When it comes to movie trailers, are you getting too much information?

Tom Hanks will battle pirates in "Captain Phillips."  (From the Columbia studio trailer)

Tom Hanks will battle pirates in “Captain Phillips.” (From the Columbia studio trailer)

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in Shifty’s with some good friends waiting for the band Trainwreck to start playing.

The talk turned to movies. Movie trailers, to be more specific. And Steven T. Winston, noted bass player and singer around Syracuse whose main gig is with terrific roots band Los Blancos, had a beef.

He’s tired of getting too much, too soon. His wife, Jen Crisp, agreed. Steven T. put it this way. He doesn’t want the trailer to give away the gag. To illustrate, he brought up the “Hangover” franchise and the not-so-little matter that the trailer let slip the fact that the tiger belonged to Mike Tyson. Too important, he said.

I must agree.

I see many, many trailers these days in my role as the film blogger for the Syracuse New Times.

Before the start of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” this past weekend, I counted a half dozen. Twenty minutes worth of what’s-in-store.

On one hand, the trailers are a big help. They get me familiar with cast and characters, research for the weekly piece about movies opening in Syracuse that particular weekend.

On the other hand, I agree with Winston. Don’t tell me so much!

Take the upcoming film starring Tom Hanks as “Captain Phillips.” The push is on. I’ve seen the trailer every weekend for what seems like a half-dozen times, and the movie’s release date isn’t until Oct. 12.

I know they tweak, expand, contract, the trailer. And indeed, I feel like I know too much, about the pirates boarding the boat, the kidnap, the military response.

I still want to see it.

Winston says he and Crisp have solved the problem by timing their movie arrival more accurately to coincide with the start of the real movie.

I’ve yet to take that measure because I still feel like in my shoes, too much informaton is better than none at all.

What do you think about the ever-expanding movie trailer?

7 thoughts on “When it comes to movie trailers, are you getting too much information?

  1. Sorry to ramble on, I blame a rare morning cup of coffee, lol. Anyone old enough to remember the impact of the original Alien gets where I am coming from. The only images from the original ad campaign were a black background, with the green egg splitting open, and the words: “In space, no one can hear you scream”. You had to actually go the the theater to see what the beastie looked like, and they keep you waiting for it. THAT my friends is how you sell a movie! We were all dying to know what it was about. A far cry from lame modern horror pieces like “Drag Me To Hell”, where they show the main character losing the fight and getting dragged to hell IN THE ADS! Why not just reveal that Bruce Willis is already dead in The Sixth Sense commercials, or that the skinny lady is actually skinny dude Stephen Rae in The Crying Game? I think The Usual Suspects would have been much better if you knew who Kaiser was before it started, don’t you?


  2. Great conversation that night Mark, only out-shined by the AMAZING Mark Macri and Trainwreck! Another example I thought was one of the worst offenses, was the secondary push for the movie Sideways. A fantastic little character study, with two arcing story lines, one featuring the always great Sandra Oh. They give away one of the most important moments in the movie when they show her cracking Thomas Haden Church with the motorcycle helmet and screaming “You’re married?!?!?!” Not only is it one of the best payoffs of the film, it’s the scene that sets up the end of the story! Everything that follows occurs because of that moment when their sense of false reality on the trip is shattered, along with Tom’s nose. Knowing the end of that story line before walking into the theater is RIDICULOUS, and shows ZERO respect for the writers/directors, and the work being promoted. The Hangover is probably the single best example, because the entire point of the movie is exposition. They give you 90% of what happened to them in the trailer, and I think I am being conservative. Giving away all of those gags in the first wave of trailers was criminal, and made that movie far, far, less funny to anyone who saw the ads first. And don’t get me started on Prometheus, either. The first I heard of that movie was an 8 minute long form trailer in a theater. Virtually every major plot point was given away, and the same questions you had after seeing the trailer, remained after seeing the movie. I know I am being a whiner, but the trailer ruined that movie for me, and I so wish I had just put my fingers in my ears and gone lalalalalalalala.


    • What, my friend, is life without the opportunity to whine every now and then? You are dead-on about “Sideways” being a great character flick, as we discussed that night. I still think you’ve got to try to catch Paul Giamatti in quickly-gone sleeper “Duets,” too. Lastly, Mark Macri and Trainwreck gang were dynamite that night. The foundation from Lenny Milano and Creamo Liss can’t be beat, and Tim Boehert’s guitar was smoking. And I just love the nerve to go so deep into the book of The Dan. “Pretzel Logic” so perfect in a bar? Are you kidding me? Thanks for commenting.


  3. I agree.

    Far too often, if a film looks like it won’t do that well, they overload the trailer to hype interest, and then over kill the marketing. Clearly the element of surprise is removed because you’ve already seen the best shots.

    On the other side of the coin, even if a film is good, and expectations will be met, too much of the highlights are tossed into the trailers.

    A perfect example was The Life of Pi. Imagine how surprised you would have been if the shot of the whale breaching the surface of the ocean and sailing overhead had been OMITTED from the trailer.

    Tell Winston his plan will backfire if he tries it with a successful film – unless he doesn’t mind sitting in the second row.

    Yet so many folks are addicted to trailers. Just look how many posts, right here in the movie section on WordPress are just trailers.



    • Thanks for your thoughts, Just Me Mike. The delicate line between promotion and revelation is too often crossed in Trailerville. And, yes, nowadays I only want to sit in the raised level in stadium-seating theaters.


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