(WARNING: Minor Spoilers for Passengers below)
Trailers — the short, often action-packed advertisements that are intended to help audiences decide whether or not they want to see a movie. While once confined to a short snippet, Today's trailers often run at two minutes or longer, and for a #blockbuster, the reveal of "teaser," "official," and "final" trailers become an event in themselves. Short trailers seemed a thing of the past, with some trailers revealing information to the point of near-spoiling the movie.
Now, though, some trailers are returning to a shorter, info-lite format. The recently released #Passengers, starring #JenniferLawrence and #ChrisPratt, is a perfect example of a trailer with relatively little information about the movie.
The trailer reveals the bare minimum of information about the film's plot, without trying to play off of the story's twists, which if you have seen Passengers, you would know there are quite a few. Passengers box office earnings seems to have suffered from the vagueness of its trailer, though, and that is a great shame. There are a number of advantages to keeping trailers short and sweet in the future.
Audiences Will Usually See Blockbusters Without Knowing Major Plot Details
In 2016, following on from the massive success of Civil War, #Marvel released Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character. Steven Strange was a very different hero than previous Marvel stars. The film was seen as the studio's biggest risk to date, with many speculating that Doctor Strange would be Marvel's first flop. The trailer, which only revealed the most basic information (premise, soundbites, a few special effects shots) did not seem to help matters.
When Doctor Strange was released, however, the naysayers were quickly proven wrong. The film earned $85 million in its opening weekend alone, eventually building to a worldwide gross of $685 million. Currently, Doctor Strange reigns as the biggest single-character introduction film in the #MCU.
This stands as proof that audiences do not need huge amounts of plot information to decide they want to see a film. It was the case with Doctor Strange, and is the same with #HarryPotter spin-off Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
The trailer showcases some great special effects, a bit of fun banter between the film's characters, and a nostalgic throwback to Harry Potter with the use of Hedwig's theme. What the trailer does not do is provide any solid hints about the film's story. Again, though, it did not matter. Fans flocked to cinemas, giving #FantasticBeasts a worldwide gross of $219 million in its opening weekend. Though little had been known of the film's plot, fans had been speculating, and they wanted to see if their theories proved true.
A Lack Of Information Leads To Speculation
Captain America: Civil War was one of the biggest films of 2016. From the moment the film was announced, fans waited eagerly to see which heroes would join #TeamCap, and which would join #TeamIronMan. This question was quickly answered through the film's trailers, and other marketing. Though the movie did not suffer for this at all, one can't help but question the logic of answering one of the biggest questions in a trailer.
Imagine walking into the theater not knowing who had taken which side, with much speculation on this subject having taken place in the lead up to the film's release. Watching the events unfold with few preconceived ideas of how things would happen. The shot of the two teams of heroes charging towards each other would have come as an awesome surprise. However, this now iconic scene was included in the trailer, and many of Civil War's posters. Yes, it was a shot that got many people excited about the film, but most would have still gone to see #CivilWar without knowing that moment was coming. Including it in the trailer robbed audiences of a true "wow" moment in the theater.
Speculation Builds Excitement
Though the early reveal of Civil War's secrets didn't damage the film's success, keeping things hidden from audiences before a film's release can be just as beneficial. 2015's hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a perfect example. The film's trailers showcased some epic space battles, and while providing little information about the newbies, it gave viewers a glimpse of each major character. Except, of course, for Luke Skywalker, the hero of the #StarWars original trilogy. "Where's Luke?" fans cried. After all, Mark Hamill had definitely signed on to appear. Theories came flying in. Why had Luke allowed the galaxy to fall into turmoil once more? Had he turned to the Dark Side, set to appear as new villain Kylo Ren? Audiences raced to theaters to find out, making The Force Awakens the most profitable film of 2015, and the third film in history to earn over $2 billion at the box office.
In today's market, word of mouth feedback can be make or break a film's success. Leaving questions unanswered allows word of mouth to spread before a film is even released, with fans coming together online to discuss their theories. With Episode 8, due for release on December 15, 2017, Star Wars seems to be continuing with the trend it set in The Force Awakens. Without a single trailer being released, the internet is already flooded with theories regarding the parents of Rey, the series new protagonist. They will surely flock to the cinema once more seeking answers.
Let Us Be Surprised
I admit, all of my examples are taken from known franchises, which definitely helps films get away with giving little information in trailers. Some fans, having grown spoiled with the current three-trailer trend, may argue that they need the longer previews if they are undecided on seeing a film. Why, though? It has not always been this way. If a film's trailer leaves you unsure, but you like the film's concept, are a fan of its stars — go see it. Do not rob yourself of a viewing experience you may enjoy because a filmmaker wanted to keep some things secret.
At the very least, I implore future trailer-makers to stop including all the very best scenes in the trailer. Include a few, yes, but leave some awesome moments for film goers to be wowed by when they get to see them for the very first time on the big screen. Please, let us be surprised.