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Atrailer(also known as aprevieworcoming attraction) is a commercialadvertisementfor afeature filmthat will be exhibited in the future at acinema, the result of creative and technical work. The term trailer comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a feature film screening.1That practice did not last long, because patrons tended to leave the theater after the films ended, but the name has stuck. Trailers are now shown before the film begins.
Movie trailers have now become popular onDVDsandBlu-raydiscs, as well as on the Internet and mobile devices. Of some 10 billion videos watched online annually, film trailers rank third, after news and user-created video.2The trailer format has also been adopted as a promotional tool for television shows, video games, books, and theatrical events/concerts.
The first trailer shown in an American film theater was in November 1913, whenNils Granlund, the advertising manager for theMarcus Loewtheater chain, produced a short promotional film for the musicalThe Pleasure Seekers, opening at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. As reported in a wire service story carried by theLincoln, NebraskaDaily Star, the practice which Loew adopted was described as an entirely new and unique stunt, and that moving pictures of the rehearsals and other incidents connected with the production will be sent out in advance of the show, to be presented to the Loews picture houses and will take the place of much of the bill board advertising.3Granlund was also first to introduce trailer material for an upcoming motion picture, using a slide technique to promote an upcoming film featuringCharlie Chaplinat Loews Seventh Avenue Theatre in Harlem in 1914.4
Trailers were initially shown after, or trailing, the feature film, and this led to their being called trailers. The practice was found to be somewhat ineffective, often ignored by audiences who left immediately after the feature. Later, exhibitors changed their practice so that trailers were only one part of the film program, which included cartoon shorts, newsreels, and serial adventure episodes. Today, more elaborate trailers and commercial advertisements have largely replaced other forms of pre-feature entertainment, and in major multiplex chains, about the first 20 minutes after the posted showtime is devoted to trailers.citation needed
Up until the late 1950s, trailers were mostly created byNational Screen Serviceand consisted of various key scenes from the film being advertised, often augmented with large, descriptive text describing the story, and an underscore generally pulled from studio music libraries. Most trailers had some form of narration, and those that did featuredstentorianvoices.citation needed
In the early 1960s, the face of motion picture trailers changed. Textless, montage trailers and quick-editing became popular, largely due to the arrival of the new Hollywood and techniques that were becoming increasingly popular in television. Among the trend setters wereStanley Kubrickwith his montage trailers forLolita(1962),Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(1964), and2001: A Space Odyssey(1968). Kubricks main inspiration for theDr. Strangelovetrailer was the short filmVery Nice, Very Nice(1961) by Canadian film visionaryArthur LipsettPablo Ferro, who pioneered the techniques Kubrick required as necessary elements for the success of his campaign, created theDr. Strangelovetrailer, as well as the award-winning trailer forA Clockwork Orange(1971).citation needed
Many home videos contain trailers for other movies produced by the same company scheduled to be available shortly after the legal release of the video, so as not to spend money advertising the videos on TV. MostVHStapes would play them at the beginning of the tape, but some VHS tapes contained previews at the end of the film or at both ends of the tape. VHS tapes that contained trailers at the end usually reminded the viewer to Stay tuned after the feature for more previews. WithDVDsandBlu-rays, trailers can operate as a bonus feature instead of having to watch through the trailers before the film.citation needed
Trailers consist of a series selected shots from the film being advertised. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract an audience to the film, these excerpts are usually drawn from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film but in abbreviated form and usually without producingspoilers. For this purpose the scenes are not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the film. A trailer has to achieve that in less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the maximum length allowed by theMPAA. Each studio or distributor is allowed to exceed this time limit once a year, if they feel it is necessary for a particular film.5
In January 2014, the movie theater trade groupNational Association of Theatre Ownersissued an industry guideline asking that film distributors supply trailers that run no longer than 2 minutes, which is 30 second shorter than the prior norm.6The guideline is not mandatory, and also allows for limited exceptions of a select few movies having longer trailers. Film distributors reacted coolly to the announcement. There had been no visible disputes on trailer running time prior to the guideline, which surprised many.
Some trailers use special shoot footage, which is material that has been created specifically for advertising purposes and does not appear in the actual film. The most notable film to use this technique wasTerminator 2: Judgment Day, whose trailer featured an elaborate special effect scene of a T-800 Terminator being assembled in a factory that was never intended to be in the film itself.Dimension Filmsalso shot extra scenes for their 2006 horror remake,Black Christmas- these scenes were used in promotional footage for the film, but are similarly absent from the theatrical release. A trailer for the 2002 blockbusterSpider-Manhad an entire action sequence especially constructed that involved escaping bank robbers in a helicopter getting caught in a giant web between theWorld Trade Centers two towers. However, after theSeptember 11 attacksthe studio pulled it from theaters.
