis, the fact is you're going to see a lot of trailers for impending releases.

It used to be something I enjoyed, because it used to be something that built expectation. Nowadays I find myself dreading them because of how much they reveal, even sometimes going so far as to show stuff that gets cut from the movie, so you're left wondering "where the hell was that cool shot from the trailer", case in point below.

That scene of Brody being lit up by about 15 Predator sights? Doesn't happen in the film. I know, because I was one of the 12 people who bothered to pay to see it.

Here's another offender. In the opening minute of this trailer there's a 30 second fireside chat that Banner never has with another character and a tease of the Hulk in Antartica, something that never happens in the movie... and that's before we even get into the main bad guy being openly revealed, taking any semblance of intrigue from the finished movie

While its bad enough that some scenes are left in trailers clearly to hype up the movie, and then for whatever reason get cut, what's a hell of a lot worse is some of the stuff that is included in the final film these days, and gets spoiled by the marketing.

As recently as an hour ago I watched a trailer for a big budget release that's due out in a few weeks. The trailer was awesome in the sense that there were loads of gadgets and action sequences that looked fucking spectacular. But then, I have to wonder how I'll feel watching it on the big screen with no surprises left, and having glimpsed extended footage of what will undoubtedly be the biggest and best action from the movie. Ultimately, the film could feel like an anticlimax unless by some miracle the studio have held a few surprises back.

Some great movies over the past decade or so have been ruined by their trailers. Remember Cast Away? Of course you do, it's one of Tom Hanks' finest roles. What you probably didn't need to know before you saw it was that he makes it off the island. That little spoiler was in the trailer. Seen Warrior? A great sports drama starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as rival MMA fighters, competing for vastly different reasons. The trailer revealed not only that that they end up in the climactic fight pitted against each other, but that the pair are brothers, something which was completely unnecessary in selling the film.

More recently there's been some horrendous marketing for Arnie's return to his biggest franchise; Terminator Genysis. The trailer for the film is so full of money shots, plot twists and a HUGE reveal of the fate of one of the characters it may as well be a two minute summary of the movie for anyone looking to save themselves the price of the ticket. 

It didn't always used to be this way. Look at Jurassic World, a movie whose marketing has saturated social media, revealing some pretty major plot points and money shots along the way.

From that, we know what a lot of the dinosaurs look like. We know one escapes and wreaks havoc on the park. We know it recruits other dinosaurs on it's rampage. We know what several of the action scenes will be. We know the new dino kills for sport, is genetically modified and highly intelligent. We know Chris Pratt managed to train Velociraptors and we know he will recruit them to hunt the rogue dinosaur.

Now look at the trailer for the original Jurassic Park.

We know that there's a park where a wealthy man has created dinosaurs. We know something goes wrong and they escape into the park. We don't know which ones are the most lethal and the main focus of the story. We don't know how they escaped, what the plan is to get things under control or what any of the big set pieces will really look like. We don't see one single proper look at a dinosaur.

Now I don't know about you, but I was blown away by that movie. I can still remember the first time you see the field of Brachiosaurus, the look of wonder on first Sam Neil's face, then Laura Dern's and that marvellous, sweeping John Williams score as Richard Attenborough announces " Jurassic Park". I still get goosebumps at that sequence, because of how amazing it was to see it on the big screen, the way it was supposed to be seen for the first time. It was a huge moment in an even bigger film and one that was all the more impactful because we, as an audience, had no idea what to expect. To this day that scene perfectly captures the magic of cinema.

If we're to return to the days when movies still have a few surprises in store for the audience then studios have to start putting more care and consideration into their trailers. Audiences deserve to go in to a film and get caught up in the wonder at what they're seeing and hearing. We deserve to get sucked in to a story and taken on a journey, one whose ultimate destination we don't already know; where the twists and turns along the path are hidden from us until we reach them. In an era where everything is instantly exposed and accessible, at your fingertips, all of the time, maybe the curtain needs to be pulled closed just a little bit more, if we're to keep the magic of cinema alive.

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The Movie Bit: Death Of The Movie Trailer - Is Marketing Killing Cinema?
Death Of The Movie Trailer - Is Marketing Killing Cinema?
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