How Accurate Is Your Movie Trailer Assessment Skill?

Tonight I saw a trailer for the upcoming sci-fi comedy “Paul.”

This was a pretty classic example of a movie where even a 15-second TV trailer quite adequately tells me that this movie is going to be awful beyond all belief. “This is going to be a shitfest of the first order” was my initial reaction. It looks like an absolute pile of dung.

But to my admitted surprise, Rotten Tomatoes is running it at about 65% Fresh, which approximates to “It’s not great, and you could argue not even good, but it’s not an absolute pile of dung.” So I might be wrong about “Paul.”

Usually my general impression of a trailer is correct. I expected “Rango” to be good, and it was. I expected “Gnomeo and Juliet” to be crap, and it was. I could tell from the trailer than “Red Riding Hood” would be indescribably awful, and indeed the reports are that the picture is a crime against art. All the best movies I’ve seen in the last number of years had trailers that had me thinking “Hey, that looks pretty good.” All the movies I saw that sucked were ones where I had a bad feeling from the trailers. Movies that turned out to be guilty pleasures looked, in the trailers, like they would be guilty pleasures, like “Machete,” which was obviously going to be stupid but in a fun, joking way. Movies that looked like they would be bloated CGI fests were exactly so.

How accurate is your trailer-fu?

Can you think of a movie that looked great in the trailer but turned out to be a peice of shit?

Can you think of a movie where you thought the trailer looked stupid but the movie surprised you in being much better than you thought possible?

I never, ever judge movies by trailers, so I guess that makes me really bad at it?

Usually I research films before watching them, so by the time I even see the trailer, it confirms what I know already.

Once in a while though, I will see trailers for films I’ve never heard of, and I usually try to spot reliable indicators of quality (rather than the actual scenes in the trailer) to make any sort of judgment on it.


  1. Any DeNiro movie where he’s not a mobster in the trailer will suck.
  2. Any DeNiro movie where is is a mobster will rock.
  3. Any Jet Li, Donny Yen, Jackie Chan, or Tony Jaa movie will have good fight scenes, only if they are the main protagonist.
  4. Any film directed by Spielburg, Scorcese, Cameron, etc. is worth watching.
  5. Any Japanese Horror film will rock.

[ol][]Watch the trailer for Rubber. Done? Great.[]Now check out the Tomatometer.[/ol]Confidence restored? Then my work is done.

Ok…watching the Rubber trailer…my thought was ‘this is not a real movie.’

I have to say, though, I laughed at the tire in the shower. :wink:

Why do you think it’s ability on your part instead of the film trailers being accurate reflections of the work?

Trailers don’t matter to me as much as pedigree.

No matter how goofy and even stupid the trailer for Paul is, the pedigree is enough to make me give it the benefit of the doubt. Come on, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost together again! They were fantastic in Shaun of the Dead, which also might have looked goofy and stupid on paper and in a trailer, but which turned out to be hilarious. They wrote Paul together too. It’s directed by Greg Mattola, who directed Superbad and Adventureland. And it has Jane Lynch, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Seth Rogan, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in it. And Steven Spielberg! Even if it turns out to be disappointing, which it may, or may not, the pedigree is there to give it a chance. For me anyway.

I try not to watch trailers, though they’re hard to avoid since I’m in the theater so much. I might see a trailer or part of a trailer once but then I close my eyes and plug my ears after that. I close my eyes and plug my ears a lot. I’m going to have a bitch of a time staying away from any info about Super 8. I’m not going to watch any trailers or clips, not going to read any threads, reviews or articles. I’m not going to see any more stills if I can help it. I’ve seen one with this guy looking up at the sky, and that’s more than I wanted to see. I want to go into Super 8 as close to 100% spoiled as humanly possible. I don’t want to know anything about it except the title and the fact that it’s directed by J.J. Abrams. And that, well, at some point some guy looks up at the sky for some reason (I can guess why, but I don’t want confirmation).

Aw man, I wish I had your willpower. The most recent Super 8 trailer looks amazing. Of course, it really doesn’t say anything. There’s a 66 point frame-by-frame examination of the movie that still boils down to “Uh, we don’t have any idea what this movie is really about.” I would say the less the trailer actually reveals the better the movie usually is. Christopher Nolan has a knack for this. The trailers are all awesome, but despite seeing them all the time, I still went into Dark Knight, Inception, etc., still not having any clue as to what the actual plots where.

I would agree with that. I hate trailers that give everything away. I almost didn’t read your reply, that’s how freaked out I am about spoilers for Super 8. I have to be very very very careful from now on. I don’t even want to see a poster other than the current black one with the 8 on it.

