Instant gratification. The modernization of how we view and consume media. The ultra portability of our smartphones and tablets and Chromebooks, show us that our future lies deeply connected to the online world and no longer hardwired to a local drive. We have, and myself included, accepted the death of the big screen story.
Yeah, it’s true. I no longer find myself eager enough to watch the latest and greatest films in the cinema because they aren’t worth the time or effort. It’s not only the lack of innovative creators (aside from the few) but the way they are marketed and how much is known about them. There are a few films that remain strong in their beliefs, but they can afford to do that because they almost have a guaranteed fanbase to thrive upon.
We’re all looking at you, Disney, you clever mouse, you.
For the little guy, the small branded filmmakers, we cannot win over the masses and sometimes need to do some underground marketing that takes a lot of effort and time to execute. And this is where they put together some shit ass trailers.
But guess what? So do the bigger fanfare stuff — they will spill enough of the beans and reveal most of the beats to create an impression of what will be seen from the beginning to the end and that’s where they flash their cards. We can’t exactly see what the cards are, but we have the power of pausing to help us.
It’s all shit now. The only thing worth your time is books because there we only have the premise and tease and the intrigue built upon those who had a chance to read it ahead of us. And that, for me, is still strong to protect the ending.
For feature films, it’s like they are afraid they won’t be able to satisfy your need, so they fault and flash their naughty good bits to entice you to come in and show you a disappointing show of nothing.
Personally, I just hold onto a few trusted sources like the movies reviews of James Berardinelli at Reelviews and focusing on the filmmakers that I enjoy most. And if there is a trailer, I mostly get ahold of the teaser. Nowadays, I try to avoid even that because for a teaser… they show too much!
I don’t mind if they misdirect. Give the same atmospheric feel and give enough an impression of the heroes and villains involved and the genre at hand… but make it disjointed so that we cannot guess the final act. Or what about just focusing on the first 30 minutes? I know some European films do that at times and I think that is a great idea. Because shouldn’t a film hook you enough within the first five minutes? I think there is a quote out in the world that Steven Spielberg would say something like that. I know that Israel Horowitz says that, even for plays, it’s best to keep rewriting the first two minutes of a play so that it would explode off the page.
So, just showing the first moments of a story should be enough to grab the viewer and reel them in for the kill. A topic sentence of a paragraph. Nothing more required. I don’t need to see the conclusion just yet. Have faith.
And yet, these marketing teams still do it. I really really want to find out why they made that choice or who is ultimately doing this. For example, Matthew Vaughn mentions how he was completely displeased at how the trailers for Kingsman 2 showed Colin Firth and he “begged the studio not to reveal it” and yet it happened. So, it’s even out of the control of the goddamn director, so what the fuck!
I know this isn’t new stuff. I know it’s constantly mentioned each time a new trailer is posted on YouTube and the masses write their comments about their displeasure of how it shows too much or the rare times that it’s confusing enough to not know what the hell is going on. But when you do watch the film, and if you are a visual person, you are bound to recognize when there is something shown from the final act.
I don’t mind if they use B-footage or alternate takes to create their trailers.
Rogue One did that in parts.
Or, I wouldn’t mind if they went the Hitchcock way of cutting something completely unrelated but enough to draw you in the film. How cool would that be? Or going back to how I mention showing the first five minutes only. When they showed the prologue for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX theatres… that would be a good way to sell any potential movie that has a strong opening.
That’s the way to do it. That’s the way we should tease. Create enough of an impression so that we can fill in the blanks and create a sense of anticipation of what is to come.
ON THE FLIPSIDE:
Trailers are good to save your time from the shit movies. Because since it does show everything and create enough of an impression to guess the ending, you can save your money and time when you know that movie is a piece of rotten fruit that has been airbrushed to perfection.
A revealing trailer + social media + some good reviews from some sites = and you have pretty much seen the whole movie minus some visuals and some good guesswork.
Studios won’t like people like me because they want my ass in a chair but they can’t have it because my ass is in my own chair at home. They don’t care in the end because I’m the minority and there are people out there who will still gather up their hard earn cash and go out to get disappointed. I saw that because they will still leave the theatre complaining. Why do you support garbage if you know it’s going to be garbage? Perhaps it is the social thing or the general idea of finding something to fill the time.
And so, I don’t watch anything in the theatres anymore — unless it’s really really intriguing to go out and watch it on the big screen.
The fantastical spectacle. The larger than life story. The movies that worked so hard in creating an immersive experience for all. Only then, I will spend all out and get to a real IMAX theatre and let it suck me into that world.
Those are features are so rare nowadays and so I’ll stick to my 4.95-inch smartphone screen (I still use a Nexus 5) — something I thought I wouldn’t accept but now do because I simply don’t care if the filmmakers don’t really care for using good visual language to craft together their stories. They want talking heads and some quick edit cuts… sure, I’ll just give you my attention when I’m sitting on the crapper or snuggled up in my bed with my headphones on. That’s all I can afford to give you because carrying a good novel around town is more worth than your shitty attempt at making something so-called “cinematic.”