Thursday, May 31, 2012

Are Movie Trailers Behind The Times?

Let's face it. Movie Trailers are an art form in and of themselves. The dramatic editing and choice of music is meant to compel the viewer to go see the film. A trailer has to walk that fine line of revealing enough key scenes to tell what the film is about, yet not give away everything. Like a burlesque show, it is the art of the tease. Show em a little leg, and they'll beg for more.

Yet, in the 21st Century, this art form is becoming more and more outdated. The movie trailer operates under the assumption that it's preserving the integrity of the film and its content. However, in the modern world of cinema, that integrity no longer exists.

Case in point: The Amazing Spider-Man. Several teasers and trailers have been released as of this writing depicting the action/drama of the upcoming reboot of the franchise. The main villain is the Lizard, and in the grand style of movie trailers, we only get the quickest and most subliminal peek at this classic villain. We get a sense that it's the Lizard, but we also feel urged to see the film if for no other reason to see how the character is realized on film. A great technique if this was 1982, but this is 2012, and trailers haven't caught up. Within mere minutes of a trailers release, fans will stream the trailer online, freeze frames and analyze every image. The subliminal image of the lizard is now available for in depth scrutiny, long before his intended reveal on the big screen.

Of course, it could be argued, that there is no intended reveal? Perhaps not. Even those who shy away from websites and internet scrutiny are still confronted with spoilers authorized by the studios themselves. The toy lines come out with action figures, children's books are released with the illustrated novel of the film, all BEFORE THE FILM'S THEATRICAL release.

This isn't a trend that started with Spider-Man. It seems big-budget blockbusters with toy/fast food/merchandise tie-ins seem to have no problem letting the cat out of the bag. Go back to April 1999, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, arguably the most anticipated film of the decade, releases its soundtrack to record stores. On the back, the track list includes a title called, "The Death of Qui-Gon-Jinn." Really, you're spilling the beans about a major character and what happens to him?

This cat out of the bag method has not hindered the movie studios at all. In fact, one could go back to 1999 and see how year after year box office records are continuously shattered. Fans, getting more than they want  out of a film before its release hasn't discouraged them from buying a ticket. The studio seems on board, the fans are enthusiastic, yet the trailers haven't seemed to embrace this concept. Perhaps the art of the tease is lost on today's instant gratification culture. It will be interesting to see if and when trailers get repackaged to reflect this current trend.