A couple of weeks back, “The Miracle Season” shared the story of a high school volleyball team that had to rally after the tragic death of their teenage captain. Pretty good concept for a movie, but the trailer explained away 90 percent of the story. Granted, the title “Miracle Season” made things pretty obvious going in, but any twists of the plot fell flat because you already knew where the team was headed.
The trailer for the 2016 “Divergent” sequel “Allegiant” was even worse.
In the first minute or so, we learn that the heroine is going to meet a new ally played by Jeff Daniels. A minute later, we see that Daniels is really going to turn out to be a bad guy. The film’s major twist was in the trailer. Now, I don’t think the trailer was to blame for the series flaming out after only completing three of four planned films, but it sure didn’t help.
It’s not just a matter of giving away key plot points, either. Remember that moment in the “Jurassic World” trailer when the shark gets dangled over the tank in front of the crowd? How much more fun would it have been to see that moment in the movie itself?
I get it. Trailers are there because studios are spending millions of dollars on these movies and they have to do everything they can to fill the seats. Makes sense. I’m not advocating the elimination of trailers altogether. I just think they could be a lot more discreet and still get the job done. Most of the time, what we see in a “teaser” trailer is more than enough (take the new spot for “Incredibles 2” for example).
I also completely understand how fun it can be to get a taste of a movie you’re excited to see. Part of what inspired this column was the release of the new “Solo: A Star Wars Story” trailer, which I am desperately trying to avoid. (If you’re not, you can watch it here.) But the emphasis is on the word “taste.” A good trailer should set up the primary conflict, then leave viewers wanting more.
Overly informative trailers could be the audience’s fault — maybe we’re just too greedy these days. Movies like “Avengers: Infinity War” don’t really need multiple trailers to ensure their delicate financial straits. Does anyone think that no one would turn out on opening weekend to see the Avengers in action if all they had leading up to it was a single 60-second teaser? Of course not. Marvel has been teasing this movie since 2012. But every one of the trailers they’ve released have helped appease the nerd rage of impatient fans who want to pick everything apart before they actually get around to seeing the movie.
One of my favorite movies of 2013 was a little indie flick called “The Way Way Back.” When I sat down to see it, I didn’t know anything about it other than its name. I had the same experience with “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” a couple of years later. I have to say: That’s a fun way to see a movie.
Granted, going to a movie you know nothing about is a lot easier to justify when you don’t have to buy a ticket, but just think about all your favorite movies that you’d love to see fresh again for the first time — and then think about all your future favorites that are coming down the pike in the next few years. You’ll enjoy them a lot more if you skip the trailers.