Movie trailer is the greatest selling tool in marketing for Hollywood. Heck even tech start-up companies today are using short trailers to sell their product. Case in point, a start-up company I’m involved with just got done with a short intro/trailer about the product, I saw it and I thought it was awesome, well maybe I’m biased since I’m part of the company and I designed the site. Anyhoo, back to movie trailers, they’re meant to get audiences excited and film bloggers, critics and cinephiles everywhere will talk about it for months before the actual film hits theater.
Think back to last spring when Fox unleashed the trailer for Prometheus, many people got excited and said it’s going to be the greatest sci-fi film ever and so on. Well when it finally hit theaters, those same people were disappointed and blame Fox for duping them into thinking the film was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well that’s their goal, to dupe you into theaters and pay to see the film, they don’t care if you like or not, they already got your money. Heck I got duped into seeing two bad films because their trailer looked great, the remake of Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy.
Ruth’s note: Now, just as I was prepping this article, another trailer for Pacific Rim came out. I like Idris Elba but I thought the trailer is terrible, and Ted aptly called it ‘Transformers meets Godzilla’ ahah. We’ll see if this would end up in the ‘Bad trailers, Good Movies’ category.
Once in a while though studios tend to release some not so great trailers but the actual films were quite good. Anyway, here are some good examples of what I’m talking about:
Great trailers, bad films
Mission: Impossible 2
First off I would like to confess that I enjoyed this film but I also have to admit that it’s a lousy film. The trailer made it look like it’s going to be a non-stop thrill ride but most of the action scenes didn’t happen until the last 40 minutes of the movie. I like the concept of IMF team taking on the evil pharmaceutical company and a rouge agent but the love triangle between the hero, villain and heroine just didn’t work and it’s way too cheesy. But I love the motorcycle, cars and helicopter chase near the end and Anthony Hopkins delivered the best line in the film: “It’s not mission difficult Mr. Hunt, it’s mission impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”
Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace
Nothing much to say here since most of us have seen the film and we’re pretty much in agreement that the film sucks. But the trailer was pretty great, hearing that famous theme music by John Williams, seeing light sabers and space ships just got everyone excited. Unfortunately the actual film was filled with bad dialogues and wooden acting. But the light sabers battle between Darth Maul, Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn was pretty great.
Fun fact, the trailer played in front of Meet Joe Black and a lot of Star Wars fanatics paid just to see this trailer. I took my then girlfriend to see Meet Joe Black and I remember a few people left the theater after EP1 trailer finished. Just FYI young readers, this was few years before internet trailers became the norm, people would actually paid tickets just to see trailers, I know it’s stupid and I’ve never done it myself but that was the only way to see trailers of big films back then.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
After the awful X-Men: Last Stand, Fox was hoping this film will reboot the franchise in the way that Batman Begins did for Batman. With Hugh Jackman back as Wolverine and a respectable director behind the camera, all of X-Men fans expected greatness. Of course our excitement jumped to new heights when a trailer debuted a few months before its release. The trailer made it look like the film is going to be a gritty take on the popular character, I must’ve watched it like 10 times when it debuted.
Unfortunately when the film finally opens, it was an incoherent mess; there were rumors that Fox didn’t like the dark tone of the film and demanded director (Gavin Hood) to make changes. Whatever happened behind the scenes really destroyed what could have been a great film about Wolverine’s origin.
The World Is Not Enough
The last Bond film of the 20th century looked great and since I’m a Bond fanatic I was stoked to see this film. With the promised of a new great villain and a respected director, many thought this could be an excellent Bond film. Even with the silly casting of Denise Richards as a scientist, I was still convinced this could be a great film and after seeing the trailer, I got super excited.
Well as we all know the actual film was pretty bad, I actually thought the franchise might be over because of this film. Of course I was wrong since it’s a box office hit and it took another awful Bond flick to convince the producers that they need to reboot the franchise.
Bad trailers, great films
With the huge success of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, most people often forget that the first film in the series was a modest success. In fact, this film’s opening weekend was a measly $47 mil. When Warner Bros. announced they were going to reboot the franchise, I was super excited because Batman is my favorite comic book superhero and I needed to get the bad memory of Batman & Robin out of my mind. With a young and upcoming director Chris Nolan behind the camera and a new Bruce Wayne/Batman, all Batman fans everywhere were super excited.