One of the most famous special shoot trailers is that used for the 1960s thrillerPsycho, which featured directorAlfred Hitchcockgiving viewers a guided tour of the Bates Motel, eventually arriving at the infamous shower. At this point, the soft-spoken Hitchcock suddenly throws the shower curtain back to revealVera Mileswith a blood-curdling scream. As the trailer, in fact, was made after completion of the film whenJanet Leighwas no longer available for filming, Hitchcock had Miles don a blonde wig for the fleeting sequence. Since the title, Psycho, instantly covers most of the screen, the switch went unnoticed by audiences for years until freeze-frame analysis clearly revealed that it was Vera Miles and not Janet Leigh in the shower during the trailer.
There are dozens of companies that specialize in the creation of film trailers in Los Angeles and New York. The trailer may be created at agencies (such as The Cimarron Group, MOJO, The Ant Farm, Ben Cain, Aspect Ratio, Flyer Entertainment, Trailer Park, Buddha Jones) while the film itself is being cut together at the studio. Since the edited film does not exist at this point, the trailereditorswork fromrushesordailies. Thus, the trailer may contain footage that is not in the final movie, or the trailer editor and the film editor may use differenttakesof a particular shot. Another common technique is including music on the trailer which does not appear on the movies soundtrack. This is nearly always a requirement, as trailers and teasers are created long before the composer has even been hired for the film scoresometimes as much as a year ahead of the movies release datewhile composers are usually the last creative people to work on the film.
Some trailers that incorporate material not in the film are particularly coveted by collectors, especially trailers for classic films. For example, in a trailer forCasablancathe character Rick Blaine says, OK, you asked for it! before shooting Major Strasser; this line of dialogue is not spoken in the final film.
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Over the years, there have been many instances where trailers give misleading representations of their films. They may give the impression that a celebrity who only has a minor part in the film is one of the main cast members, or advertising a film as being more action-packed than it is. These tricks are usually done to draw in a larger audience. Sometimes the trailers include footage not from the film itself. This could be an artistic choice, or because the trailer was put together before the films final cut, but at other times it is to give the audience a different impression of the movie. Then trailers could be misleading in a for the audiences own good kind of way, in that a general audience would not usually see such a film due to preconceptions, and bybait and switching, they can allow the audience to have a great viewing experience that they would not ordinarily have. However, the opposite is true too, with the promise of great trailers being let down by mediocre films.7An American woman sued the makers ofDrivebecause their film failed to live up to its promos promise,8910although her lawsuit was dismissed.1112In August 2016, an American lawyer attempted to sueSuicide Squadfor false advertising over lack of scenes includingJoker.13
Trailers tell the story of a film in a highly condensed fashion to have maximum appeal. In the decades since film marketing has become a large industry, trailers have become highly polished pieces of advertising, able to present even poor movies in an attractive light. Some of the elements common to many trailers are listed below. Trailers are typically made up of scenes from the film they are promoting, but sometimes containdeleted scenesfrom the film.
The key ambition in trailer-making is to impart an intriguing story that gets film audiences emotionally involved.14
Most trailers have athree-act structuresimilar to a feature-length film. They start with a beginning (act 1) that lays out the premise of the story. The middle (act 2) drives the story further and usually ends with a dramatic climax. Act 3 usually features a strong piece of signature music (either a recognizable song or a powerful, sweeping orchestral piece). This last act often consists of a visual montage of powerful and emotional moments of the film and may also contain a cast run if there are noteworthy stars that could help sell the movie.
Voice-overnarration is sometimes used to briefly set up the premise of the film and provide explanation when necessary, although this practice has declined in the years after the passing of voice-over artistDon LaFontaine. Since the trailer is a highly condensed format, voice-over is a useful tool to enhance the audiences understanding of the plot. Some of the best-known, modern-day trailer voice-over artists have been the aforementioned LaFontaine,Hal DouglasMark Elliott, John Leader,Corey BurtonGeorge DelHoyoPeter CullenMorgan FreemanAshton SmithJim Cummings, John Garry,Tom KaneNick SchatzkiBen Patrick Johnson, Tony Rodgers,Beau Weaver, andBrian Cummings. Classic voice-over artists in film trailers of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s included Howard Strickling (for MGM), Lou Marcelle (for Warner Bros.), Art Gilmore, Knox Manning, Reed Hadley, Les Tremayne (for MGM), Fred Foy (for MGM), Karl Weber (for MGM) and Bob Marcato. Hollywood trailers of the classic film era were renowned for clichs such as Colossal!, Stupendous!, etc. Some trailers have used voice over clichs for satirical effect. This can be seen in trailers for films such as Jerry Seinfelds Comedian and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny.
Musichelps set thetoneand mood of the trailer. Usually the music used in the trailer is not from the film itself (thefilm scoremay not have been composed yet). The music used in the trailer may be:
Music from the score of other movies.
Popular or well-known music, often chosen for its tone, appropriateness of a lyric or lack thereof, or recognizability. The most often used of these is
as well as the works ofE.S. PosthumusandBeethoven. Popular music may be selected for its tone (i.e. hard rock for an action film, lighter pop for a romantic comedy), or to establish context (e.g. the trailer for a film set in the 1940s might use big band swing).
