Monday, 14 June 2010

The Culture of Trailers, Clips and More: How Much Is Too Much?

Last week on the MTV Movie Awards featured many forms of entertainment from dance numbers, speeches and skits, but also gave us more of a new norm with it in the form of new trailers and film clips for upcoming films. I remember they did this on the awards last year as well, as it was when the New Moon trailer first debuted. This year we had a clip from the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and a trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

I watched the The Twilight Saga: Eclipse clip, because I couldn't resist (and co-hosting a Twilight podcast means it's technically 'research' :), but I didn't watch the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 trailer. In fact, I ran from the room and tweeted about it saying it was the beginning of the long stretch of time of avoiding all there is to avoid about Harry Potter.

Now, this isn't because I don't like the Harry Potter world. I love it. I LOVE IT. Last year I re-watched and reviewed all the Harry Potter films and this year I'm re-reading all the books. But, I don't watch any of the trailers for this particular franchise (I slipped once, don't tell anyone!), and the reason is I'm already sold on it. I will see the film. Probably the first day of release. Likely multiple times in the theatre. I don't need to see or know anything more about the film. I'll be there.

But, in not watching it does mean I'm missing out on the reactions and hype from now until November and that's becoming more and more part of the culture of film. People look forward to them, chat about them, spoof them, critique them, once they are out - people are all over them. Also, trailers for the big films actually have release dates and are strategically released on shows like the MTV Movie Awards or aligned to audiences through what films they show in front of. But there are some film that I just don't want to see anything for, it's not a new thing for me - the first time I remember actively avoiding the trailer was for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (and boy was that worth going in blind!). With the Harry Potter series, I think they've done a great job adapting the book to films and it's one of the few examples where I've enjoyed the films more than the books. I'm also way less familiar with the books and giving that Deathly Hallows is going to be a new format of 1 book 2 films, I have no idea what they are going to do. And I don't want to - I trust it will be interesting to see without knowing anything about it. I'm looking forward to it, I want to support it, I excited for it and I just don't want to know anything more about it.

The clip from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is a bit of a different story. It's one that I almost felt like I couldn't not watch it. I knew it would be part of the talk over at Before the Dawn, and well ... it's Twilight, what can I say, it has that pull to want to watch it. It's funny because it feels like they've been holding their cards close to their hearts on footages, images and clips for such a long time and in the past few weeks the amount of content has exploded, many of which are official images. I did watch the clip, but I'm getting close to not watching any more as I want to save some to the experience of seeing it on the big screen. But, clips are a different beast from trailers. Trailers are intended to be see on their own, to be just a few moments to give you a taste of the film. But watching clips, feel very different as they almost always feel out of context. Rarely to we have time to settle into the world and let the atmosphere take us it. They can serve to let you know that an important scene is included, show neat effects, great acting, etc. but rarely do they feel like they will be as powerful as you see them in the film. I think trailers are created and seen in the format they are intended, where as clips seen out of context, can feel a bit strange. I know watching the Eclipse clip I kept wonder about the music and if that was the score we'll hear in the film.

These are two films and worlds that I acknowledge that I'm already very well versed in, so just a brief moment can say a lot. We've seen a lot of great trailers this year, two that I saw many many times but still think are really good are Kick-Ass (see trailer) and The Sorcerer's Apprentice (see trailer). Kick-Ass especially as it really gives the tone of the film without telling us all the content. Upcoming films this year where the trailers has won me over where the premise alone may not have include: The Kids are Alright (see trailer), Knight and Day (see trailer) and The Adjustment Bureau (see trailer).

What's your take? Do you like to see trailers or clips? Both? The most recent poll shows that trailers themselves make up a huge percentage of what contributes to making a decision. How about clips? Or even when films have 'the first five minutes' available? Do you watch them? Avoid them? Have they made you take a chance on a film you'd otherwise not? Do you find they enhance the experience of film, or say to much?

If you do want to see the clips and trailers from the MTV Movie Awards - Geeks of Doom has them all here. Or if you only want to see one or the other you can watch the The Twilight Saga: Eclipse trailer clip here and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 trailer here.


Ryan McNeil said...

Vance at The Audient had a good post about this on Friday.

Trailers are becoming a difficult entity. They seem to do one of three things almost every time:

Give away too much.
Mis-represent the film.
Turn you off it entirely.

Once in a while you'll get a gem (not my cup of tea, but THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA comes to mind), but by and large I think that trailers are an artform completely ignored by the PR people responsible for the movies.

While I can't avoid them entirely (and I seriously have no clue how you do it), I try not to fan the flames. Online, I'll watch 'em once and that's that. I don't seek out different cuts, international vs domestic, or red band versions. I don't go frame by frame and analyze them. Even once I post them, it's in a "Here it is" capacity...mentioning precious little about what I think. That's also why there's almost no mention of them on the podcast.

All in all, I wish Hollywood would pay more attention to how they push their movies...and re-examaining the formula of the trailer is the first thing I think needs work.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

None of those three things was get you to see a film. Do you find this to be the case? A trailer never makes you want to see a film?

I think trailers have gotten a little crazy in the last few years, giving away way to much of the film. Although, I was them more and more now, so I do pick up a lot from just one trailer. If I see it 5 times? It's almost like seeing the film.

Wow, I totally don't remember watching The Devil Wears Prada trailer - I just remember seeing the film!

I've heard people call trailers an art form before. Not sure I agree with that. They *can* be, but in essence they are one of many marketing techniques. As you mentioned they can really parse them out with green band, red band, and different cuts... I again see that as a roll out marketing technique to build hype and it certainly can work. I just don't always 'get' it.

The biggie after to spoilery, is definitely when they misrepresent a film. No one likes that. No one. I think people feel tricked, and they hold on to that feeling long after seeing the film.

Oh, I don't avoid them entirely - but I do for certain films (Harry Potter, Star Trek, mostly franchise stuff where I love the franchise). I leave the room if they come on TV and I have my iPod handy in the theatre. There's always a way. I heard that Siskel used to always enter the theatre after they were done. Wild, eh?

Elizabeth said...

The trailers are actually my favourite part of going to the movies, oddly enough. (I actually get really upset when I miss them!) I encounter movie advertising in exactly two places: on public transit and during the previews before a screening, so I rely pretty heavily on trailers to remind me of what's coming out and when. I follow various movie blogs that give me news on what's being made, what's coming out, etc. but nothing really makes the same impact as getting to see an actual edited piece of the film.

Clips and teasers aside from trailers don't interest me much, though. I think it's because the scenes are isolated from the rest of the film and don't give me much narrative tension to go on because there's no context for that tension.

I also don't tend to watch trailers online whenever they debut, choosing instead to wait until I see them at the theatre in front of an actual movie. I don't know, it just adds to the movie going experience for me.

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