I don’t do this very often, but every now and then it’s fun to try.

See, I was trying to do the same thing with Inception. All I’d seen was the poster, and I hadn’t looked at it closely. It was Leo in front of some buildings, that’s all I gathered from my brief glimpses. I hadn’t seen any trailers or clips or read any synopsis or articles or interviews or seen any stills or ANYTHING. Then I dip into a thread that had “spoiler free” in the title and there it was, that Inception had something to do with dreams. It would have been so cool to see it for the first time without even knowing that much, but it’s my own fault for trusting.

One of the few successful times I’ve been able to do this was with The Matrix. I’d seen Bound, and loved it, so knew the directors were capable of something special. I steered clear of any and everything to do with promotion, and went into The Matrix completely unspoiled, knew nothing about the plot and hadn’t seen any trailers or clips. Boy was the effort worth it, so see/experience it all for the first time on a huge screen. It became a drug. I saw The Matrix something like 30 times in the theater.

I also did that for The Fellowship of the Ring, but that was because I didn’t care about it until I saw it, so I never sought out any reviews/pictures or clips/trailers. It was a non-entity to me, and I only went because I liked Peter Jackson’s other movies. I was totally unspoiled through no particular effort on my part. I am so glad though, since everything was new and amazing and magical and wonderous! I fell in love on first viewing, and later read the books.

I don’t know what the next movie will be where I try to stay 100% unspoiled. Maybe Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret, due this fall. I’ve only seen one still of Chloe Moretz so far. I read a synopsis of the story but that was a year ago and I don’t even remember what I read.

I still clearly remember how much fun the trailer of for Star Trek V was. I also vaguely remember the movie being terrible, but I’ve blocked out most of the details about exactly what was wrong with it. I’m pretty sure all the best bits were in fact in the trailers, however.

I never pay much attention to previews (as they used to be called). They are designed to be misleading. I’m more interested in who directed or wrote the film, who’s in it, and what the critics say.

Really, depending on trailers to tell you what movies to see is like depending on fast food ads to tell you about fine cuisine.

The trailer for Iron Man 2 looked fantastic. The movie itself… was rather forgettable.

Trailer is the original term, preview is newer.

My rule is that if you see more than 3 different trailers for a film it’s going to suck.

That inception has to do with dreams is not a spoiler. Sure, it spoils you if your goal is literally to know nothing about the movie. But if that’s really your objective, you probably shouldn’t be clicking on threads about the movie at all.

I was going to mention Star Trek V. The trailer looked AWESOME and the movie proved to be a GIANT PILE OF SUCK. The disconnect remains green in my memory over 20 years later.

Another disconnect was Godzilla, the American version. There were some early teaser trailers that were great. There was this one where a class is in a Natural History museum, looking at a T Rex skeleton, and the docent is going on about “largest land predator…top of the food chain…blah blah blah”. Cut to a water glass with the concentric ripples in it, ominous “thud Thud THUD” in the background, and a foot comes through the skylight and crushes the skeleton. Any claw on the foot is larger than the whole T Rex.

Had there been that much creativity spread across the whole movie they eventually released, the movie would have been approximately 500% better.

I remember one notable movie where I couldn’t have used the trailer whether I wanted to or not, Jerry Seinfeld’s *Comedian *

The trailer is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen. My boyfriend’s roommate went to go see the movie in the afternoon the day it opened, and my boyfriend and I were going to go see it in the evening. The three of us ate dinner together, and he vehemently talked us out of wasting our money on that dreck (this guy thought Doom was pretty decent, so when he says a movie’s bad… it’s bad). I’ve caught a few clips online, and I’m pretty glad I didn’t go.

Trailer available here:

I saw Paul a couple weeks ago and will say that the trailer was an accurate assessment. And…

…we get it, Seth. You like pot. Can we all agree to that point so you can STFU about it already?

On the other hand, I expected Shutter Island to be a completely different beast based on the trailer (since I hadn’t read the novel prior either).

My trailer fu is weak. I never assume, as I should, that the best bits are in the trailer. Sometimes I luck out, like with Red, but most the time I’m sunk, like with The A-Team. And yes I know, that last one was my own fault for thinking it would be funny in the first place. But occasionally I have a husband to appease.

My only rule about trailers is that if I see a trailer for a movie, and then quite a bit of time later (say, 6 mos or more) I see another trailer for the same movie that looks completely different - that movie is going to suck.

I’m curious what you thought a discussion about a movie would be that didn’t even mention the premise.