I spent this morning watching trailers for a zillion movies and TV shows. I did it because a certain transforming robot movie trailer intrigued me. I’ve been pretty public about my dislike for the “Transformers” films. Please don’t get mad. If you love them — and clearly a whole heck of a lot of you do — that’s totally cool. I love things that lots of other people don’t.
But today I wanted to talk about trailers.
I remember staying up all night for the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer and unabashedly crying when I saw it. Same for the one they showed at the fan convention Star Wars Celebration. It grabbed me, it gave me a reason to care and it didn’t give away the plot.
We used to get one trailer, with a cheesy voice-over. Now we have trailer announcements, video trailers for a trailer, teaser trailers and several actual trailers, along with featurettes and more. It’s too much. I mean, sometimes they’re great. Sometimes they suck. Mostly they give away too much of the film. I’m looking at you, “Terminator Genisys.” I get that you were trying to hook us with the best stuff in the film, but if I’ve pretty much seen it all in the trailer, why should I give you my money?
Though “Suicide Squad” wasn’t my jam, the trailers for the film totally hooked me. I got an intriguing look at the characters and the imagery, without the story being given away. I feel the same way about the trailer for the TV show adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book “American Gods.” I have a pretty strong feeling that I’m going to love that show, but what I got from the trailer didn’t give anything away. It let me know that I’m going to see important moments from the book, it showed me that the diversity of casting was pretty darn cool and it revealed that the actors would be compelling. It teased and it did that well.
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Here’s what I want in my trailers: I want to know why I should care about the people I’m about to spend time with. I want to know how the film is going to look and feel. I want to get an idea of the film’s genre. I want to be teased with a story. What I do not want is the big reveal, the entire plot, whether or not the main leads hook up or anything that tells me how it’s all going to go down.
There is an art to teasing. Give us a wink, not a big, sloppy kiss.