Archive for October 17th, 2018

A couple of days ago I read a tweet from a mainstream movie magazine promising a link to a synopsis/breakdown of the trailer for Avengers 4.  Said tweet information has been “leaked” and may or may not be true. I am sure many fans of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) will lap this up.  It could be a publicity stunt, or a genuine leak. Either way, I did not follow it and read the story.  I am a moderate fan of the MCU, having seen all of them, liked most, and loved a couple.  I will see Avengers 4, Infinity War 2, or whatever it will be called; if I am invested in a film series, or if a film is from a director, or within a genre I like, I will probably see it regardless of the trailer.  Equally, I am not the person who avoids trailers (I have a couple of friends who are, one of whom reads this blog ( you know who you are)), averting my gave and playing on my phone in the cinema.Avengers-4

So what is the state of trailers in modern cinema?  As the title alludes to I grew up in the era of “voiceover man”.  Trailers started with the words “In a world…..” proceeded by the description of the man’s quest (yes, in the 80’s more often than not the story centred around a white, North American or British, heterosexual male) of the movies protagonist.  More recently in the era of mega blockbuster, tent-pole comic book movies, trailers tend to follow a Bait and Switch narrative.  The Bait and Switch quite simply, like the twist in a movie itself sets up a scenario purely with the intention of misguiding, or wrong stepping the viewer.  An interesting example of this came in the trailer for Mission: Impossible Fallout  – WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD – In the trailer there is a brutal fight in a bathroom, the trailer is cut to look like the characters played by Tom Cruise, and Henry Cavill are fighting each other. In fact, there is a third person in the scene, Cruise and Cavill are in fact fighting together against this third man.  As it transpires Cavill is the villain, and Cruise does end up fighting him.  The trailer telegraphs the characters intentions and character making it easy for viewers to unpack the narrative and be ahead of the characters on screen (although to be honest, the film itself telegraphs this without the prior indoctrination). END OF SPOILERS

So back to the question, of what is the role of a trailer in modern cinema?  The is a trailer for Psycho containing little or no footage of the film, it simply has Alfred Hitchcock explaining that patrons who arrive late will not be admitted. Then you have movies like Layer Cake.  The main UK trailer features celebrity chef Marco Pierre White comparing the ingredients of the film to that of a cake. This is interspersed with random scenes from the film that are obfuscated by a lack of context.

Put simply A trailers sole job is to sell the film.  This can be done in many ways; titillating with gratuitous sex, violence, or violence. Intriguing with the promise of an enthralling plot.  Or parading the credentials of the talent on show.  The new Gerard Butler movie Hunter Killer is unlikely to trouble Oscar voters, but the trailer proudly tells us that co star Gary Oldman is an Oscar winner.  But this trailer commits a more fundamental sin; assuming there is not too much bait and switch, the trailer to has at least two major plot revelations, and final act shots. There is nothing worse than feeling that you have seen a movie before you have seen it.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to promote a film, I personally am just getting a little tired of a film getting three trailers proceeded by a teaser which in turn is proceeded by a teaser for the teaser. All of which starts the best part of a year before the film is released.  Please give me an original trailer, largely free from spoilers.

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