The Power Of The Film Trailer

Why the trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo rocks, the Rise of the Apes ad sucks & Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is somewhere in the middle.

Two minutes. Films can either crash and burn or propel themselves beyond expectations in just two minutes.That is the length of a movie trailer. When you sit in a theater and hear the crowd€™s reaction (or lack thereof) to a preview you know the movies box office fate already. Near nonexistent laughter for a comedy spells disaster. Chuckles for a thriller never bode well. On the other hand, the buzz of conversation after a trailer is music to the maker€™s ears, and, of course, all out cheering of the hooting and hollering variety never hurts either. With that in mind let€™s take a look at some recent trailers - good and bad.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVLvMg62RPA "...Like a ton of bricks!" When this trailer comes crashing through the theater for the first time every moviegoer gets rocked. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo preview breaks the mold by giving you almost nothing to work with in the usual sense of plot, dialogue, or spectacle. What it does give you is a provocative assault on the senses and heart-pounding sense of mood and tone. Watching it gives you a rush. The kind of rush you'll want again, but will have to wait until December to get. The only real issue here is how challenging it is to read the block lettering at the end in IMAX-sized font as each word flickers by.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

When you make a trailer you have to stay aware of how the public perceives product. No one takes those "Damned dirty apes!" seriously anymore. So when a serious trailer like this one for Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Did Hemingway choose the title?) is greeted by audible chuckles most theaters you only need a mirror to see who is to blame. This preview was close to working, but in two distinct areas the trailer-makers dropped the ball. It's called... "The Cure." Are you actually trying to get laughed at? At least unobtanium had awe-inspiring special effects to mask the stank of its stupid name.If you're making a preview it's your job to hide bad screenwriting like that. Three words. Sinister. Ape. Face. Audiences could handle most of the super-ape actions, but the lack of a good reputation for the franchise prevented most people from suspending their disbelief when the leering monkeys came on screen. If they were smart enough to hide those pitfalls then we might actually be anticipating the new Apes with excitement. Instead, the most memorable part of the trailer is playing a game of "Spot the Harry Potter character" with your friends. The moral of the story? Keep it simple. Know your weaknesses. Make sure something stands out. Here's one last trailer that, against all odds, connects on all three.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has plenty of issues to deal with. Namely being the fourth installment of a middle-of-the-road action franchise, and having a star who is more of a laughingstock than a ticket draw at this point in his career. The people behind this trailer did a fantastic job of minimizing Tom Cruise's role outside of quick action cuts. His face and dialogue are almost exclusively seen to set up the currently more popular Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg. The trailer also keeps the focus simple (action), and plays down the Mission Impossible name outside of the iconic tagline. Even the thumping theme has been moved to the end; a dramatic shift from its traditional place as the lead in where it used to scream, "This is MISSION IMPOSSIBLE! We could show you Teletubbies for the next two minutes and you'd still want to see our movie." All of these subtle changes had a big impact. The franchise lost its luster a long time ago. When MI: Ghost Protocol was announced a year ago I laughed it aside. Now December 16th can't come fast enough. That is the power of the trailer.
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Phil loves a good debate. Don't expect him to shy away from starting the conversation. Follow him on Twitter @MrTallgeese if you're of a like mind, or if you just want to troll him relentlessly.