Trailer Culture Signifies Film Industry's Lack Of Confidence

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The Last Jedi Lucasfilm

Last week, we were treated to two tentpole trailers: November’s Justice League and December’s Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi. Recently, blockbuster trailers have steadily tended toward becoming comprehensive beat maps of entire films, as opposed to a general sketch of the premise.

At least Rian Johnson warned fans the new trailer gave away a great deal, while hastening to promise many more surprises in store. As a guy that religiously abstained from trailers until my profession demanded I discuss them, I appreciated the gesture, though I have come to understand that trailers aren’t “pitches” anymore, they’re pleas.

Commercially, the industry is suffering: people are gradually going to the movies less and less. What that means for fans is, despite how much better the already exceptional Blade Runner 2049 would’ve been if Deckard's role in the story was more of a mystery, studios simply can’t afford not to tell you Harrison Ford is in their movie. Just like the return of Galahad was clearly filmed as a twist in Kingsman 2, or how all the best jokes were dispersed between Deadpool’s two trailers, and the three-minute long trailer for Breath is literally a condensed version of the film set to a hammy music bed. 

Go back and watch the original trailer for Star Wars. It’s cryptic, it's epic, and it's fucking two minutes long. “The story of a girl, a boy and a universe.” “An epic of heroes, villains and… aliens from a thousand worlds.” The narrator clearly has no idea what the fuck a Star War is, and that’s okay.  “Star Wars! A billion years in the making and it’s coming to your galaxy this Christmas.”

SOLD.

Trailers are supposed to be at least a little vague. A good trailer is a visual blurb: Why should I see this movie? Cause spaceships, interesting set designs, killer ominous line of dialogue. Alright, I'll see you there, nerds. A bad trailer is your inebriated dad reading you a bedtime story. You get the gist but all the best parts are ruined and abbreviated.

The release of Justice League has been preceded by THREE trailers. There is enough content in each of them for any non-idiot to piece together the general rhythm and plot of the film. However, this is a much more serious problem for The Last the Jedi, given the Star Wars franchise’s propensity to revel in plot twists and dramatic reveals.  Let's hope there's still plenty more left to be discovered. 

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