Why You Should NEVER Watch Movie Trailers
Alright, we’ve all been guilty of this plenty of times. Wishing you hadn’t looked at a trailer for the latest big tentpole film because it ended up spoiling the entire god damn movie. This happens more often than not, except for a few directors and studios that care about wanting their audiences to be surprised (Lucasfilm, Blumhouse). Unfortunately 90% of the time a movie trailer will show glimpses of the film’s best scenes, unapologetic spoilers, and even show the last shot of the film!
Trailers have been spoiling movies for decades, more so as millennial audiences have reached the YouTube and social media mecca that is present day. Trailers were first presented to American cinema in 1913 and were called “an entirely new and unique stunt.”
Fast-forward to 104 years later, and the Spider-Man Homecoming trailer gives away the entire three-act structure of one of the most anticipated films of 2017. I have no one to blame but myself because this happens to me time and time again. I see the latest trailer pop up on my YouTube newsfeed, and my immediate reaction is “I need to watch this right now!” Once the trailer ends, a heap of excitement waves over my body, the anticipation making my heart pound like the time I lost my virginity.
That was a bit too far…
In all seriousness, it was that Spider-Man trailer that was the last straw for me. I went from excited fanboy to annoyed fanboy in the span of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. It’s like eating a piece of cake after a four-course dinner. It tastes delicious upon the first bite, but will soon leave a pit of regret in your stomach. Well, I have come here to send a message, to all of you fans, moviegoers and cinephiles alike. We need to continue to support seeing our favorite movies on the big-screen, but we also need to put an end to our movie trailer fandom.
Now in 2017, we not only have an average of 3 (one teaser and two trailers) previews for a film, notably big budget ones, we also have teases for a teaser, and trailer release dates. When did this start happening? Don’t get me wrong, I understand fully the need to market a film successfully, it’s essential in the post-production process. However, all of these marketing teams need to know that us film fans thrive off the “less is more” theory.
Remember when that first initial teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped? Arguably the most anticipated film of all time had a teaser that was one minute and 30 seconds long, with only seven clips of scenes to show. Now, imagine if that was the one and only glimpse into the latest Star Wars film? How many of you would still see it? I guess pretty much everyone who saw it anyways, making a worldwide total gross profit of $1.94 billion dollars.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. The “Chewie, we’re home,” moment at the end of the second teaser made all of us cry for months on end. It’s a beautiful moment, one that admittedly would’ve been euphoric if it was first seen by audiences for the first time in the cinema. To be fair, that second teaser didn’t give away much of the film’s plot, but wouldn’t it have been amazing for that scene to be a surprise?
Social media adds a lot of fuel to the movie trailer spoiler renaissance. Screenshots of trailers are posted everywhere on Twitter, Facebook, and any other platform you can think of, giving away parts of the trailer those of us wanted to ignore. Headlines of online publications with spoilers written all over them are yet another culprit to these actions. A simple scroll through Twitter reveals that “Doomsday” will be in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. What ever happened to the element of surprise? Do we as fans need to separate ourselves from the outside world indefinitely so we can go into a film blind and enjoy it properly?
Sadly, yes. As a movie journalist, social media is a requirement for the job, which also gave me years of insight that brought me to the place I currently stand. Let’s take the marketing for Deadpool as a perfect example of how to market a film the right way. Leading up to the movie’s release, we were treated to a viral marketing campaign that was simple scenes and promotional art that showcased the character simply being himself. Little videos of footage that weren’t in the final film were going around the internet like hot-cakes, making old fans and new increasingly excited for the movie to come out. Deadpool ended up making $363,024,263 in the US alone, with only a $58,000,000 budget to work with. Studios should take note of this and learn to market smarter, not harder.
When a trailer shows certain scenes, they become embedded in our subconscious, making us wait for the entire film for those scenes to happen. Take the trailer for The Avengers for example. When Iron Man sacrifices himself to bring the missile into space and then falls back to earth unconscious and broken, you knew he was going to be saved by The Hulk from the trailers, eliminating all suspense and drama from the scene. It’s a shame because the scene is executed beautifully, and if that scene were left out of the trailer, it would’ve made for one hell of a crowd-pleasing moment.
Studios don’t need to be spoiling scenes like this in a big tentpole film such as The Avengers. You could show the logo for the movie and audiences would be running out to see it opening night. You have your audience people, don’t piss them off with spoilers. Even Indie films have gone down this road as of late. I haven’t watched the trailer for Colossal thankfully due to my friend warning me that it spoils the entire film. The buzz around it has been overwhelmingly positive, and I can’t wait to see the movie in its entirety with no footage or plot elements to cloud my judgment.
What I’m trying to say here is, technology has become so innovative, constant and in your face that it makes it almost impossible to walk into a film blind. If you are like me and have an addiction to watching trailers, try and start to ween yourself off of them. Personally, I feel a safe rule of thumb would be to just watch the first teaser for the film you are anticipating. Teasers do a good job of giving you snippets of footage, the tone, and character personalities without giving away plot-points. It’s a hard habit to kick, and I have to hold myself back from watching certain ones that cause real pain inside my body. However, when you step into that theater with less knowledge, you will be thanking yourself for waiting.