Prior to almost every major release, moviegoers know just about everything there is to know about the film they're walking into. Maybe they don't quite know the final destination, but it's rare for audiences to be blindsided by anything in one of today's movies. Film marketing and reporting have made fans vastly more knowledgeable than ever before, even before their butts plop into their theater seats. Sites such as our very own Movie Pilot have increased awareness about movies, spreading love and discussion about all of the latest films and stories, but that awareness can come at a cost, often sapping much of the wide-eyed sense of awe that you may have experienced from moviegoing as a child.
Chief among the issues of providing audiences with too much information prior to release is the movie trailer. When a new #trailer is released, you can immediately get it online at your convenience, and all of your favorite sites will instantly have breakdowns, analyzing every frame, and postulating all of the possibilities of what each shot means for the film and its relationship to the franchise. While this may be fun in the moment, it frequently detracts from experiencing the actual movie. Seeing all of the pieces involved in a movie can be thrilling, but so often, trailers go terribly wrong in a plethora of different ways. Here are some recent examples of cinema's biggest culprits:
Trailers Can Spoil The End Of The Movie — 'Batman V Superman' (2016)
One of the most common issues with trailers today is that they spoil key parts of the movie. This trailer for #BatmanVSuperman, in particular, caused major problems, showcasing the film's true climactic battle and the reveal of Wonder Woman coming to the aid of Batman and Superman. Wonder Woman's arrival is one of the best parts of the film, but the trailer completely ruins any chance that we would be surprised by her coming to save the day. Why not just focus on footage of the titular battle between The Dark Knight and Supes instead of spoiling a huge moment that comes later in the film? It was a disappointing trailer to say the least, and was just one on the many issues that fans had with the film.
Some Can Seriously Mislead Audiences (In A Negative Way) — 'Collateral Beauty' (2016)
While some trailers might be riddled with spoilers, others simply deceive audiences into the theater. While the Will Smith-led #CollateralBeauty would have been a horrible movie no matter what, the wildly misleading marketing made many viewers even more upset. Audiences were led to believe that this was a movie about a man who could see corporealized versions of time, love and death, but in reality, it was just an elaborate stunt pulled by his "friends" who were attempting to get him fired. There are several twists at the end of the movie that you could give the trailer credit for concealing, but you don't exactly get points for holding back so much information that audiences believe the story is about something else entirely.
They Often Show The Best Parts, Making Them Less Enjoyable In Cinemas — 'The Nice Guys' (2016)
Other times, the problem is that the trailer is actually phenomenal. #TheNiceGuys had one of the best trailers in recent memory, sucking audiences in and demanding they come to see the movie. Unfortunately, it revealed all of the best moments in the film, leaving the experience of actually going to see it somewhat hollow. While the film was still fun enough, the trailers set a standard that couldn't be topped. It wasn't exactly riddled with spoilers in the traditional sense, but it did spoil many of the film's best comedic moments.
Solution? Create A New Form Of Trailer
With the way the internet and fansites operate now, it's essentially impossible to avoid a massive dissemination of information about an upcoming film. Occasionally a blockbuster like #10CloverfieldLane will successfully get away with a secretive production and a small marketing campaign, but those instances are few and far between. Instead, the best option to lure audiences in without utilizing shortsighted trailers might be to simply reimagine what a trailer is.
#ChristopherNolan is a filmmaker who has always been on the front lines of innovation, and his upcoming film #Dunkirk may be finding it again. Prior to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, audiences in specific theaters were treated to a prologue of Dunkirk, revealing the opening seven minutes of footage from the film. It's not the first time Nolan utilized the strategy, having shown audiences the opening sequence of The Dark Knight Rises as well, but it's a brilliant, and suspiciously unused, strategy.
By limiting audiences' knowledge of a film to the opening sequence, it provides fans with an entirely new experience. The Dunkirk footage gives audiences a chance to glimpse stars such as Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh, while also establishing a distinct tone, setting and plot of the movie. It's a magnificent concept that can give audiences a perfect idea of what the movie will be getting into without giving away a single thing that they'll see later in the film.
And the prologue also doesn't prevent writers from speculating on where the film is going. But this way, instead of speculating based on random scenes cobbled together from the film, fans get to draw from the opening sequence. The change generates a more distinct understanding of what plane the film exists on, and forces filmmakers to really perfect the opening of their film. With so much focus on the opening scene, any breakdowns and analysis of the new "trailer" can be far more demonstrative of the filmmaker's vision instead of a trailer editor's vision.
Now, obviously this isn't a universally applicable concept. Not every film has the sort of opening that lends itself to this marketing style, and not every production can afford to create a sequence that perfectly establishes everything you want an audience to know about a movie sans spoilers. It's an imperfect solution, but many modern trailers have reached a point where they're severely detracting from the moviegoing experience by revealing the most important parts of a movie.
We're at a point where film marketing needs to evolve to match our fan-driven world of never-ending dissection and analysis. But by following in the footsteps of an innovator like Christopher Nolan, movie studios might have the perfect new alternative in place to attract audiences into their movies.