Why Spend Money on a Movie, When You Can Just Watch the Trailer?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Before we even get started, I’m not going to ask the question. Yes, I could have started this entire thing with a simple question: “Are Movie Trailers Ruining Movies?” The answer is a clear yes. There is no debate. There is a clear and definite answer. So, this is not a “both sides of the argument” kind of article. I am telling you why movie trailers, new and old, are ruining movies. There are so many different kinds of movies at fault. There are the trailers that just give away way too much of the movie, including major plot elements or twists, and even in certain cases, the freaking ending. There are also the trailers that show a movie in a certain light, only to have the movie come across with a different vibe entirely.

This debate has been going on for years. Should trailers be shortened; or if they should be gone altogether. Trailers will never just cease to exist. With technology and the internet the way it is today, there is no way trailers will just stop. They reach far too many people on just YouTube alone for the studios to just stop. A single movie trailer gets over a million views on the internet. I wish we lived in a day where trailers could only be seen at the movie theater and not just on the internet for free. It almost takes away that special experience of getting to theater just in time to see the previews. What’s the point when I can just YouTube whatever trailer I want?

But movie studios are doing what they have to do to put the butts in the seats. They are putting the footage in the trailer that they think will get the average viewer to the theater. But does that mean spoiling the entire movie? So many movies do this. They set up a good premise in the trailer and then a couple seconds later, give up a major twist or the ending. I am going to give away spoilers to movies in here. If you haven’t seen them, you have been warned. But you see this in movies like Cast AwayTerminator: SalvationThe Amazing Spider-Man 2, etc.

Certain directors don’t need to do this. Directors like Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy), J.J. Abrams (Star TrekSuper 8), Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s ListLincoln), and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall StreetThe Departed) are very good with keeping a lid on the secrets of their films. They slip up every now and then, with Nolan showing stuff from The Dark Knight which could give away a huge part in the middle of the movie and Abrams, the same thing with Star Trek Into Darkness. In the trailer for The Dark Knight, we see a very-alive Jim Gordon hauling The Joker off to a jail cell. Guess what? This happens in the movie after his alleged death, so it kind of ruins the surprise of him coming back. Because you sit there in the theater thinking to yourself: “Yeah, but what about that scene where Gordon says Joker had nothing in his pockets but knives and lint? That means he must not be dead.” It ruins the surprise. And with the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, we get Khan talking about a captain going down with his ship, yet we see him and Kirk teaming up in the movie for a little bit. It was obvious that team wouldn’t last. But these directors have enough of a fanbase, where they don’t need to give anything away in their trailers. People will show up just because their name is attached to the film.

So many movies nowadays give away so much in their trailers. So much, that it almost ruins the movie. In some cases, it actually ruins the entire experience.

The first example I have, that most people already know, is the movie Cast Away. This is a movie about a man, played by Tom Hanks, who is stranded on an island and needs to find a way off of it. The entire movie is spent on this island and showing this man’s journey. But the trailer literally shows the end of the movie to you. It shows Hanks’ character talking to his buddy back home and he informs him that he was gone for four years. It even shows him showing up at his wife’s doorstep (played by Helen Hunt), which is one of the last shots of the movie. That is just terrible.

Another example is Terminator: Salvation. When I watched this movie, I really found myself interested more in Sam Worthington’s character than Christian Bale’s. That, is probably one of the many reasons I didn’t end up liking the film. But as interested as I may have been in Worthington’s character of Marcus Wright, it didn’t matter because all of the mystery surrounding him was gone. Where did he come from? Who is he? None of that actually didn’t matter because the trailer ruined it and revealed that he is a Terminator. I hate it when that happens.

Why wasn’t this scene actually in the movie? “Isn’t THAT the question of the day?”

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of the worst offenders of all, though. It may not seem like it, with all of the Electro animation, but it gives so much away. By the way, releasing 3-4 trailers before a movie comes out is just plain dumb in my opinion. There isn’t enough fresh material to make any of the newer trailers unique. And if you do use fresh material, you are literally showing the public most of the movie before they even see it. That is why I stopped watching trailers for Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Because they released like four different trailers and I want to go into those movies, still being surprised. But the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is filled with stuff it shouldn’t be. It shows the very last shot of the movie in the trailer. It gives away a BIG moment in the movie. If anyone knows anything about the comic books, they will know what is coming from the trailer. Seeing Peter cry in the trailer…jeez, I wonder why he’d be doing that. Not to even mention the awesome scenes taken out of the movie completely that were in the trailer.

But there is a special kind of hell for the trailers that get you excited for a movie and it turns out to be nothing like what the trailer promises. I’m looking at you Man of Steel. No matter what you think of the movie, whether you loved it or hated it, that trailer was amazing. It had heart, emotion, it made it seem like it was going to be dark and sad and amazing. The majesty surrounding Superman was still intact. Then you see the movie and the vibe is completely different. The movie may be good on its’ own but it is not what the trailer promised. It was just too different. I also compare this trailer to another one like it; Iron Man 3. What a disappointment that movie was. But the trailer was awesome. It was dark and made it seem like the costs were high and there was a badass villain, played by the brilliant Ben Kingsley. And that is NOT what we got. Ben Kingsley wasn’t even a villain! That is the more drastic example in this case, and it ruined the movie. Could it have been good? I don’t know because I am too busy hating it for what it should have and could have been.

Yes, movie trailers are ruining movies. It is a fact. I’m actually at the point where I’m worried that the new trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gave away too much plot detail. I feel like they show the whole movie in that trailer. Hopefully that isn’t the case and I still get surprised in that movie because it is one of the movies I am most looking forward to this summer. It’s funny because you can just make one really good trailer and you’ll be fine. Maybe two. A teaser and a theatrical trailer. Enough to get interest and not give away too much. Get those butts in the seats the old fashioned way. From word of mouth. Having me go see a movie, loving it, and telling everyone I know to go see it is the best way to get people excited to see a movie. You know what trailers I love the most? The ones that are shrouded in intrigue and mystery. The ones like Interstellar or the first Godzilla trailer. Interstellar shows us nothing with its’ first trailer, yet I am completely intrigued and feel the need to see it. And with Godzilla, there was so much mystery surrounding the look of the monster, that it kept my interest. Even though I have seen the newer trailers and seen the mosnter itself, I am still interested. But it is trailers like those that let me still have hope for the movie trailer industry.

Maybe I just like and prefer the old fashioned style of movie trailers and don’t like how accessible they are now, but there is no doubt in my mind that movie trailers, little by little, are ruining the movies. They are over-saturating us and the environment of movies in general. And it is to the point where you pretty much see the entire movie before even paying to go enjoy it. So, why pay ten to twelve bucks for a movie ticket when you can pretty much watch the whole movie in a four minute trailer on YouTube? It doesn’t make much sense. That’s why I had to stop myself from watching the additional trailers for any of the summer movies this year. I have a passion for film. I love everything about them. I enjoy even the technical aspects of it. Its the little things I look for that make my viewing experience so special. And I don’t want it ruined by these previews. I wish they didn’t give so much away with the newer trailers and I feel like my wish will never get granted, but I still have hope that the truly great films can resort to the great form of previews, still leaving us with a good amount of mystery.

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