Sunday, April 25, 2010

Film Trailer Analysis


I recall as a kid sitting next to my father watching TV. Every few minutes or so a new film trailer would come along, and we would both sit there curiously observing the images displayed. Afterwords my dad would always be sure to mention something about the trailer. In essence, what he was doing was reviewing the trailer's ability to sell him the movie.... or rather just pointing out his opinion.

As I've blogged more and more I've noticed many, if not a vast majority, of us approach trailers in very similar ways. After the trailer is done we categorize the film into a grouping of how likely the film is to appeal to us. I, obviously, can't speak for everyone, but, I've noticed over the past few years the various levels I have for a trailer's ability to sell me their movie.

Perhaps it's amusing that often times trailers, especially recently, reflect very little about the quality of a movie. Let's be honest how many times can we see the same action trailer: a sequence of explosions followed by several loud thumping sounds and random images. Apparently a lot, but that's besides the point. What I find most fascinating is our way of taking away from the trailer.

The system I most often notice is what I'll call the viewing tier system:

Tier 1: Opening Weekend

Tier 2: Eventual Theater Viewing

Tier 3: Cheapo Theater Viewing (aka the Uni Special)

Tier 4: Video/DVD Rental

Tier 5: HBO/Showtime/etc. Cable Viewing

Tier 6: Network/Basic Cable viewing

Tier 7: Never Viewing

Now for most of us these are interchangeable (and several completely removable), but I find it curious just how often these appear in the way people talk about movies before their full release. I wonder how these came to be? What made us over time develop them as a way of organizing our opinion on a movie before we see them?

One way I suppose is our way of assigning a value to the movie based on its trailer/early conversations. We give it the good ol' "worth the price of admission" perspective, and nail down our opinion to a willing dollar amount. A sort of risk assessment if you will. Overall though, it's a system I have to say I approve of. Mostly because there's a lot of room for leeway. A movie can move up and down your tiers as reviews, public opinion, etc. come in. Though, there's no perfect system.

So, I wonder. Do you adapt the viewing tier system? Or how do you evaluate the trailers you see?

5 better thoughts:

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I used to use a rating system like that for films - after I had seen them as a sort of 'star' method. Oddly, it's kinda mute because at that point it was after you've seen it.

Trailers are often what makes the film get a pass or go for me on if I'm going to see it, although a director, actor or theme might make me interested enough to see a film that I don't need to see a trailer. But, a trailer sure can set the tone of the film that you might not get through other marketing, although as you've mentioned it might not be accurate.

My biggest issue with trailers if that they show too much. I don't think any trailer should show stuff near the end of a film, or any reveals and so many do. I much prefer trailers that are images & music with little dialogue - they can really rock without giving too much away.

Simon said...

Univarn's From Planet 9?

I'm usually going by early reviews of a movie, because trailers tend to missell it. Also, I hate when they give away the whole plot, such as with 'The Killer Inside Me'.

Castor said...

I don't trust trailers all that much and rely more on words of mouth and possibly reading some of the script if I can get my hands on them. First of all, as Shannon said, trailer show too much! Also, half the time, they are misleading and make you believe you are going to see one thing only to show something significantly different.

Univarn said...

@Shannon That's true, especially like last year's Brothers. The trailer was the entire final 30 minutes!

@Simon What's wrong with Univarn's From Planet 9!? You'd watch the movie and you'd like it!

@Castor It's true, but I think trailers have become way too streamlined as well. Especially action movies:

Cut *thump sound* boom *thump sound* yelling *thump sound* boom etc.

Robert said...

I think that even if I didn't want it to, trailers would still have a huge influence on whether or not I would see the film and then if so, if I want to see it in theaters or on DVD or what have you.

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