Trailers for trailers

I’ve loved movie trailers since my earliest days on the web. As a teenager, I would wait impatiently for postage-stamp-sized previews to download over dial-up. In college, Apple’s trailers site was a daily visit, despite its reliance on the clunky QuickTime player.

Now, decades later, I still adore trailers, but the medium and its surrounding tech have matured. Full HD trailers download almost instantly—even over my DSL connection. The average trailer’s quality has improved, too—it’s less a sloppy afterthought and more a carefully-planned salvo in a months-long marketing campaign.

One recent change to the medium sticks out. Many action-heavy trailers now begin with a stinger—a 4–5 second preview of the trailer’s most exciting scenes, stitched together with fast cuts and scored with a cacophony of rising sound effects. It’s literally a “trailer for the trailer”:

I don’t really understand this trend. “Nano-trailers” make sense on social media; quick cuts catch a user’s eye as she scrolls through Instagram. But why do studios tack nano-trailers onto the trailers themselves? Are viewers more likely to watch the entire preview if the pre-trailer piques their interest? Are we so attention-poor that we can’t wait for a two-minute trailer to slow-boil?

And what’s next? Where does this trend lead? Will we eventually see trailers for trailers for trailers? A half-second megaclip with 12 single-frame smash cuts, scored with a single BWWWWAAAAAP?

My head hurts. ■

  1. Film strip artwork courtesy of Vecteezy.
movies Uncategorized

Marketing mess

Listen, Peter Jackson. I get it. Why not stitch together your Hobbit promotional posters in Photoshop? It’s quicker, easier and (most importantly) cheaper than assembling your lead actors for an in-person studio session.

But if you’re going to piece together a digital composite, you’ve got to do a better job than this.

Aside from some heavy-handed color grading, nothing about this image makes me believe these actors are in the same hemisphere, let alone the same room.

The litany of offenses:

  • Every actor is staring in a different direction.
  • Bilbo looks like a two-dimensional overlay. Notice how his face casts shadows to the right (unlike every other character in the scene).
  • Thorin (far right) looks decidedly low-res (zoom in to check out his grainy muzzle).
  • Fíli (taking up the rear) has no cobwebs on his clothes.
  • Neither does Dwalin (just in front of him). In fact, of all the characters, Dwalin looks most out-of-place. He grins (everyone else appears über-serious). He swings his hammer at some invisible foe (everyone else awaits battle). He glares left (everyone else stares to the right). Finally, his hue, contrast, and edges don’t match the scene, making him stick out. Was Dwalin pasted in by a third-grader wielding safety scissors and a glue stick?

Let’s hope that Jackson & Company edit the upcoming film with more care than this trainwreck of a poster.