Dear makers of movie trailers,
You are ruining the movie. Stop it.
There was once a time when I loved trailers. I would have gladly gone to a theater just to watch all the trailers they had if I could. That time has passed. I now avoid trailers. I look down instead of at the screen and am surprised by how much of a movie I can still figure out just from the seemingly endless amount of dialogue in your trailer.
Rule #1. This is the most important and should seriously be a trailer rule. Under 40 seconds. That’s it. If you can’t convince me to see something in 40 seconds, you’re not going to. And if you had me in those first 40 and you go on for 2 minutes more, I promise, I know your ending now. I’ve pretty much seen your movie.
Rule #2. Don’t put things in your trailer that aren’t in the movie. I realize there are likely different people working on these things and what you put in your trailer might have been cut from the final without you knowing. Stick to rule #1 and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding that.
Rule #3. Don’t tell us all your secrets before we get to our seats. I miss trailers! I really do! But I hate feeling like I’ve already seen the movie and I just don’t trust any of you to make a good trailer anymore, maybe because you don’t seem to trust yourselves to make a good movie. We know what you made, we know what it’s about and we’re going to see it.
There are only two reasons to have a trailer. Reason #1, to tell people that a movie is coming. And reason #2, to convince people that would otherwise not be interested, to watch your movie.
If the movie you’re making has a fan-base already, such as anything coming from DC or Marvel, Star Trek, Star Wars, or Jurassic Park, the primary trailer should always be a mystery. Stop showing us everything! You’re just giving people material to complain about before I even get to buy my tickets and you’re taking away the excitement. The Jurassic World trailer, for example, should have been incredibly simple. Maybe the tune being played eerily on a piano followed by that T-Rex scream we’ve all learned to recognize and then a date. That’s it. Clean. Exciting.
If the movie is something new, something you think you need to explain in order to draw people in, give the feeling in the trailer. Give highlights but never linger long enough for me to know every twist. Or, better yet, make something completely different. Make a trailer that connects to your film but isn’t in your film. Get creative but stop thinking that a longer trailer, with all the plot twists and bits of the final scene, are a good idea.
In a world where just about everyone has an opinion about almost every movie out there, even the ones they haven’t seen, and are happy to share it over Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and review sites, can’t you at least keep your secrets a secret? At least until it’s in theaters?
Consider the 40 second rule, movie trailer makers. Maybe think about how much we like that suspense feeling. Maybe hide your endings and your twists so that we might be blown away.
Think about it. Because you’re making me wish I was late to the theater.