Unfortunately when the trailer came out, I was very disappointed. I thought it looked clunky and wasn’t well put together. The pacing was a bit off, too much of the plot were revealed and it just didn’t flow well. Compare that to The Dark Knight’s and The Dark Knight Rises’ trailer, Begins’ trailer was quite weak in my opinion.
The Bourne Supremacy
In my opinion this film is the best of the franchise but when I saw the trailer, I thought it looked awful. Just like Batman Begins’ trailer, it wasn’t well-edited, very clunky and sort of gave away too much of the plot. Again fortunately the actual film was great.
Most trailers of older films tends to give away too much of the story and this one is no different. Seriously this trailer is over 3 minutes long! If I was old enough around the time this film came out, I might’ve skip seeing it in theater. I thought the final cut trailer that came out back in 2007 was much better, see them for yourself.
Final cut trailer
– Post by Ted S.
So those are some examples and I know there are tons of other great trailers, bad films and bad trailers, good films out there. Feel free to share your own list of trailers in the comments section.
56 thoughts on “Musings on the case of Great trailers, bad films & Bad trailers, great films”
I remember seeing the trailers for The Grey and End of Watch for the first time and my initial thoughts were “meh”. But then I actually saw the actual movies and pretty much loved them.
Haven’t seen either one of those yet. The End of Watch one was pretty intense though.
That’s what I heard about those two films, I didn’t care for their trailers either but I might give those a rent.
I think ‘Upside Down’ belongs in the great trailer, bad film category. I was so excited to see this movie and I was so let down. Great read!
Bummer!! The trailer was indeed awesome, made me want to see it so bad. Too bad it didn’t live up to your expectations. Btw, is that out on Blu-ray now?
Oh the trailer is incredible, so are the special effects. No it’s not on Blu-ray yet but it will look great in that format.
Well, I’ll still give it a look, I really like the premise (and Jim Sturgess) 🙂
I’ve never heard of Upside Down, I’ll watch the trailer for it.
Great examples, Ted. Fine article.
Thanks Michael, I wanted to list more great trailers, bad films but I got too lazy and didn’t want to keep writing, ha ha.
Ruth, Ted – I think you underestimate just how many of us would LOVE to see Transformers vs Godzilla. That sounds AWESOME to me 😀
As does Pacific Rim.
Of course, your broader point is well taken, obviously expectations dont always match the final product. Its sad. But if it did, we wouldnt have any surprises or disappointments, would we?
Ahah, yeah I underestimate how many people love Michael Bay’s style 😀
Ha ha, I think Ruth and I are in the minority since there seems to be a lot of excitement around Pacific Rim. Of course many of them are Del Toro’s fan boys/girls, I think he’s a good director but I prefer his earlier work. The Devil’s Backbone is one of his best films yet not many people have seen it.
Great article with interesting topic. Thanks! Ingrid
Thanks for stopping by Ingrid.
In addition to having a great trailer, Prometheus also had the greatest viral marketing campaign I have ever seen. If only they had spent as much time on script writing. cool topic Ted.
Ahah, so true isn’t it? The plot holes are hilarious, but they sure know how to market the darn thing!
Yeah their marketing team did a tremendous job promoting the film, I thought it was a good flick but I didn’t have high expectations for it like some people did.
As you know Ruth I don’t watch trailers, so I can never be disappointed by expectations 😉
I commend you for not watching them, Nostra. I know I couldn’t resist 🙂
Great trailer, bad movie = Snow White & The Huntsman. Complete and utter let down.
Totally agree Asrap. Disappointing on all fronts, but the trailer was quite exciting.
Although I agree that Prometheus wasn’t as good as the trailer led us to believe, I still think it’s better than most people give it credit for.
Yeah I really enjoyed Prometheus but I didn’t have high expectations for it, it’s basically another Alien film even though they kept saying it doesn’t have anything to do with the Alien franchise. It’s definitely better than all of those Alien vs. Predators films and the fourth Alien.
