Here it is. The first official trailer for the most highly-anticipated film of the year. Fade in. Action. Music. Intensity. It hits you all at once. Your excitement is building. Wow, this movie looks good.
Months later, you sit down in the theater with your extra-large bag of buttery popcorn. The lights go down. The opening credits roll and– wait. I’ve seen this part before! I’ve heard that joke already!
Then, before you know it, the movie is over. The trailer you saw months ago spoiled all the major plot points and killed all the funny punchlines.
Trailers are supposed to get people to want to see the film. They are not supposed to give away the whole film. Yet, this mistake happens more often than not. Perhaps the most infamous case in recent memory is that of Terminator 2.
The original Terminator, released in 1984, starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the bad guy, an unstoppable killing machine sent from the future. Then, after seven years of anticipation, Terminator 2 was released in 1991.
Leading up to the film’s release, a trailer came out with the tagline: “this time he’s back for good!” There it was, the big twist of the movie given away in an instant.
You see, the entire first half hour of Terminator 2 was constructed to conceal this fact. It was meant to be an epic reveal at the mid-point of the movie, intended to shock the audience. Instead, months of hard work on production of the film were undone because of a mistake made by a couple of marketing guys.
Now, movies have come a long way since 1991, but trailers certainly have not. Last night was the debut of the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The trailer opens with two familiar characters from the last film. It shows the old Jurrasic World island in ruin. So far, so good.
What follows is the mistake, which seems inevitable with a trailer longer than two minutes. Clips of explosions, main characters running from dinosaurs, a volcanic eruption, and more climactic moments are shown.
Now, why should I pay to go see this movie when I’ve already seen the best moments in this short trailer? This is one of the most overlooked problems in Hollywood. Obviously, studios need to generate hype for a movie. They want their movies to do well at the box office.
But they are going about it in a way that ruins the experience for viewers. There are no more surprises. Audiences know exactly what to expect.
With the emergence of Netflix and on-demand, the future of movie theaters is looking bleak. Hollywood studios need to figure out a better way to fill the seats without giving away their whole movie in one trailer.