In the early days of movie theaters and nickelodeons, owners faced some serious problems besides the lingering odor of tobacco.
While the theaters screened multiple mostly short movies, the audience paid for admission only and not per picture.
This meant that a lot of patrons would wander in during midday and stick around until night fell, limiting the number of new admission tickets that could be sold.
The owners and distributors hit upon the idea of creating short clips from the upcoming features and screening them between the features themselves.
This was a way to both promote the movies and more importantly to clear some of the audience from the hall by interrupting their personal movie marathon.
These short clip collections were called ‘trailers’ because initially they trailed after the feature film.
When cinemas switched to pay per movie the name stuck while the order was reversed; audiences would not stick around when the movie finished they would walk out instead of checking out the upcoming features.
With the appearance of VHS and later DVD they have hung around, giving us time to go to the bathroom or grab something from the fridge.
But with the coming of the internet revolution they are no longer playing to a captive audience; instead they are prospering like never before.
This month as ‘THE DARK KNIGHT RISES’ is set to be released following an unprecedented number of trailer views, I will try to explain why I have stopped watching trailers and why I believe you might want to do the same.
Trailers are basically commercials for an upcoming movie and commercials as a whole are bad news, as they are made by experts at manipulating the mind into wanting things.
A trailer is a marketing tool that’s designed to make the target audience want to see the movie; it is not produced to entertain you or inform you but to influence you into watching it.
Trailers are made to create the desire with the actual movie as the promised satisfaction.
Willfully subjecting yourself to a form of manipulation is in my humble opinion a mistake.
Any terrible movie can have a fantastic trailer.
Take any full-length movie, trim it down to the most exciting 2 minutes, make quick cuts and add the right music and voice-over and you can make it appear to be exciting and promising.
You can even make a movie seem to be a totally different kind of movie.
We find this re-cut trailer of Mary Poppins as a horror movie a novel idea, but is it that different than the regular ones?
Trailers contain scenes, music and sometimes characters not in the actual movie.
While this is not a very common occurrence, it is very annoying.
Trailers are produced before the movie receives the final cut and edits are made but I think it’s still a clear case of misinformation.
It seems that there are no laws about the relationship between trailers and the actual movie they promote.
Trailers can diminish your enjoyment of the movie.
By the time you are sitting in the theater you will already know some of the best jokes and they probably won’t be as funny the second or fifth time you hear them.
The visuals and effects you have already seen will not be as surprising or stunning; and you will already know some of the best dialogue and what characters look like.
Trailers create spoilers by elimination.
One of the things I do when watching a movie on my TV or PC is to eliminate any indication of the time that’s passed since the beginning, or remaining till the end.
If for example you are watching an action movie and your DVD player indicates that there are only 5 minutes remaining, then you know for sure you have only the last showdown left.
In similar fashion, if you are watching a movie after watching its trailer, your mind will start filling in the gaps thereby creating spoilers that will be detrimental to your enjoyment.
By this point you are probably thinking “So Mr Smartypants, how should I decide which movies to watch?”
The best method IMHO is to use a combination of word of mouth from people and blogs whose taste in movies you mostly agree with and an aggregated online movie rating website like IMDB.com and Metacritic.
No method is infallible and you will be disappointed from time to time but nowhere near as often as if you based your decision on the trailer.
More importantly, your enjoyment of the movies will be increased, as you can judge them on their own as they should be judged and all the sights and sounds will be new and wondrous to you.
Oh and by the way, I lied about not watching trailers; I sometimes watch them after I’ve watched the movie.
Here is an amazing trailer for one of the best movies of the millennium.