I used to love trailers. I remember around 4-5 years ago when I got my first laptop, MacBook Pro, I hooked it up to our TV. My brother and I would go on Apple trailers and watch all the trailers they had, getting excited for movies that intrigued us. That excitement was one of my utmost enjoyment.
I went to the Japanese Film Festival last year with my mates. I went in only knowing that I am going to watch a film entitled ‘Confessions’, about an hour before the film began at 9:00pm. My god it was the most incredible cinematic experience I have ever had. I knew nothing about the film, not even the log line. I was so blown away by the film that I could not keep thinking about it for months. I went on YouTube and watched all its trailer and teasers over and over again. I read lots of reviews about it, just so I could relive that experience in my head again. After all that, I started questioning. What if I read the reviews before I walked in the cinema? I suppose it is hard talk about a film without spoiling it (Speaking of which, don’t read up on Confessions, especially because a few reviewers gave the plot line, which is a spoiler in itself, away.). What if I watched the trailer before watching the film? Trailers are meant to get me all excited about the film, right? Would I still have that amazing cinematic experience? I am sure it would still be a great film, but it would drastically reduce the thrill of the ride by 75%. That is the way I want everyone to watch this film, not knowing what it is about. Although I suppose the hype is already a spoiler, at least I didn’t give away the storyline. Okay, maybe that is just one example, but lately I am noticing this more and more.
When I first watched the trailer of Never Let Me Go, the version I watched in the cinema actually did not give away what the school’s purpose was. I was intrigued and watched the movie, but when I went on the Internet afterwards to watch more trailers, one version of the trailer gave the purpose of the school away, and another version gave the entire film away, the plot line and even the ending and the one of the most important lines in the film that was supposed to be the twist. What was the maker of the trailer thinking? When I saw that version of the trailer, I breathed a sigh of relief, but shocked and the same time. “I don’t have to watch that movie again, I’ll just watch this trailer.”, I thought to myself. The trailer gave so much away that there was no purpose of watching the film at all.
THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS OF MEGAMIND
The other day, I was having lunch with my brother and I mentioned Megamind. I told him that I was very glad that Dreamworks finally stepped up their game and made an amazing and enjoyable animated movie. My brother said he was not as impressed, which I find odd. There is a lot of reason to like Megamind, considering that he is well aware of Dreamwork’s history of animations. He explained it could be because he watched it on the plane and the fatigue might have put him off the movie mood, or it could be because he did not like the facial design of the female character. He also said that it could have been because the acting he did when he said “Copper drains my power” was too fake. I don’t think that was the reason because during that scene I thought the acting was part of the joke, poking fun out of the cheesiness in the typical superhero vs villain moments. I explained that I loved the jokes and how the twist of Metroman turning out to be alive all along amazed me. He responded, “Eh, I saw that coming, mostly because I saw him with a beard in the trailer. I was expecting for him to make a come back.” There it is. The trailer ruined that layer of the story which made the film outstanding.
Why would films do this to themselves? Well, marketing, of course. The purpose of trailers is to make the movie look interesting and exciting, often using their ‘best’ punch line, which also ruins it. The problem is they try too hard. Most trailers use up all the most exciting elements to get people to watch the movie at least once. As a result, by the time the audience watch the movie, all they are really enjoying are the action sequences and guessing which character’s gonna die. Of course there are exceptions. I remember when American Pie 2′s trailer came out and they specifically stated in the trailer that they are not using the best jokes in it. Brilliant. Movie is like a battle. The best strategy is the element of surprise. The best joke, lines, plot twist are the ones that come by surprise, shock the viewers and making the movie memorable and praised as amazing. Great examples would be Million Dollar Baby and Changeling (movies that I can think of from the top of my head). But if you showed off your secret weapons to everyone before you went into battle, your enemies would anticipate it. If you knew that there’s going to be a surprise at your party, it would be bland. If you… Okay, I suppose I made my point.
Yes, not all trailers give their best bits or spoilers away but when it happens, it’s something that cannot be unseen. Well, there will always be studios who want put together trailers just for the sole purpose of selling the movie, without any consideration of how the audience will experience the movie itself. My solution? I guess I will just have to turn up to the movies 10 – 15 minutes late, so I don’t see any trailers.