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Trial and Trailer: The Perils of Publicity in the Internet Era

It is a cliché to suggest that trailers are spoiling movies.

Clint Eastwood was complaining about the trend more than a decade and a half ago, lamenting, “Half the time you go and watch a film, you see eight or 10 different trailers and you’ve seen the whole plot line. There’s really no reason to go see the film.” While film fans might look back nostalgically on classic trailers like Alien or Point Blank, the truth is that movie trailers have always been a bit of a haphazard artform. The trailer for Carrie is as spoilery as any modern trailer.

At the same time, there is a definite trend in contemporary trailers – especially for big blockbuster releases – to ensure that the audience knows exactly what they are going to get. This is most obvious in trailers like Alien: Covenant or Spider-Man: Homecoming, which go beyond spoiling the entire plot thread to spoiling big moments from the film; memorable cameos or distinctive sequences. When dealing with spectacle driven films like Kong: Skull Island, there is a conscious effort to load the trailer with spectacle, revealing monsters and set pieces.

To be fair, this is arguably more of a problem with big budget summer releases. These trailers typically belong to blockbusters that have to absolutely saturate the market in order to build hype, releasing trailers more than a half a year before release or even offering trailers for trailers. It is inevitable that this desire to effectively carpet-bomb the media landscape with footage will reveal far too much about the film in question, particularly for those who task themselves with keeping track of this information. The sparse understated trailers for smaller films like Get Out are a blessing.

It is interesting to wonder what drives these creative decisions, why studios are saturating the market with trailers that seem to lay out every beat ahead of time and which effectively promise every twist that will be delivered over the course of the narrative. There is a lot to be said for the joy of seeing a film blind, without knowing exactly what is coming and how it will be delivered. It seems reasonable to argue that the job of a trailer is to tease, to offer the viewer a hint of what is in store, instead of mapping out how they might spend two hours of their lives.

However, while these views are quite common on the internet and among film fans, it is interesting to wonder whether they reflect the opinions and taste of the mass audience. Is this increasing tendency towards spoiler-heavy trailers that plot out the entire arc of a film are driven by the tastes of audiences? Is this how the majority of viewers want their entertainment delivered, even if they would never frame it in those terms?

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Can a Good Talent Be Over-Exposed?

Jeremy Renner is having a good year. Recently confirmed to take over from Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, offered the job of taking over from Matt Damon in the Bourne series, playing Hawkeye in both Thor and The Avengers, and starring in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, it seems that Renner is on the cusp of being huge. And, for those of us who have noted Renner’s performances in films like The Town and The Hurt Locker, it’s surely well-deserved. However, can Renner be over-exposed?

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Where’s Your Head At? Floating Head Syndrome & Movie Posters

Iron Man 2 has had a fairly spectacular pre-release buzz going on. It’s the sequel to a beloved film, it’s got an all-star cast and two spectacular trailers. So the movie poster should be made of awesome, right? Em, not really. The first question which occurred to me was “where is Sam Rockwell?” The second question that occurred to me was “where is everyone else’s body?” Yes, the poster had succumbed to the dreaded floating head syndrome.

Should Tony Stark be more worried that Mickey Rourke is trying to kill him or that the lower half of his body has phased out of existence?

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Does Hype Ruin Good Films?

So, how was Avatar Day for you?

The word so far has been a resounding ‘meh‘, but still a somewhat enthusiastic one. Still, it’s nothing compared to the hype that has built up around the movie. A ‘game changer’, Avatar was rumoured to redefine movies themselves – ushering in the golden era of three-dimensional filmmaking. How does a film live up to that hype? In fairness, most of the comments on the preview footage have been relatively positive, but most seem a little disappointed. So, has the Hollywood hype machine spoiled a perfectly good movie?

Is James Cameron still king of the world?

Is James Cameron still king of the world?

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