Watching TCM the other night, they showed some original trailers for upcoming classic films and I can remember how they all seemed so exciting - there was that deep booming male voice in the background giving a synopsis of the movie, naming the actors and actresses and using all kinds of hyperbole “the greatest actors of all time come together the create this classic film of epic proportions!”…all with a mono (non-stereo for you kiddies) voice blaring from the screen with occasional snippets of the film thrown in.
Then they would blast big letters across the screen, “Never Before Seen On Screen!” and “The greatest love story of all time” and “A cast of thousands!”
By the time the trailer was finished, I wanted to pay to see the film immediately!
Although trailers today are certainly big budget productions, they seem to lack the excitement and spend more time giving away plot. One recent trailer (the name of the film escapes me) was just annoying with jumping photography that was supposed to be thrilling but gave me a headache by the time the trailer was over.
I think sometimes the “teasers” for big films not being released for 10 months are sometimes better than the regular trailers for films coming out in a few weeks. I think the last trailer that really had me fired up to see the film was the first one for LOTR…the audience actually cheered when it came on. Sadly, trailers like that are few and far between.
I agree - I love those old trailers and how the words would sweep across the screen
I also remember “back in the day” - late 60s, early 70s - when they didn’t rate the trailers. I clearly remember being at the drive-in to watch “Bedknobs & Broomsticks” and seeing trailers for things like “Cannibal Cheerleader Massacre” or “Zombie Flesh Eaters from Poughkeepsie”.
So often, less is more. Most old trailers just gave you a quick pitch for the movie; a lot of new ones are more like an attempt to edit the entire movie into three minutes. (Case in point: the trailer for the upcoming movie Untraceable. Having seen the trailer, I think I could probably just come in for the last ten minutes of the movie without feeling I’d missed any important plot points.)
Todays trailers are the results of focus groups and test audinces. They show the entire movie to some people and ask them for their favorite scenes from the film and then put those in the trailer. So of course the scene where the plot resolves gets mentioned. I think Free Willy is one of the best examples of this stupidity. “Boy meets whale, boy wants to free whale, last shot of the trailer is the whale jumping over the boy into the ocean.” Gee, I wonder what will happen?
Here’s a trailer done in that old-school style for a fairly recent (2001) movie, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Of course, the movie is a spoof of the cheesy 50s scifi movies that used to sport the very sort of trailers you mention, so it pretty well had to be in that style.
The trailers now definitely show too much. When I went to see I Am Legend this weekend, for half the movie trailers I commented a variation of “Don’t need to go see that movie, I’ve already seen it now.”
There seem to be a group of people that need to know all about a movie before they’ll go see it. So what’s the point of going to see it if you already know what’s going to happen?
I don’t know if movies are the same way, but for TV shows the people making the promos aren’t the ones that make the show.
Yeah that’s why I always laugh when people complain that trailers nowadays give away the whole movie. Movie trailers today may tend to show you all the best parts in terms of images but old school movie trailers would literally tell you everything that happens in the movie.
Nice clip Max - thanks. Although what was missing was that man’s voice booming in the background reading the text that was flashing on the screen for those who can’t read very fast. And even though it most certainly looks like a cheesy film, it makes me want to rent the DVD to see it for myself…
The old movie trailers were often just as guilty of giving things away.
The fact is that many people don’t really want to be surprised going in to a movie. The more they know, the easier it is to make a decision ("The Butler did it? Man, I want to see that).
But if you look closely at the older trailers (which we called “previews”), they told plenty about the plot. In fact, there are many trailers nowadays that show quite a bit less (usually the first trailer for a film).