Their purpose is to sell you the movie, not to spoil it! So why do movie trailers give away so much of the plot?
The Trailer Isn’t for You
When the likes of Warner Bros want to promote their latest movie why is the trailer filled with spoilers? Well it isn’t aimed at the casual geeks and nerds who can spot an easter egg a mile away. Movie trailers are for the casual dudebros who have never heard of Wonder Woman.
Here is a trailer for Creed. The casual movie buff would hear the name and think, “Oh, it must be about Apollo Creed’s son”. Those people have pretty much been sold on the movie.
But then there are the other people haven’t watched Rocky because “it’s an old movie”. Or even worse, have never heard of Rocky! The trailer is for those exact people! The studios want to sell the movie to the people who didn’t know they wanted to watch it. By giving away the plot, the normie’ wants to know how the story plays out.
Everyone loves a tease
I love teaser trailers: they’re short, fast, and give you a feel for the movie without getting into the plot. Time and time again I’ve been sold a movie solely on the teaser. One of my favourite all time teaser trailers is the one for Cloverfield back in 2008.
The teaser trailer tends to be for those in the know. The movie enthusiasts who deek you out in the cinema when you chew your popcorn too loudly. I don’t need to know what happens in Avengers 4. I just wanted to see that money shot of everyone together and the release date.
Along for the ride
The movie is about the journey, but the trailer is about the destination. Often times, the feature length trailer does amazingly well overseas, sometimes being a whole 3 minutes long!
Resident Evil is a perfect example of this. They love it in Japan and is probably why they made so many of them.
Spoiler Success Story
Like I said before, the movie is about the journey. Happy Death Day is a perfect example of a spoiler trailer that sold me a ticket. Groundhog Day meets 90’s Slasher Horror Thriller, what’s not to like? I remember watching the movie and picking up on the scenes I saw in the trailer. Then trying to piece things together like the protagonist. Only to be shocked and surprised by how the movie moved on from that point.
The Wrath of the mis-sold a movie
So there are pros and cons to this trailer debate. But what about when the movie you were sold isn’t the movie you are watching?
This brings me to Wrath of the Titans which was released in March of 2012. The trailer is set to Marilyn Manson’s incantation of Sweet Dreams over heavy guitar riffs. The visuals depict Perseus on this relentless journey. Show stopping action and jaw dropping visuals. The movie however was limp and taught me a valuable lesson. Never trust the trailer.
All credit goes to the marketing team for pulling off such an incredible heist! But looking back at this trailer, the overall tone of the movie did not change. For example Suicide Squad’s 1st and 2nd trailer. Plus they didn’t bait n switch us like Rogue One. Unfortunately all the cool scenes from the trailer weren’t even in that movie. At least Avengers Infinity Wars’ hulk / hulkbuster switch up was justified by protecting us from spoilers
Since the Wrath of the Titans, I only watch certain movie trailers once by choice. The more you watch the trailers the more you notice. Throughout the past 10 years of going to the cinema, I often go into the movie unaware of the overall plot. Going in blind, if you will. I enjoy doing this as you see the movie as the writers intended and not sold to you by the marketing team.
Ok, so are trailers really spoiling movies?
Yes and they will continue to do so. Will I stop watching them? Depends on when, not if. When we closer to the release of a movie, we are going to get a spoiler filled trailers. Ultimately the choice is yours, either you avoid the spoilers or risk it and discover your next trip to the cinema.