Fans V Trailers

| January 8, 2018 | 0 Comments


WE OPEN on a wide expanse of dust and dirt. No civilization for miles. A single heavy BOOT stomps down amidst the sand, and we pan up to– 

Our hero: THEODORE QUINN (late 30s). Handsome, rugged, blonde. He smiles as if at ease, but the scars on his face tell a different story…

(40 pages later…)

Theo scrambles towards the spaceship’s hangar bay, just as a second LASER BLAST strikes him in the side. He keels over, bleeding, as his enemy SERGEANT ROSS looms over him.

(20 pages later…)

Theodore’s love interest PATTY (30s) nurses him back to health.


Your wounds will heal, don’t

worry. And I have a plan

to defeat Ross!

(30 pages later…)


Woohoo, take that, Ross! 


I love you. 

"But alas, I have just learnt that I am part robot, your father's creation meant to protect you. How could I ever learn to love?" photo credit: zerobaek0100 LEGO CUSTOM BY HOBBYBRICK via photopin (license)

“But alas, I have just learnt that I am part robot, your father’s creation meant to protect you. How could I ever learn to love?”
photo credit: zerobaek0100 LEGO CUSTOM BY HOBBYBRICK via photopin (license)

Why are all four of these scenes in my trailer?

Okay, I understand that movies need to sell tickets (or Netflix subscriptions, but let’s be real, you’re not on Netflix for their movies). But if there’s one chain entitled, pissed off YouTube comment I can get behind, it’s the “Way to go you just showed us the whole movie.” Because when a trailer takes you through the whole journey or explains just a little too much about what’s going on… What can I look forward to seeing when I clock in for the big screen?

I’m more forgiving with this when we’re talking about popcorn B-movies, which need to rely on large or clever marketing campaigns. I’ll even give biopics and dramas some leeway, because there’s not a whole lot of explosive scenes to choose from. But when we get to big name companies pulling this, that’s when it gets complicated. How many new Star Wars fans are you really recruiting with each big new trailer? Does Marvel really need to release an onslaught of clips from the movie, taking us through the most important and anticipated scenes their titles are building up to? On the gaming side, why does Square-Enix feel the need to release dozens of Final Fantasy XV trailers on its last month preceding release, after having been silent on the game for almost ten years and building hype around the rarity of its footage?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens handled this with perhaps the greatest finesse. The trailers gave away little to nothing about the plot, the characters, or how they come into each other’s lives, and built up to a much anticipated return of a beloved saga without capitalizing on the movie’s biggest scenes. Fast forward two years, however, and director Rian Johnson Tweets that those viewers hoping to go into sequel The Last Jedi blind should absolutely avoid the new trailer. Sure enough, it was chock full of pivotal scenes from the film; its one redeeming quality was that we had no context for any of them, and it was slightly misleading – though hardly enough to fool die-hard fans.

The problem is, there’s simply no way to have that “blind” experience Johnson wishes on some of his fans. In today’s day and age, if you’re not spoiled by the trailer, you will be spoiled by a long, overly thought out Tumblr post. If you’re not spoiled by a long, overly thought out Tumblr post, you will be spoiled by a funny meme feat. Star Wars screenshots. And if you’re not spoiled there, well, best of luck to you, because you will be spoiled by a crappier, less original meme.

Rare footage of the last lightsaber fight from The Last Jedi. photo credit: Kalexanderson Playing with shadows via photopin (license)

Rare footage of the last lightsaber fight from The Last Jedi.
photo credit: Kalexanderson Playing with shadows via photopin (license)

And if, by some miracle, you see nothing from any of those sources, you will catch that trailer next time you’re in a theater – because you can’t just close your eyes and ears to skip the previews, and because Star Wars will force that trailer to precede every other sci-fi movie you’re dying to see, damn it. Companies need to realize the kind of forums that fans have, that everything that’s put out on a trailer is going to be dissected and studied to no end, that even when we know something’s going to happen, we’d rather learn about it through the experience – and not as part of an ad campaign. When a trailer for a movie literally called Batman V Superman shows its titular heroes teaming up (with guest star Wonder Woman), it becomes woefully obvious exactly how their much-anticipated fight will end.

To play devil’s advocate, I can see why companies might argue otherwise. Again, certain films may fall to the wayside in trying to compete against these blockbuster juggernauts, and in those scenarios, trailers will take advantage of whatever scenes early screeners responded to most. Videogames, which get nowhere near the kind of word of mouth that movies do, need to make themselves stand out through their ad campaigns – and to their benefit, have a lot more hours of content to hold back for first-time players. There is always a case to be made for showing more, but certain companies could benefit from taking a hard look at the foothold they already have, from asking themselves “What will this trailer really accomplish? Are we showing more, or are we showing too much more?”

“When we talk about the money shot, is it the money we care about, or the power of the shot itself?”

Featured photo credit: squesada70 Supes & Bats via photopin (license)

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Category: Art and Literature, featured, Science and Technology, TV and Movies

Aaraf Afzal

About the Author ()

Aaraf Afzal is many things, but he's not particularly good at being any of them. He continues to work towards this goal, among others, studying Film & TV and Economics at Boston University. An avid subscriber to the belief that all forms of media have their own sense of artistic beauty, he is particularly invested in writing fiction and recently released his first novel "Re: Revolution" in Bangladesh. Alongside his pursuits at Culture Shock, he's currently at work writing an online series called "The Chosen Zeroes." Fandoms and inspirations include Neil Gaiman, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, Marvel Comics, and Culture Shock. Giggity.

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