by D.W. Lundberg

Monday, April 27, 2015


Could someone please tell me when trailer-worship became an actual thing? By "trailer," of course, I mean "a short promotional film composed of clips showing highlights of a movie due for release in the near future," as defines it, and by "worship" I mean "people completely losing their s#@% over two minutes of random footage for a movie that probably hasn't even finished shooting yet." Most unsettling is the fact that you no longer need to venture down to your local theater to view these trailers in all their big-screen glory, as was the case in my day. Now, you can download the latest trailers onto your computer, or access them on YouTube or some attention-seeking celebrity's Facebook or Twitter feed, to your heart's content.

As if that weren't enough, we have now reached a point where studios have started releasing trailers for their trailers - 30-60-second teasers for full-length previews soon to debut on TV or the web. I first noticed this during the build-up to Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), when Paramount rolled out this minute-long teaser on December 6th, 2012:

Which basically this turned out to be something of a bait and switch, advertising an extended trailer that would follow less than two weeks later. This super-sized trailer, which premiered December 17th (online, naturally), is really nothing more than a longer, less truncated version of the exact same footage:

Am I wrong, or is this exactly the sort of roundabout studio thinking that makes sense only in Hollywood? As if some marketing guru discovered a way of dangling a tasty carrot in front of... a larger carrot. ("Right this way, ladies and gents!" you can hear them shout. "Step right up and feast your eyes upon this preview of what's to come... for a preview of what's to come!") Have we become so starved for entertainment that the trailer for a movie now equals the experience of the movie itself?

This being the Information Age, of course, some enterprising folk have discovered a way to scoop these trailers ahead of their actual debuts, sometimes days before studios have a chance to give them a proper roll-out - capturing blurry cell phone footage and posting it to the Internet. On October 22nd of last year, as a matter of fact, an anonymous scooper managed to upload the full teaser to Avengers: Age Of Ultron to the web, which had originally been scheduled to air with Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. the following week. Marvel took the high ground, Tweeting this response and releasing the actual trailer later that day. (They've since subpoenaed Google for the source of the leak.)

Then, on April 16th, after director Zack Snyder announced via Twitter that the trailer for his upcoming superhero opus, Batman v Superman, would get a special IMAX treatment on April 20th, shaky-cam footage of said trailer also managed to magically make its way online. DC, too, decided to bite the speeding bullet, and, following in Marvel's footsteps (which, to be honest, seems to be their overall plan as of late), released an official version shortly after.

Naturally this begs the question, Do movie studios bring this upon themselves? Are they purposely asking for trouble, practically daring potential hackers and Internet trolls to spoil the fun for everyone? Or is this simply the inevitable and unwanted side effect of attempting new and amazing ways to draw attention to themselves?

Not all Teasers For Upcoming Trailers, however, have been so obvious in their unending quest for fanboy attention. Marvel's Ant-Man, for example, took its title a bit... literally, when this 18-second tease appeared on January 3rd:

Finally, you have to give it up for Lucasfilm, Disney, and the makers of this December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens (official title pending). Last week, it was widely rumored that the latest teaser for J.J. Abrams's expected box office juggernaut would be unveiled at Lucasfilm's semi-annual Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. Even the most reluctant fan could feel the excitement as they live-blogged the event that Thursday morning. Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican hosted the main panel, with Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy as special guests, and introduced new cast members Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), as well as some of the special effects-meisters who worked on the film. Then Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) took the stage, and seemed honestly humble and sincere and as they spoke to the crowd, grateful for the fame and attention the franchise had afforded them over the years. 

They premiered the new teaser, as promised, immediately afterward. To say this was the icing on the cake does the experience little justice. No bitterness. No hate. No attempts to "scoop" the event or spoil it for anyone else. Just millions of fans the world over, sharing in their love for something greater than themselves.

Now that's how you tease a teaser.

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