TRAILERS ON TRIAL
By Duck Kolenik
I don't envy the movie trailer makers in this town. Out of an average of 110 minutes of plot, they need to pluck, cut and splice together about 2 that clearly depict the logline. Success seems dubious at best. They need to weave the stickiest of webs to trap viewers’ curiosity enough that they’ll eventually buy a ticket to see the full story. Silk spinning is no joke. Just because you have spinnerets it doesn’t mean your web is trapping a fly. It’s all about the pattern and adhesion. Of course there is a basic effective formula, like in many artistic endeavors, but it’s not a template plug-in type situation.
I have seen many a movies I ended up loving that I didn’t initially even want to see, due to a trailer that painted a picture that was unappealing and inaccurate. I’ve also had the opposite happen, where I was highly attracted to a trailer and it was a complete misrepresentation of the movie. There should be an award, at the Golden Globes, perhaps, for achievements in dupes. Kudos to the person who made me actively want to see ‘Secret Window’ and ‘The Golden Compass’. Come on, I know I’m not the only one!
Trailers can gut movies or hoist them onto a pedestal. It really is an art. You have to say just enough, but not too much, leave enough lingering questions, but also answer a few along the way to build trust. Goldilocks anyone? She was quite spoiled, but not quite wrong in her quest. Nothing is worse than when you feel like you were forced to see the whole damn movie by the end of the trailer. It’s like when I got a text that Tony Soprano was dead, from a friend, before I saw the finale. I’d always rather know too little when it comes to entertainment. If I read about a film with a director, writer and/or actor I typically like, I rarely watch the trailer these days. Why take the risk?
Instead, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to go back through the archives and revisit the trailers of some of my favorite flicks. I opted for movies about epic adventures, with huge twists, ones based on beloved books and complex relationships. I then put these arduous trailer genres to the test. Now that you most likely know these films like old friends, it’s satisfying to watch the trailer and see how marvelously well-done they were.
See if you agree and what others you would add to the list!