Trailers date back as early as 1913 and were popularised in the 60’s by Hollywood teasers on TV. One front runner (and it comes as no surprise) was trend-setter Stanley Kubrick with his montage trailers including Lolita and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
To think trailers were usually showed in cinema after the credits, it’s easy to see why this didn’t last long. The thing is these days we know too much before we even sit on our seats in the cinema or insert that shiny disc. With barrage of TV spots, teaser-trailers, official trailers, video diaries, Internet snoops, blog posts and sites more often than not we know the in’s and out a year before it’s gets to the big screen. As oppose to once upon a time not so long ago when we’d have to wait over a year for a film to hit Video, or two years for cable and maybe forever for it to reach terrestrial TV if ever.
I recently watched the first episode of the second series (season) of ‘V’ and in the final moments an incarnation of one of TV’s best villains appears… Jane Badler’s character Diana. (Now I may have just spoilt it for someone!) see what I mean. Now if I had read it or caught a whiff on the net, it would have ruined for for me. The same reason as I thought it neat when Charlie Sheen cameos in Wall Street 2, Sean Connery appearing at the end of Robin Hood and Ed Norton being in Kingdom of Heaven. The problem is this, these publications can give a lot away, all just it takes is a photo or a sentence. The same can be said for magazines featuring soaps and show’s etc. As Grandpa said in The Lost Boys,”…Read the T.V. Guide, you don’t need a T.V.” Never a truer word spoken.
The ‘industry’ ‘leaks’ things left right and centre, the the amount money spent on consumer research is nobody’s business and is also why we get sheep-like droves of films that have no substance because they are designed like fast-food with no substance but to temporarily appease the masses. I like a cheeky burger as much as the next but at least some-like to put flare into their public communications, even to have some kind of morale, if not clever creative ways to draw us in while not unmasking the whole film. The film Cloverfield showed very little, it’s advertisements tantalising and mysterious. Notably, Spider-Man’s trailer had an entire action sequence, Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s trailer featured an elaborate special effects scene both especially constructed and were never intended to appear in the theatrical release.
Maybe it should be made compulsory that only title cards and a 5 second clip are only shown but no doubt some bring spark will let the cat of of the bag. ‘Kevin Spacey is Keyser Söze.’ or ‘There is no Tyler Durden, The Narrator is one and the the same.’
On writing this I can understand Steven Spielburg reluctancy to record director commentaries, but it’s a case now of give the people what they want and I suppose the bottom line is you don’t have to listen the commentaries or watch the making of supplements, if you want to retain that movie magic. Personally I love a great making of, I remember a double video set of Total Recall with a 20 minute making of feature, I though it was the bee-knees. Little did I know in the future we’d have a thing called DVD and Blu-ray.
Possibly due to the internet and media hunger today’s Hollywood stars are too accessible and are endanger of loosing their mystic, their allure with endless appearances, twitter and the like. Even a frank biography can destroy a hero. One of the worst things I did was read an authorised biography of Al Pacino. It was my own fault, I wont say why but my preconceived ideas were smashed. But on the flip side ‘Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox’ solidified him for me.
The internet is killing off quality publications, the excitement of waiting a month has gone. Why pay a subscription eh or 4.99, just turn on the TV, PC, or smart phone. As Darth Vader would say, “All too easy”.
Like anything else as consumers we want it instantly and in the process we are in danger of destroying what we love. Yes it’s great to have a build up an anticipation, but in our hunger for more we’re distorting that excitement and surprise and are possibly short changing ourselves when you pay money for a ticket to be entertained. And that is why you and I are feeling let down by almost ever film we see. Most recently I caught Monsters expecting another War of the Worlds rehash, District 9, a grounded version of ID4, or even a better version of Skyline but what I got was a love story with aliens as the back drop. For a spilt second I was slightly disappointed and then I came to my senses and felt a little emotion and thought, I quite enjoyed that. Call it unintentional misdirection, a lack of research and/or avoiding marketing for the film, it was something that I didn’t expect.
There’s a reason I just browse over the back sleeve, don’t pay too my attention to trailers or turn off the TV before the teaser to the next episode…. It’s because I like surprises.