2.5 minute miracles

Movie-going is one of my favorite activities to do on any day of the week.  Come rain, shine, birthday party, New Years Eve, my funeral, whenever…just take me to the pictures please.  I love the popcorn, the fountain soda, the video games in the lobby, sometimes I even like the film.  But, more than anything I love the 20 minute anticipation jamboree that is the trailers.  A great, great, great thing.

27.  Movie Trailers

I’m pretty obnoxious about procedure when it comes to movie-going.  If there’s more than two of us, I plan it like a military operation.  There’s a seat-getter (I like middle middle), a snack-getter, bathroom-relief scheduled in, and more often than not, a ‘master of tickets’ who can buy them in advance so we don’t have to wait on line.  I usually demand that people meet at least fifteen minutes before showtime.  Thirty minutes if it’s the opening night of something reeeeealllly popular.  If it’s someone who is perpetually late, I lie and give them a false meeting time so they’ll turn up at the actual meeting time.  If I miss the previews due to someone being late…well God help them.

I have a short attention span, so previews are an absolute ideal format.  A riveting two and a half minute display of salesmanship, a good preview makes you want to watch whatever movie they’re advertising right that second instead of the one that you’ve actually come to see.  It happened last night when I was at the cinema to see “Get Smart”–an OK movie that could have been great had they just gone into full “Naked Gun” mode instead of straddling a family-friendly kind of line.  Well, before that minor disappointment was this gem for “Pineapple Express”.

The music selection to play the scenes through, is of course, key.  The song used in the “Pineapple Express” one is excellent.  M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” really ramps up the cool factor and the gunshots from the track interplay with the action perfectly.  I think this movie has a “True Romance” kind of vibe based on what I see from the ad.  I like.

The first trailer shown in America was waaaay back in 1913.  A publicist for Loews theatre, Nils Granlund, developed a filmed advertisement for a play called “The Pleasure Seekers”.  This technique proved so successful that they started to develop previews for films as well.  Incidentally, they’re called ‘trailers’ because, for a time, they were run at the end of a film.  That didn’t work out so well.  Most people tend to leave the theatre when the credits roll.  Not me, I like to know who the foley was and see if there are any treats waiting at the end, a’la “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  Eventually, they wised up and stuck them at the front of the film to widen the audience–previews!

Nowadays, the release of the trailer is almost as big an event as the actual release date of the film.  There used to be a television show on E called “Coming Attractions” that did nothing but show previews.  Production companies will even publish the information about when previews are going to be released, in front of which movie, and in which markets.  So, if you’re a super-fan, waiting to see the newest Harry Potter preview, you could look online to see that it’s going to play before such and such a movie in most markets.   Or, you could just frickin’ go online and watch it there.

I remember how, in front of one of the first Potter films, there was a trailer for the first Spider-Man film.  As soon as I realized what it was that I was watching (about 5 seconds in), I wriggled in my seat with glee, squealing and clapping my hands together in a very ‘little girl’ way and I have never lived it down.  I still believe that it honestly merited that reaction. 

Because most frequently, the trailers are needed to ignite the advertising blitz before the picture is finished, you’ll sometimes see footage in them that never turns up in the actual completed film.  Other times, as is the case with the following “Spider-Man” trailer, ‘special shoot’ footage is used.  These are sequences that are filmed entirely for promotional purposes.  This is a terrific example.  It’s clear, though, why they had to pull the ad in September of 2001.


For the most part, you can also anticipate what type of trailers you’ll get based on which film you’re seeing.  Checking out the latest Will Ferrell?  You’ll get mostly comedy.  Horror films are led by other thrillers and sci fi pics.  I was bitterly disappointed by the previews that I got in front of “Sin City” when I saw it.  I distinctly remember leaning over to my friend and saying “I better see some Spandex soon or I’m gonna be pissed.”  I didn’t get one stinking super-hero preview.  WTF?  I dont’ know who programmed the trailers into that film but they should be punished.

As a general rule, art house and foreign film previews are never as exciting.  They’re just not brash or coarse enough to make a blazingly good trailer.  Sorry Sweden, France, and Lars Von Trier.  Your trailers just aren’t as good.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

There’s a whole artform and industry that’s grown up around the trailer.  Andrew J. Kuehn devoped Kaleidoscope Films in the late 60’s to create movie ads and it’s largely considered to be the most influential production house and the breeding ground for today’s top companies such as, Ant Farm, Trailer Park, and Motor Entertainment.  It’s a competetive industry and there are two awards that the makers of modern movie trailers can strive for:

The Key Art Awards are all-encompassing and celebrate many aspects of a film’s promotion such as poster art, copywriting, and internet advertising.

The Golden Trailer Awards, as you can probably imagine, focus specifically on the…um…trailer.  Besides awarding different genres of movie previews like romance, horror, comedy, action, etc…they also have really fun categories like best voice-over and best no-budget trailer.  The Golden Fleece Award is given, I’m pretty sure, to the movie trailer that most mis-leads you into thinking that it might actually be a good picture.  Swindled!  Past winners include “8MM” and “Hollow Man”.  Here’s a link to their website:  Golden Trailer

Hopefully next year’s Golden Fleece winner won’t be the following:

Talk about much anticipated.  I’m a bit nervous about it all.  The director is the same one that did “300” which was a beautiful but stupid movie.  I suppose the source material for “Watchmen” is that much better–it could actually be a good film.  I’ll say this, that trailer is wicked.  I especially like the choice of 90’s throwbacks Smashing Pumpkins to set the mood.  Billy Corgan, your whiny vocals promise greatness.  Zak Synder, please deliver.

2 responses to “2.5 minute miracles”

  1. […] Jump to Comments I know that I’ve geeked out about movie trailers on this blog before. Post But that was about the general concept of trailers not just one trailer specifically.   Anyway, I […]

  2. […] for a play called “The Pleasure Seekers.” This happened back in 1913. The blog “I Love Things That Are Great” explains that the technique was so successful that theater owners started to make trailers […]

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