Why don't you watch movie trailers?

Since Tom and Xtien specifically mentioned it on this week’s podcast, and I follow the same practice, I would like to know: Why don’t you watch movie trailers? Or conversely, why do you watch them?

In general, I tend to like teasers, where I get a quick glimpse of the film, maybe a bit about the overarching plot.

Most full trailers these days are just horrifically made and tend to reveal way too much about the movie. There is too much push to put the flashiest scenes in there without regard of the fact that the flashiest scenes are in the latter half of the film and ruin everything.

And then when trailers don’t include the flashiest scenes, morons complain that the movie looks boring.

I’ll watch them if I do not have a pre-existing interest in the film and then when they do make me curious, I still get irritated when they reveal too much.

If I am already looking forward to whatever it is, I do everything within my power to avoid trailers and discussions of the movie. I want my experience to be untainted by revealing scenes and loony internet* speculation.

That said, if it is an action movie I am looking forward to, all that really does not matter because it will most likely be overflowing with action-y goodness outside of what is given away.


I love movie trailers. Sometimes it’s the best part of the movie going experience.

They’ve got 3 mins to convince me that the movie is worth my attention so it’ll likely have great action, jokes, scenes, etc. If it’s a great movie then I got a lot of cool footage in a short amount of time. If the movie sucks then it’s not long before the preview is over.

I watch them because they’re there and I don’t want to look funny like Tom when he blocks his ears and shuts his eyes.

I also like to study the technique of how they’re put together. Trailers embody an interesting paradox: they are almost uniformly awful, yet there’s an enormous amount of craft and decision-making that goes into making them the way they are. I’ve cut a couple of feature trailers at the no-budget level and it is goddamn hard work.

Trailers demoralize me, though. They make almost every movie look worse than it turns out to be, because they condense everything into the most obvious emotional beats and eradicate any subtlety or nuance. Trailers for indie movies are the worst. They can take original, intelligent, serious work and make it look like cookie-cutter crap marketed to a supposedly “hip” audience.

There is a better way to do trailers – when you evoke, when you suggest a mood, when you entice rather than dumping the whole movie onto people. Hitchcock’s teaser for Psycho is a masterpiece (it’s shot with original footage, which is something that’s too rarely done nowadays).

I’m fairly indifferent to spoilers. I prefer not to have major plot points revealed, but even that doesn’t bother me too much. Usually my most satisfying viewings of films are the second, or fourth, or twenty-eighth anyway, when I already know the plot.

Weird. I say the complete opposite. When it comes to mainstream movies, they make all sorts of terrible movies look, if not good, then at least not complete crap. I admire the craft in turning a crapfest like Transformers 2 into a minute thirty nugget of this-could-be really-awesome-but-you’ll-never-know-for-sure-unless-you-see-it.

I knew in my brain that Underworld was going to be an awful movie, but the trailer did a really good job of selling it as a super cool Vampires versus Werewolves Matrix gunfu hot chick in leather funfest.

I wish trailers were shorter. These 2.5 minute trailers just give away far too much. The 90 second and 60 second spot is really the ideal time.

The Matrix didn’t need 150 seconds. Some of the best spots were those 15 second TV trailers that made you go “WTF? That was awesome and I need to see more of that.”

I do admit that the Pearl Harbor trailer (the first one, which was more teaser-like, highlighting a couple of superb shots) was so good that it almost made me want to go see that steaming pile. So occasionally it happens. But usually I see trailers and just get depressed about movies, regardless of genre.

Not only do I not watch trailers, I’m not even going to read this thread. Lalalalalalala…I can’t hear you…lalalalalalala!

Seriously, though, my thinking behind avoiding trailers is very simple. I want the director of a movie to control what I know and when I know it. Not the people trying to package the movie as a product.


I want the director of a movie to control what I know and when I know it. Not the people trying to package the movie as a product.

Keep in mind, those folks often control it anyway (not all directors get final cut, stuff can be reshot/recut based on preview screenings, etc.)

So what you’re saying is that I should probably just stop going to movies? Rats.


This. And because I enjoy movies a whole lot more when I know nothing about them going in. Do you know how cool it is to be excited when an actor you like unexpectedly shows up on-screen? Everything is a cameo.

I love watching trailers. Even the bad ones can be good in the sense that they are entertaining like a train wreck.

Obviously I prefer that they don’t spoil the entire movie they are a preview for, but I enjoy them more often than not.

Well, there’s also the reality that the director/producers/studio themselves are also trying to package the movie up as a product. You’re rarely seeing someone’s pure artistic vision.

To each their own. I find that I mostly do not care about being spoiled, and I find people who go way out of their way to remain unspoiled come off as a bit neurotic to me with their horrified ear covering and eye averting and running away. I’ve seen people literally do that, running out of a room going “lalalalalalal” to avoid getting spoiled and then complaining bitterly about it later. It’s a bit much.

I’m also one of those people who loves trailers as their own entity. The trailers are often the best part of a night out at the movie theater.

You know what else is cool? Knowing what movies to go to that feature actors you like. And being able to avoid the ones featuring actors you hate.

You can check the credits page on IMDB to find that out.

I’ve taken to showing up about 10 minutes late at the little theater where all the good films play here. I miss most of the trailers that way, and there are never more than a handful of people in a screening unless you show up at a matinée on opening weekend. (It’s an old theater with low rent.)

You can find that out without watching trailers, though. Trailers are dumb. I usually look up the trailers on YouTube after I see a movie and it almost always validates my no trailer watching policy.

Most of the time I bring headphones and listen to music during the trailers. I did watch the trailer for that Zac Efron movie where he plays catch with his dead brother, but only because that one is hilarious.

Well, yeah. But I have no idea why you and Gordo are bringing this up in the context of this discussion.


There is one very good reason to watch trailers: in 99% of all cases the trailer is better than the actual movie.

And another reason: if the filmmakers can’t make a decent 2 minute trailer why should anyone expect a decent 90 minute movie.