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.