Trailer Fatigue

When I was a young lad, there was an indie picture that I was obnoxiously excited about, 20th Century Fox’s X2: X-Men United. In the weeks leading towards May 02, 2003, I would scour the Internet for as much footage, interviews, articles and information I could find. Everything I discovered was released by the studio to spawn hype. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I saw over thirty minutes of footage before taking a seat in the theater. 30+ minutes of footage…for a movie with a total run time of 133, including credits. I saw 25% of the film, before seeing the film. The entire experience was ultimately ruined. My excitement ended up being a deterrent from my enjoyment. I thoroughly outsmarted myself. Since then I have learned a lesson about how much pre-screening media I want to consume, but unfortunately the marketing machine cannot be reprogrammed.

News sites are mechanized to auto-blast any piece of data available about upcoming releases. This information should be available to fans that wish to partake but be less prevalent to everyone. When the landing page says, “Samuel Jackson’s shocking cameo as Nick Fury in Iron Man”…the surprise is kind of ruined. I understand that this increases click-through and satisfies fans who need to know everything prior to the screening…but I don’t. The obvious solution is to no longer visit the Internet, but it isn’t a realistic option. As an alternative, I would prefer sites to gate their content. There is a world of difference between the previous example and “Guess who has a cameo in Iron Man?” As stewards of information, sites have a right to provide reports to those who crave them, but also a responsibility to protect visitors who are engaging with their articles for different reasons.

At what point do facts, figures and captions related to a picture distract from the movie-magic? When an anticipated blockbuster is filming, fans can determine every facet of the movie before release. There were reports coming out of The Dark Knight Rises about every outfit Bane has, the color of the Tumbler, usage of fake snow, number of extras and what dental floss Bruce used. This micro-level of detail can help fans feel in-the-know, but it can sidetrack a screening experience. As a child watching Jurassic Park, when a character was about to perish, I wasn’t worried because the trailer revealed they had additional scenes ahead

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) requested that distributers limit the trailer length to two minutes. This seems like a reasonable ask. Two minutes of clipped footage is enough time to introduce the players, set the tone and have viewers decide if the full-length feature is worth their time. Trailers should be used to generate buzz and tease a film’s premise. A great trailer will leave a fan wanting more and be interested in seeing what happens next, not be a miniature movie (looking at you Sam Rami’s Spider-Man 2).

My ideal interaction with a movie before viewing is to know that it is coming out, see a kick-ass trailer and talk to my friends about how hyped we are. I don’t need to know the toy line that provides context clues, the 24 variant magazine covers or how many drafts the script went through. In the information age, though, people consume each megabyte available with such ferocity that sites reporting facts will publish gossip just to continue driving the conversation and stay ahead of competition. The rumor mill is a powerful tool to create content even when nothing is available. This can work for a marketing department as the film remains in the mind share of the public but it can dissuade a potential movie-goer from attending as they are tired of hearing about the same flick ad nausea.

We have to decide between the immediate gratification of knowing everything possible or leaving ourselves open to seeing the movie fresh. In a society where “spoiler warning” is thrown around constantly, it is surprising to see an abundance of spoiler landmines placed by the studios themselves. Try to avoid these information explosions if able, and watch a movie as the director and crew intended; from beginning to end (unless it’s Tarantino) without preconceived notions or anticipation of a certain scene. Trust me; it’s better to watch an original movie instead of an extended cut of the 30+ minute flick you already pieced together.


Level Up, Friends!