A few weeks ago I saw the 30 second teaser trailer for "Taken". All I really got out of it was:

  • Liam Neeson plays a dad who is some kind of former Secret Agent or Mr. Wolf.
  • His daughter get kidnapped by some bad guys
  • Liam is a stone cold badass and is gonna get medieval all over the kidnapper's asses.

That was it, but it was enough. My interest was piqued. I was ready to spend $10 to see the film in the theater instead of waiting for it to come to NetFlix. Good job marketing team. At least until yesterday, when I caught one of the other "full" trailers. Now, don't get me wrong. The movie still looked like something I'd like to see. The problem is I'm pretty sure I've now seen the entire movie. Or, at least all the key scenes and good parts. Now I definitely won't be seeing it in the theater. The studio spent extra money to turn me off from their film. This is nothing new. As the studios spend increasing amounts of money creating films, pressure to make sure they are hits grows. The marketing guys get the call and put more and more scenes out to try to grow interest to get more butts in seats. I expect that they have run the numbers and their math points to this strategy working. With my focus group of one, I can tell you that it backfires way more often than not.


Another side to this that I wonder about is how directors feel about so much of their films being broadcast before the are even released. If I were in their shoes it would piss me off. After spending a huge amount of time and energy to create a piece of art, I can't imagine any other possible reaction when you see some of the best parts being ripped out, slapped back together in a 3 minute montage and shown completely outside of their original context. Adding insult to injury, there are generally enough visual queues in the trailer so that when watching the film, you know exactly when you about to see the clip from the trailer. Instead of an audience reaction of: "Holy Shit! Did you SEE THAT!" You get: "Oh yeah, this is that cool part from the trailer I've seen thirty times. I wonder where I put my Twizzlers"


I would love to see movie marketing that only did a teaser trailer and then built the rest of the hype without showing any additional scenes. It seems like it would be fairly easy to shoot extra footage during principal filming that is specifically for commercials and marketing. You then get the best of both worlds. More insight into the story without spoiling of the actual film itself. For action films in particular, word of mouth marketing would become much more powerful. Instead of, "Oh, man! There was this awesome scene where he jumped on a helicopter! Here, check it out from the trailer." The last sentence would become "You HAVE to go see it!" Since I don't expect this change, I'll just do my best to avoid trailers for movies I really want to see. (If you have tried this yourself, you know it's much harder than it sounds.)