How Much Do You Include In A Trailer?

Nobody likes a spoiler: honestly, telling me that something is going to happen in what I’m watching or reading is enough grounds for me that end that friendship. ‘SPOILER ALERT’ is something that we see so often now that it’s really just a part of our culture but do we now need to warn of spoilers in trailers?

This month there have been a lot of trailers released: some good (Captain America: Civil War) and some not so good (Ghostbusters) but what’s interesting is just how many different trailers a film has before its release.

If you hadn’t guessed, I’m talking about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In the past year I have watched countless teasers, trailers and TV spots for this film. The marketing for this movie is incredibly aggressive and releasing no less than 11 minutes of film footage: seriously, somebody edited everything into chronological order and it’s an 11 minute video. Admittedly, the film itself has a lengthy 2hr 31min running time so that’s only 7% of the feature but that’s still a lot.

The new Captain America: Civil War trailer had the world going wild over the weekend, myself included. To me, it was everything that a trailer ought to be: it was exciting, compelling and it explained the general story-line without revealing key details. The end of the trailer gave us our first look at the new Spiderman and whilst he received mixed reception, I loved it and it made me even more excited about the film.

Superhero movies are more complex now than they once were – with the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier the Russo brothers introduced a new style of comic-book film to the mainstream. The good guys and bad guys are no longer so cut and dry; the story is smarter and more nuanced, examining themes like freedom and justice and what it means to be a hero. So, maybe they can afford to draw people in with striking shots and huge action sequences if that isn’t the extent of the film. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong but that seems like all Batman v Superman is going to be (whilst, of course, setting up the Justice League).

Game of Thrones is one of the most notoriously secretive shows in existence at the moment – at least they were until they hired Ian McShane. I’m not going to say exactly what he revealed about Season 6 of the show but I will say that it was definitely enough to enrage the internet. After coming under fire for it, McShane said:

“I just think, get a f*cking life. It’s only tits and dragons.”

As a fan of the show, I was initially enraged by the comment but honestly, he’s not wrong. Game of Thrones is fantasy in every sense of the word but that’s the point, isn’t it? Viewers want to sit down for an hour and be immersed in this make-believe world which is a lot harder to do when they’re thinking, well I know that guy’s going to die in this episode. It’s easy to dismiss something because it doesn’t fit into your own personal scope of what matters but for some people this show is important and that makes it as real as anything.

10 Cloverfield Lane is an example of a great film with hardly any prior information given out. I saw the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane and after watching it, I had no idea what it was about but I was interested. More than that, I wanted to see the film. You can attribute some of its success to its affiliation with Cloverfield, the fantastic reviews that it received but you can’t deny that the trailer was a factor.

I guess what I’m saying in the end is that there is no perfect formula for what makes a good movie trailer – sometimes you need to show a lot and other times the bare minimum is what makes people want to see more. However, I think it’s fair to say: keep spoilers out of trailers. If you’re not sure what constitutes a spoiler then stop and think: is this something that I could put in the synopsis? If it isn’t then don’t put it in the trailer.

Are trailers revealing too much nowadays? Is less more? What have been your stand-out trailers in film or television? Let me know in the comments.



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