Awesome post! I actually loved Prometheus and I must have seen the trailers for it at least 50 times.
My dream job would be to make trailers – they are so awesome and I love watching them. My absolute favorites are the international trailer for Black Swan and the trailer for The Two Towers.
What makes trailers awesome for me is usually the choice of music – it gets to the point I’m disappointed when I don’t hear the music from the trailer in the movie – Django used awesome “I’m a man” in second trailer and all I could think of after seeing the film was what a shame it was the song wasn’t in it/
I totally agree about the music, Sati. I think even if the trailer cut was so-so but it has a good music in it i tend to like it more!
You’re dead on about the music. I tracked down the music from The Two Towers trailer because it was so good. It’s dubbed “Requiem for a Tower”. Corner Stone Cues rescored the Kronos Quartet/Clint Mansell piece “Lux Aeterna” from Requiem for a Dream. It was also used in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine trailer with much success.
If you like trailer music check out the outfit Two Steps From Hell. The compose music solely for trailers. Here’s one of my faves by them.” Freedom Fighters” from the Star Trek reboot. Epic.
I LOVE Two steps from Hell! Their music is so epic and really makes the trailers powerful. “Requiem for a Tower” was so brilliant – I also love another epic track from Mansell – “Death is the road to awe” which was beautifully used in Frost/Nixon trailer.
Dave, I love that music and the trailer of Abram’s Star Trek. That trailer made me want to see the film, I’m not Trekkie at all. I ended up liking the film quite a bit.
Ouch! I feel as if I’m on a deserted island here. I certainly didn’t feel duped by the “Prometheus “trailer mainly because I really like the film. But granted, some people did go in with unrealistic expectations and the trailer fed that.
Now I have to say I didn’t think that “The Bourne Legacy” was a bad film, disappointing but not bad. And I live “Star Wars: Ep. 1″. It’s by far the weakest of the series but it has some great moments. I also like “MI: 2″. It’s a John Woo action picture through and through (Toned down for sure). I had a lot of fun with that.
Anyway, GREAT post! I love posts that prompt good conversation. You also make some good points about trailers. Some are great, some stink, and some give away way too much. But I’m addicted to them.
Yeah, I think most expected to be something more than it was, which was another Alien movie. I enjoyed it too, much better than the last Alien film.
I really dislike The Bourne Legacy but I enjoyed both Episode 1 and M:I-2. I think M:I-2 could’ve been even more fun had it not taken itself so seriously but yeah it’s a John Woo film and I love that big chase at the end.
You make a good point. There were instances where it was taking itself a little to silly. And yes, the last chase sequence is fantastic. Motorcycles, explosions, and an overdose of slo-mo! Loved it!
Nice post Ted… Strangely I did a very similar one a while back (got featured on the HITLIST, oh how I miss those days)… Well done sir.
Yeah I saw your tweet last night, I totally forgot you did a similar post back in 2011 and remember reading it. I miss the Hitlist on IMDB too but fear not my friend, I’m working on something that will make movie bloggers everywhere very happy. Can’t say too much yet because I’m still working to sort out some legal stuff before I can launch it.
Yeah Ted, Prometheus looked liked a million dollars but just didn’t pay off in the story dept.
Speaking of good trailer, bad movie… when the Godzilla remake came out in ’98 the teaser poster had the tagline “Size Matters”. Someone at Lucas Films Photoshopped “Plot Matters” onto the poster. LOL.
Oh yeah I remember Godizill’s marketing push and of course I was super excited for the film. When I went to see it, i wanted to walk out but my buddies were enjoying the film. It was one of the most awful films I’ve ever seen and I’m so glad it tanked. I remember that poster too, it was very funny.
I remember, the more I watched the Wolverine trailer the more I began to fear the film. The fear was justified. Sadly.
Do remember when the Batman Begins trailer was released and the film. I couldn’t find anyone to see it with me! Was the only person to be remotely excited by the trailer.
Think Godzilla is in the category of great trailer, bad film. It looked amazing! Though, the film (like MI2) is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.
You’d have thought that they’d have trailer science down to a T by now.
