Movie Trailers: The Good, The Bad…and the Annoying Voice-Over

22 01 2010

I love movie trailers.  I’ll spend several minutes out of my day, catching up on the newest trailer releases.  I make sure I’ve arrived early to the movie theatre, I’ve gone to the bathroom, and I’ve already purchased my popcorn before the trailers start (sometimes the trailers are better than the movie).

Some trailers are awesome (the “Breathing” trailer for Episode II: Attack of the Clones is one of the best – still gives me goosebumps!).  Some are not so awesome.  The ones that aren’t awesome tend to give away the entire story, even the ending.  While I appreciate that the studio just saved me $7 on a movie ticket, I may have actually wanted to go to the theatre to watch it…at the very least, rent it on DVD.

So what makes a good trailer?

  • Brevity.  Keep it short; show me the scenes or clips that are going to make me want to pay money to see the movie.  That doesn’t mean show me all the cards…I still want to be surprised, so keep the ace in the hole.
  • Show don’t tell.  Voice-overs are often unnecessary and sometimes give away too much info.  Let the scenes speak for themselves.
  • Leave me wanting more.  Don’t answer all the questions…in fact, leave me asking more!  If I think I have it figured out, why would I pay money to see it?
  • Good music.  Trailers are notorious for using stock music.  If a trailer has a great song or background sound that really complements the images, it can make all the difference.

Some of the worst trailers out there right now?  Leap Year and Letters to Juliet.  While these movies might be decent chick-flicks, the trailers give away the entire plot, while managing to play to every rom-com stereotype ever created.  The best trailer out right now?  Christopher Nolan’s Inception.  No voice-over.  A bone-rattling, repeating bass note.  And a ton of unanswered questions (most people don’t even know what the movie is about).  Watch the Inception trailer below.

What do you think?  What makes a good trailer?  What are some of your favorite/least favorite movie trailers?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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4 responses

25 01 2010
Todd Dickinson

The images / footage in ‘The Hurt Locker’ were incredible. I drove an hour to see the movie based on the trailer. It appeared more like a documentary than a movie – so much so that I could not believe that the main character was an actor.

A related topic is when they use the best scene cuts in the trailers. There are so many examples of that.

25 01 2010
Dustin

I just rented The Hurt Locker…glad you liked it, I’m excited to watch it! I agree, using some of the best images from the film in the trailer is a nice way to get people to say “wow, I wanna see that,” but sometimes, after you’ve seen the film, you feel like you’ve seen all the best parts already!

26 01 2010
Katie

Right now? Dear John. It makes me tear up evertime i see it. It’s the stupid song they use, and the clips they take from the movie…and probably the fact that it mirrors my relationship to almost eerie degree.

But in the non-chick flick category I really like the previews for the new Alice in Wonderland. Great mix of clips that show the movie (plot-wise) and just some of the quirkiness (like when she says something about like warm pig belly for her aching feet.) It just makes me really excited to see. it.

26 01 2010
Dustin

Agreed! I think the Alice in Wonderland trailer does a great job of showing the movie’s potential, without giving everything away…can’t wait to see it!

And yes, the song they have in the Dear John trailer definitely pulls on the heart strings!

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