ByPhilip Clarke, writer at
Philip Clarke

There's nothing worse than that sinking feeling you get when the trailer you just watched has revealed some crucial information and effectively spoiled the plot. How could the studios that are marketing these films possibly think that this is the best approach to take? If you have asked yourself this question, don't worry because you are not alone. We've all been there. Many trailers today unfortunately give far too much away and leave nothing up to the imagination.

The saddest part about this distressing phenomenon is that it does a total disservice to both the audience and the filmmakers. The cast and crew who worked so very hard on the film that you wanted to see have effectively been betrayed. There is no longer any sense of surprise or excitement at the prospect of watching the film. You've pretty well seen the whole thing in roughly three minutes. What's the point of paying to see a longer version of the same story? Trailers are supposed to entice you, not drive you away. Here are twenty trailers that do irreparable damage to their respective films through their spoiler-filled mini-movies...

20. Insidious (2011)

Why It Spoils The Movie: This trailer is actually pretty good for the most part, until the very end when Lin Shaye's character reveals that "It's not the house that's haunted, it's your son". It's one of the key points of the film that viewers now totally expect to happen at some point. One of the things that Insidious does really well as a horror film is have the characters actually move into a new house when they can't handle the current one being haunted. They move into the new house and yet somehow their haunting is still going on. It's later revealed as this trailer spoils that it's their son Dalton who's haunted and not the house, which is why they were followed by all of the horrible spirits in the first place. Outside of that, this trailer is pretty great. It's ultimately too bad because it would have been a fantastic reveal in the middle of watching the film if it weren't for this trailer.

19. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Outside of the fact that the trailer gives away that all of the enemies of our heroes have banded together, so our heroes have in turned banded together, there's a brief shot near the end giving away Will's final fate. It's rather blink-and-you'll miss it, but discerning viewers would be able to tell that Will is at wheel of the Flying Dutchman, so it's to be assumed that he kills Davy Jones at some point. It's rather brief in the trailer, but one has to wonder why something so important to his character is even briefly showcased. If the shot were taken out, it wouldn't change the pacing or the overall edit whatsoever and then that bit of info wouldn't have to be spoiled before the actual movie. There really is no purpose for that shot to be revealed in the trailer. For some reason, people have decided that showing the ending or clues towards the ending is the best way to market a film, when it's really not. A film should be marketed by the director, the writer, the actors and the style and the tone of the film. It should most definitely not have crucial character developments or twists spoiled with momentary shots flashing by to give it all away.

18. The Negotiator (1998)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Was any detail about the film left out of that trailer? No, I think they got everything. It shows the set up for the film, a lot of the action, but worst of all the fact that Kevin Spacey teams up with Samuel L. Jackson. Whoever put this trailer together decided that they wanted there to be no air of mystery or genuine intrigue for audiences watching the film. Why would they, when pretty well the entire film is summed up in such a short amount of time? It's honestly mind-boggling how anyone thought that this trailer would do the film any kind of justice. People tend to have short attention spans, and in this case the film has two versions. There's the feature length one that the people who made the film worked very hard to put together, and then there's the two and half minute one. Which one are most people going to watch? The latter of course.

17. Passion (2013)

Why It Spoils The Movie: A Brian De Palma flick starring Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams? Sounds great, at least until it's revealed that McAdams gets killed right near the end, and then at her funeral, she's just standing there because she's not actually dead. Or something like that. I haven't actually seen this one, but after this trailer, I really don't want to. Two spoilers about the same character in one trailer is just not cool. Once again, whoever edited this decided that they just wanted to give away all of the crucial plot information so that audiences know exactly what they're going in for. Had I just stuck with the original teaser trailer, then I probably would have watched this one. The first trailer does such a better job; it's not even funny. It's hard to believe, but it has the same story and characters in it, and yet afterwards it actually looks tantalizing and worthwhile.

