Spider-man, Batman and why I hate trailers

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the cinema (in a very nice leather seat) to watch the new Spider-man movie. I knew little about it because I’d avoided all hype, reviews and, especially, any trailers.

I hate trailers*.

So imagine my surprise when just before the film started the cinema showed a feature about the new Spider-man movie, with the actors talking about it while random scenes from the movie are shown.

Why did they do this?

I understand these people need to publicise their work but…but…I’d already paid to see their movie! And given that I’d paid to watch Spider-man, why the hell would I give a monkey’s *!&!%” about a Spider-man promo movie.

Not only is it unnecessary, it actively spoils the thing I’m about to watch.

This week I went to see the Dark Knight Rises. I’d been looking forward to this film for ages and had been very careful on twitter to avoid spoilers. I sat through the adverts and the trailers (did I mention I hate trailers) and then, just before the film started, they did exactly the same thing!

Is this some kind of new trend? Does somebody think this is actually a good idea? I accept that many of you will think I’m overreacting. I probably am. But I’m genuinely curious as to why they bothered to spend the money to make the promo.



* I never used to hate trailers. I’m sure that over the years they’ve got bigger, perhaps to balance out the slowly shrinking wagon wheels.

The thing is that these days I feel they show too much, giving away too many of the films precious jewels. The best lines, the best stunts and in the worst cases, the whole plot!

I’m especially picky about this. The directors and writers have carefully woven something together and I want to meet the characters in the originally intended context.

Also there’s the green car thing.

Let’s imagine that, in the trailer, I see a man jumping into a green car. Nothing too shocking there you might say. But now I know that until I see him jump into the car it’s very unlikely (Tarantino style timelines aside) that anything bad will happen to him.

He’s threatened with a knife? No suspense for me, he hasn’t got into the green car yet.

He’s racing out of a building before the bomb goes off. No suspense for me, he’s still not got into the green car.

So for me the word trailer is synonymous with spoiler. I know I’m a bit mad about this and I accept they need to exist. I just don’t like them.

14 responses to “Spider-man, Batman and why I hate trailers

  1. I don't hate trailers, but I do agree with you Peter that these days they show far too much, usually the best scenes – so that when you actually watch the movie you've already seen the best parts.

    I have yet to watch the new Batman Movie.

  2. Yes, yes, and yes! I've been annoyed too by these pretend chat show bits showing before the movie – they did it with the Avengers too. Quite why they need to advertise a film to an audience who is seeing the same film is beyond me!

    And as trailer making is now down to such a fine art that they make every film look like a masterpiece, they are very tiresome. I accept they want to try and sell each movie as well as they can but they could cut down the hubris and hyperbole!

    • Thanks for stopping by Jim. I'd forgotten that it happened with Avengers as well. Maybe I blocked out the memory!

  3. I love trailers. LOVE them. I really love good ones.

    I had no reservations watching any Dark Knight Rises pre-release material as Nolan was heavily involved, and I trusted the man to lead us down a spoiler-free path!

    I agree, though, that some poor trailers give too much away. In my experience, this tends to be for poor films of which I have little interest in anyway. The bigger(/better?) the film, the greater the talent of the director, the more considered the pre-release stuff tends to be, in my opinion. There are exceptions, of course (yes you, Zemeckis), but I found nothing to annoy/spoil me in any of the Dark Knight stuff.

    I do, however, have a problem with teaser trailers for trailers. What the hell? Too much. I'm looking at you, Prometheus.

    The adverts and the promos that are run before a film in the cinema are another matter. Like you say, having paid for the film, why do I want to watch a trailer for it? I remember sitting and waiting for 45 minutes before Quantum of Solace, including adverts for almost every brand featured in the film, most of which featured a sequence from the film itself. Ridiculous.

    Let's end on a good note. Trailers are cool. When they wet your appetite, when they tease you and tempt you, they are cool. When they give you a little taste of what is to come and (usually dramatically) enhance your enthusiasm, they are flippin' cool. When they show you just enough, but not quite enough, they are cool.

    Just don't show us Tom Hanks off the island.

    • That's terribly reasonable of you Jack! 😉

      Yes, some trailers in the right hands are cool. There I've said it! But a cool trailer is a rare thing in my opinion.

  4. I agree that a lot of trailers do give too much plot away (especially for chick flicks/romantic comedies for some reason, not that I see very many…), but as I said when we saw it I do think you take the "green car" analogy a bit too far…

    • Yeah I'd agree that the romantic comedies and the literary films are the worst for it. I freely admit I am a bit mad about this!

  5. I like trailers, but then I'm 'blessed' with a fairly rubbish memory. I just try and avoid trailers in the week or two beforehand and then I don't tend to remember the green car. (Although I do know what you mean, and a particularly bad trailer can clue you in too much, like everything that came out for Prometheus.)

    But the pre-movie interviews and clips before some films in the cinema (usually an advert for something else, like M&Ms, who have sponsored the film) do annoy me, for the reasons you have mentioned above. We need an adblock for life… 😉

    Strangely, when I watch a film on DVD or Blu-Ray at home, I usually like to watch the trailer after I've watched the film. I find it interesting. My girlfriend finds it an amusing and vaguely baffling habit… =)

    Interestingly, studios like to have key scenes finished early, because the cycle of the film means that the first trailer often comes out before everything is finished, particularly when it comes to CG elements. Which is one of the reasons that the early John Carter trailers where a little bland, the director hadn't allowed for this and they were restricted by the content that was available for them to make the trailer from. (Also the reason you'll get some scenes in a trailer which might not be in the finished film…)

  6. I don't hate trailers (except for the especially hateful ones, like when Castaway gave away Tom Hanks's character gets rescued). On the other hand, I know what you mean — I think. There seems to be this assumption out there that audiences want to know as much as possible about the film. Problem is, these promo things rarely tell you anything interesting about the film — they're often just actors recounting the plot from the point of view of the characters they played.

    There's also this assumption that anyone who likes films gets all caught up in the glamour and gossip. I once raved about a film I'd seen to a friend (the symbolism! the plot! the performances! the visual theme!), only for her to mention that one of the principals used to be married to another A-lister not even in the film. She got very confused when I asked her what the hell that had to do with what I was talking about. If she had wanted to change the topic, cool, but she didn't even know she was changing the topic, because Entertainment Tonight has taught her that gossip was "talking about film".

  7. I have not run into that business in the United States, Peter, but I would hate it if I did. I went on a persistent media blackout before Prometheus and Dark Knight Rises to avoid spoiling the scenes and plot arc. I realize explosions attract attention for advertisements, but damn it, if I see the bridge blow up, then I know how any scene with a bridge is going to end!

  8. That's really silly to do a promo of the movie they're about to show. I hardly even go to the movies anymore for entirely different reasons, but I'd be upset too if that happened to me.

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