There was a time when viewing trailers brought great joy into my life. I was a trailer whore. I’d watch them all the time. What better way to kill a few minutes than to get a brief glimpse of what was coming to theaters over the next few weeks. Then, things changed. It wasn’t me, trailers, it was you. You got selfish. You let yourself go. I don’t even recognize you anymore.
The trailer game has seemingly changed over the years, in two big ways, both of which I find disagreeable to say the least. Perhaps this first aspect should be for a separate column, but trailers give away far too much. Trimming it down could definitely remove some of this excess information. I mean, who really wants to know who lives and dies before they walk into the movie? Who wants to know every little detail? The most recent trailer for Paranormal Activity 2 straight up shows a freaking ghost in it. Like, legitimately, just a scene of a ghost standing behind someone. Why would you put that in the trailer?
My major gripe these days is trailer length. Back in my days of trailer enjoyment, in five minutes I could watch two trailers and be well into a third. Today, I’m lucky if Due Date has stopped playing. I mean, damn. Save something for the big screen. Or the main feature if we’re watching this actually in a theater.
A trailer should be a warm introduction to a film, not an explanation of it. Give us the basic info, the basic premise. Show us who might be in and what kind of journey we’re going to take. Don’t show us who gets killed, don’t show us the coolest bits, and don’t blow all your funniest jokes. Less is more.
These days you sit in the theater and you’ve got like five or six trailers to burn through. That’s a lot to begin with even when they used to average like 90 seconds. Now, a trailer runs between three and five minutes. You show up and sit down for your 10:30pm showing and the movie doesn’t even start until 10:50. What do you have to show for it? Probably one movie that was mostly spoiled for you and one that made you want to punch yourself in the face before it was over.
In this day and age, if we want to watch trailers, we can go online. Sure, it’s fun to watch them in theaters – when you keep the time down. If you feel like you must craft a four minute long Due Date trailer, put it on the internet. That’s fine, I can ignore it there.
You’re doing the movie a disservice. If you slip just one more joke in there, that doesn’t mean we’re going to want to see it more. It’s just one less joke we laugh at in the movie, because we knew it was coming.
So trim your trailers, Hollywood. Let’s get this under control. We’re all busy people. We don’t have the time to waste before the movie starts (okay, we do) and we don’t want to know every joke, every twist, and every turn before seeing the movie. Cut it down and leave us a few surprises in the theaters. Kind of like how a lot of people say how much they enjoy a movie after they walk into it with absolutely no foreknowledge. Well, cut down the trailer and give us a little taste of that from time to time. All I know is when I settle in for a two hour movie and find a half dozen four minute long trailers, once I wake up from my boredom-induced nap I’m well past my boiling point.