16. The Impossible (2012)

Why It Spoils The Movie: It's a great movie that tells a wonderfully powerful story about the bond of family and triumph of the human spirit. The film details the experiences of a family who were caught in the middle of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. While their exploits are both heartbreaking and heartwarming, did we really need to know that they all survived at the end? Of course, it's absolutely wonderful that they did in real life, but the trailer just didn't need to give the ending away. That way then audiences could truly feel the satisfaction of seeing them together at the end because their survival was actually at times in question throughout, as opposed to always assured. The film is a harrowingly realistic portrayal, that being said the trailer lets you know that none of them are actually ever in any mortal danger, because they'll walk away just fine with their deserved happy ending.

15. Free Willy (1993)

Why It Spoils The Movie: If you were a child of the 80s and saw this in the theatre, then you probably didn't see the trailer beforehand. Or if you were a child of the 90s like myself and watched this at home on good old VHS, then you probably didn't watch the trailer either, which is a very good thing. This trailer really sucks because it shows pretty much the entire plot in its run time. Sure, it's a family movie and in being so, they tend to be rather predictable. That being said, that's no excuse for a spoiler-filled marketing campaign. If the film were released today it might actually work for families, because then the parents would know exactly what's going to happen in the film, so they'd know that it was relatively appropriate for all ages. For the rest of the population that's curious about watching it however, this trailer would just absolutely wreck it. The worst part hands down is just the fact that the very end shows Willy jumping through the air over the rocks to freedom. So Willy is freed at the end of the movie? Glad they gave that away.

14. The Double (2011)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Are you people kidding me? One of the worst trailers ever made by far. Not only does this trailer show the entire movie, but it gives away the biggest twist in the film. Twice. Not only does it blatantly tell you that Richard Gere is Cassius, but it also shows him as the murderer in the first fifteen seconds. This is another trailer to a movie on this list I haven't seen, and now certainly don't want to. Any kind of interest that might have been initially drummed up was all but deflated within a matter of mere seconds. How many times do I have to say it? Stop giving away crucial plot details in your trailers! Give the audiences a little more credit here guys! We're smart enough to connect the dots watching the movie. We don't need to be spoon-fed everything that happens before watching it. Somebody seriously needs to get fired after thinking this was the best and most logical approach.

13. The Sum Of All Fears (2002)

Why It Spoils The Movie: The whole big thing about the movie is whether or not the bomb is going to go off or not. Will Jack Ryan stop it from going off and saving the world? Will Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman be able to work together before Armageddon strikes the doomsday clock? Will these two guys manage to stop it in time? Well, this trailer just conveniently gives that all away halfway through. All tension and suspense that should be involved while watching a Tom Clancy story on screen is all but evaporated with this trailer. Then it goes on and on about terrorists and stuff. They really could have done a much better job with this one, that's for sure. There's just no part of this trailer that works at all. By comparison, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit did a far better job of marketing their Clancy hero in a film. It set up the cast of characters and the basic plot, but it didn't end up giving away any of the really crucial information because it was all saved for the actual film. It's just too bad the guys who put together that trailer couldn't have done the same thing twelve years ago.

12. Carrie (2013)

Why It Spoils The Movie: If you've already seen Brian DePalma's 1976 version of the film or read Stephen King's original novel, then it's not necessarily a spoiler, but for those who haven't seen it or read the book and are just going into the remake blind, don't watch this trailer. If you do, then you'll have basically just seen the entire film all rolled up into two and a half minutes. The classic prom scene and subsequent bloody massacre is showcased in all its violent glory, which is a real shame. Like many trailers, the prom scene that's the most iconic part of the film is spoiled to "create interest" in watching it. Ironically, that tactic does the exact opposite. Believe it or not, but showing the big climax of the film is doing a disservice to the filmmakers, the studio and the audience. Better idea, don't show it and just set up for it. That would actually be interesting, believe it or not.

11. The Last House On The Left (2009)

Why It Spoils The Movie: The trailer sets up the inciting incident where Sarah Paxton is raped and left for dead and the fact that the perpetrators ironically find refuge in the house of her parents. Then halfway through it's revealed that she's still alive and makes her way back home, but it doesn't stop there. The trailer gives away they try to kill her again and her parents strike back. The trailer even shows the very last scene of the movie where Garret Dillahunt is paralyzed and has his head placed in the microwave, ready to explode. Would you please stop putting in the last scene of the movie in your trailers? Please? Instead of giving all of this very pertinent information away, why not do it in a far more restrained fashion? Set up the inciting incident, have the perps find their way to the titular house and then realize whose house it is. Then with the last twenty seconds or so just show a series of quick flashes of the action scenes to pique interest and end on a good tagline. At least do something that doesn't just sully the actual experience of watching this movie.

10. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Why It Spoils The Movie (Briefly NSFW): From Dusk Till Dawn is arguably one of the greatest examples of a film doing a complete one-eighty half way through. Those watching the film without ever having seen the trailer would go into the film being completely surprised to find that it turns from a "heist-road movie" to a vampire action flick with a snap of the fingers. The film is directed by Robert Rodriguez, so naturally there's a lot of fun over-the-top action to be had, which the second half totally delivers. It's just too bad the trailer had to give that away. By comparison, there's another trailer for the film and it does the exact same thing as this one but without the spoilers. The other trailer sets up the story of the Gecko Brothers, that there's fighting and Harvey Keitel is in it and that's it. Sign me up for that movie, because that looks awesome. Then when the vampires actually do show up, it would be all so wonderfully shocking now, wouldn't it?

9. Quarantine (2008)

Why It Spoils The Movie: The trailer for Quarantine isn't actually that bad for the most part. It's short in length and yet not on mood or atmosphere. The film is a remake of the absolutely terrifying [Rec] has its merits here and there. Of course the original is better than the remake because that's what tends to be the case more often than not. The film is simple in its execution, just like the trailer. It's actually intriguing and makes me want to watch it. It's just too bad that it ruins the ending by showing the very last shot where Jennifer Carpenter gets dragged away into the darkness. I'm almost ready to just throw my hands in the air and give up completely on these people. When will they learn to stop putting the last shot of the movie in the trailer, thereby giving away the ending? Not anytime soon by the looks at some of these other trailers on the list.

8. The Island (2005)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Never mind the fact that this schlock was directed by Michael Bay, the trailer for The Island looked great until it spoiled the biggest plot point in the film. The trailer on its own terms is actually pretty interesting with its futuristic setting, general intrigue and Scarlett Johansson. Then we find out that the titular island isn't real, that they're all just clones and part of this great conspiracy. I have a crazy idea and if it's really that bad, stop me right now, but at least hear me out. Why don't studios release one trailer (and yes I mean just one) that's nothing more than a teaser trailer and that be it? Very little of the plot is shown, and if the teaser does manage to attract some initial curiosity and eventual attention, then the trailer did its job just fine. If it doesn't grab certain people then it just doesn't grab them. That way the people who would go in would go in intrigued and unspoiled. How much better would this movie have been had we not known this big plot twist before going in? Well, at least slightly better anyway.

7. Funny People (2009)

Why It Spoils The Movie: At 153 minutes long, Funny People was about thirty minutes too long. For no discernible reason this trailer is three and a half minutes long and should have only been two. Why? Well because it shows basically everything about the lengthy film in its own lengthy runtime. A lot of the best jokes are given away here like all of the back and forth between Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman. A few jokes are fun, but this one overdoes it, especially at the end. The chief sin being committed here however is showing that Adam Sandler beats the cancer. In the second half of this trailer and the film, he's trying to live his life the best way he can now that he's been given more or less a second chance. Then they introduce Eric Bana as the jerk, and they get into a fight because of course everyone just wants to have the climax of the film ruined for them. Wouldn't it have been great to have had absolutely no idea whether or not he was going to survive when you watched it for the first time? Yes, it most certainly would have.

6. Cast Away (2000)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Oh, so Tom Hanks does get off the island? Well I'm glad we all know that now. All the trailer had to do was show us that he crashes on the island and has to survive. If the marketing team felt so inclined, they could also show a handful of aspects detailing the trials and tribulations of Hanks' solitary ordeal. That's all that the trailer had to do, and nothing more. The correct way to market this very film is on Hanks' star wattage alone. He's one of the most charismatic actors still working today. Everybody loves the guy and deservedly so. So the way to market this film is to just focus on him being stuck on the island and nothing else. Not only does the trailer tell us he gets saved, but also that he was gone for four years, he reconnects with his wife and also has the last shot of him standing at the crossroads. Seriously people! Stop putting in the last part of the movie in your trailers! Just stop it!

5. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Disregarding the fact that the third Spidey flick does a terrible retconning of its filmic universe in regards to the death of Uncle Ben, it didn't need broadcasting in the trailer. Regardless of what viewers thought of the twist in context of the story, they should have at least kept the surprise for when people actually watched the film. It doesn't matter what you thought of the twist in Iron Man 3, at least they didn't spoil it in the trailer. But let's not stop there, because why would we? Let's also show Harry as Green Goblin 2.0, and show him comatose on a stretcher just to up the stakes. Wait, there's more! Peter will get taken over by the black symbiote as well and become Dark Spider-Man and change his personality. The greatest battle is within? No the greatest battle is trying to stop idiots from making terribly edited trailers that spoil everything. That's the greatest battle by a landslide.

4. Terminator Salvation (2009)

Why It Spoils The Movie: Sam Worthington's character is the catalyst for much of Terminator Salvation, because he's "the key to all of this" as a cyborg that thinks he's human. But they wouldn't be happy just giving out that little detail just once. No, they have to do it twice. Yes, he's a cyborg, we got it the first time. The fact that this trailer showcases this throughout much of its runtime is frankly disappointing. Had the trailer kept this detail out of the proceedings, then the reveal of his character would have actually been surprising and fun. The film still would have sucked mind you, but it could have used at least one clever trick up its sleeve. To be honest, this is actually a pretty cool trailer. It sets up the characters and the universe quite well and the song choice totally works. For all intents and purposes, this trailer is actually pretty cool, which is why the spoiler is ultimately so disappointing.

3. Brothers (2009)

Why It Spoils The Movie: The trailer did a great job of setting up the story and characters, until it was revealed that Tobey Maguire is still alive. Not only that, but it also shows the unease he has with his brother and that he goes ultimately crazy. Of course they just had to show the climax of the film when he goes full "Crazy Tobey" with the cops around. Once again, a film has fallen prey to idiots who not only give away the big twist, but also the climax. There's simply no room whatsoever for imagination left on this one. Want a trailer that shows the film beat by beat? This is it. A similar movie to Brothers would be Pearl Harbor. Both films involve a character going off to war and supposedly dying, while they other two shack up. Then the supposedly dead character comes back and things get awkward. That being said, the trailer for Pearl Harbor tells no story about its characters, doesn't have any spoilers and is actually intriguing. It's ironic because while Brothers is a far better movie than Pearl Harbor, the opposite is true of their respective trailers.

2. Warrior (2011)

Why It Spoils The Movie: If that one line from the announcer saying "that the two finalists competing are brothers" was removed and it didn't show the beginning of the climax, then this trailer would be just fine. With its unique approach to having two main characters competing that are brothers, one can assume that they'll fight each other at the end of the film. Despite that being the educated guess, this trailer really didn't need to spell it out for audiences. Warrior is a great movie with two amazing performances from Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy. That's the movie in a nutshell. People went to see the film for those two actors and in doing so, was the only thing that the film should have marketed. Deep down we do know they'll probably fight each other in the finals, but maybe not. With this trailer we know they will for sure, so that makes the rest of the movie less interesting because we already know the outcome for both fighters. To top it all off, the DVD cover totally gives away the ending of the film.

1. Dream House (2011)

Why It Spoils The Movie: So Daniel Craig is crazy and his family is probably all dead? Well I'm glad we all know that half way through. This trailer is just unfathomably awful the way it shows all of the important plot points throughout the film. Any mystery or intrigue that the premise might have cooked up is all but deflated when every plot twist in the film is just flat out said to the point that it's hilarious. The first time I watched this trailer I burst out in laughter at how terribly put together it all was. I honestly couldn't believe that they intentionally used this trailer to market their film. It's just so badly done in every way. Then again I suppose this trailer is rather fitting for the movie, considering it's hilariously awful as well. Poor Jim Sheridan, first he directed Brothers and they spoiled that trailer. Then two years later and he directs Dream House, only to have the exact same thing happen.


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