I think I was too busy trying to find Daniel Henney in the trailer that I wasn’t really paying attention to the entire trailer. Wow, nobody wanted to see Batman Begins with you? Amazing isn’t it how Nolan’s Batman films have grown to be so popular.
You’d think they are smarter with trailers since they make so many of them but they seem to get dumber and more revelatory these days!
I think when the news broke that Fox executives interfered with the production of Wolverine, i sort of knew the film might not be good but I hoped I was wrong. Unfortunately I was right, the movie was a train wreck.
That’s funny, I remember my brother and I went to see Batman Begins on opening weekend and there weren’t that many people in the theater. I felt kind of sick to my stomach because I hoped it would be a big hit so we can see more of Nolan’s Batman films. Fortunately the good word of mouth propelled it to earned more than $200mil and with home video earnings, Warner Bros., gave the green light for The Dark Knight and I think we’re all happy about that.
Great Topic Ted!
although I am the one who is both pleased with Prometheus trailer and movie 😉
I agree completely with you on Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace … I had high hope when I saw the trailer…but I was so disappointed when I saw it. the old ones are FAR BETTER than that. in the end, I haven’t watched the next 2 series.
Great trailer and incredibly bad movie is Clash of the Titans (if I am not mistaken, that’s the title)
Yeah me too, i thought Prometheus’ trailer was excellent and the film itself was good, not great.
I couldn’t even finish watching Clash of the Titans, it’s so bad I had to turn it off 30 minutes into it.
I always think of Catfish and Jarhead when I think of bad or misleading trailers. I actually despise the Phantom Menace trailer because of the fact that this was the 1st “new” Star Wars we would see in decades and the trailer gets you pumped…and then…JarJar Binks.
I agree with Nov too. Clash of the Titans is another good choice!
Great post here Ted.
I haven’t seen Catfish but I already the big twist so I don’t need to see it and I don’t care for that kind of movie. Yeah Jarhead really fooled a lot of people since the trailer made it look like it’s going be some sort of a war film.
Poor Jarjar Binks, LOL.
I already know the big twist in Catfish was what I meant to say.
Yeah. but even if you do know the twist. Watch the trailer. You expect something COMPLETELY diff than what was delivered. Here:
I know, the trailer made it look like it’s some sort of horror/suspense story line. Again I just don’t care for this kind of gimmicky movie.
When I saw the trailer for “Rat Race,” it looks like one of the stupidest movies ever made. I refused to see the movie due to the terrible trailer, in which absolutely nothing funny happened. Then everyone I knew told me I had to see it because it was so funny. My brother finally forced me to watch the DVD. I laughed so hard I had to pause the movie a couple of times. It’s now one of my favorite comedies of all time, yet I would have never seen it due to the trailer.
I don’t even remember Rat Race, I’ll check out the trailer on YouTube.
Pacific Rim looks amazing! I get why you may not like it “Transformers vs Monsters” but the trailer is aiming at young audiences who handed over 1.3 Billion to transformers 3, Del Toro will make this very interesting 😀
Yeah if I was a teenager I would probably be excited for Pacific Rim but I’m in my 30s now and I didn’t care for any of the Transformers movies. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer Del Toro’s smaller and earlier films.
Never seen one of his films I didn’t like and I expect there to be something we don’t know about this film
I do hope there’s more than just big giant robots fighting monsters in Pacific Rim. Let’s hope Del Toro can surprise us with whatever he’s done with the film.
Yea I was so disappointed by Prometheus, given how promising all the trailers and viral marketing was. I guess that made it worse. It’s definitely tough to judge how good a movie is from 2 minutes of hyper-edited cuts!
The funny thing about Prometheus was that I expected to be another Alien film and it followed the story structure like the previous films, so I wasn’t disappointed with it since I knew what to expect from it. Although after watching again recently, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time I saw it. I still think Cameron’s Aliens as the best in the franchise.
This is such an awesome post; trailers are LITERALLY my favorite part of seeing movies in the theater. Someone should let the trailer editors make their own movie because they know exactly what the audience wants to see!!
Thanks Tippi, yeah same here I love trailers but a lot of times, the actual films were quite disappointing.