Library music previously composed specifically to be used in advertising by an independent composer. There are many trailer music library companies which producetrailer music, some of the best known areaudiomachineTwo Steps From HellImmediate MusicandX-Ray Dogor SFX and Music libraries like the ones from Moss Landing,Gerrit Kinkel ProductionsorredCola.
Specially composed music. One of the most famous Hollywood trailer music composers, credited with creating the musical voice of contemporary trailers, isJohn Beal, who began scoring trailers in the 1970s and, in the course of a thirty-year career, created original music for over 2,000 film trailer projects,
including 40 of the top-grossing films of all time, such as
Acast runis a list of thestarsthat appear in the movie. If thedirectororproduceris well-known or has made other popular movies, they often warrant a mention as well. Most trailers conclude with abillingblock, which is a list of the principalcastandcrew. It is the same list that appears on posters and print publicity materials, and also usually appears on-screen at the beginning (or end) of the movie. Studioproduction logosare usually featured near the beginning of the trailer. Until the late 1970s, they were put only at the end of the trailer or not used at all; however,Paramount Pictureswas the first studio to use its actual studio logo at the beginning of its trailers in the 1940s. Often there will be logos for both theproduction companyanddistributorof the film.
Many trailers aremixedin Dolby Digital or any other multichannel sound mix. Scenes including sound effects and music that are enhanced by stereophonic sound are therefore the focus point of many modern trailers.
Trailers preceding feature films are generally presented in the same format as the feature, being either 35mm film or a digital format. High bandwidth internet connections allow for trailers to be distributed online at any resolution. Since the advent ofDigital 3D, it has become common for a 3‑D feature film to be preceded by one or more trailers that are also presented in 3‑D.
National Screen Service contracts required that trailers be returned (at the cinemas expense) or destroyed, however it required no proof of destruction and depositing them in a waste bin counted. A market for trailers evolved as it became clear that some had a commercial value to collectors. Many of the trailers for films like theStar Warsseries reported as destroyed were taken back out of the bin and sold by cinema staff. As they cost about $60 each to make (1981 estimate) and were hired to the cinema for $10, such losses led to NSS increasing its rental charges, which led to a decrease in the number of trailers rented and shown to audiences.17
Some cinemas also began to show trailer trash programs of trailers without a main feature. Similarly, several DVDs containing nothing but trailers for films, typically from exploitation film genres, have been produced for sale.
Beginning in the late 1990s to early 2000s, and along with the development of the Internet and sites such asYouTubeas well as animation techniques, more types of trailers began to be created due to easier and cheaper costs to produce and show trailers.
Beginning in the late 1990s to early 2000s, video game trailers began to be produced as they became more mainstream. Used to entice viewers to go out and play the game, game trailers are very useful. The content and production process is similar to that for movies, complicated by the need to convey the way the game plays. The trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines, for example, featured graphics that were of a higher standard than the game that was eventually sold.18Hideo Kojima, a game creator strongly influenced by Hollywood movies, edits the elaborate trailers for his own games from a special studio in his office.19
TV spots are trailers for movies shown on television that are often shortened to 3060 seconds. These trailers are similar to green band trailers and have content appropriate for the channel.
TV showtrailers are trailers advertising a new TV series, episode, event or marathon premiering on television. Trailers for the next episode of a TV series are often shown during or following the closing credits of the show.
Abook traileris avideoadvertisement for abookwhich employs techniques similar to those ofmovie trailersto promote books and encourage readers.20These trailers can also be referred to as video-podcasts, with higher quality trailers being called cinematic book trailers.21They are circulated on television and online in most common digital video formats.22Common formats of book trailers include actors performing scenes from the book akin to a movie trailer, full production trailers, flash videos, animation or simple still photos set to music with text conveying the story.23This differs from author readings and interviews, which consist of video footage of the author narrating a portion of their writing or being interviewed.24Early book trailers consisted mostly of still images of the book, with some videos incorporating actors,25withJohn Farrissbook trailer for his 1986 novelWildwoodincorporating images from the book cover along with actors such asJohn Zacherle.26
In September 2007, theSchool Library Journalestablished the Trailie Award for the best book trailers. There are three categories: author/publisher created, student created and librarian/adult created. The award was announced at theSchool Library JournalLeadership Summit on the Future of Reading on October 22, 2010 in Chicago.27
In 2014, Dan Rosen and CV Herst established BookReels, a website dedicated to allowing publishers and authors to post book trailers and other multimedia, culminating in the annual BookReels Awards. BookReels lets readers browse and rate trailers, post comments and reviews, join discussion groups, and share BookReel discoveries.28
For popular movies, fans often make trailers on their own. These are unofficial videos by fans utilizing audio or video of a movie, studio trailer, animation techniques or fan-acted scenes replacing the video of the official trailer.
TheMotion Picture Association of America(MPAA) mandates that theatrical trailers be no longer than two minutes and thirty seconds. Each major studioclarification neededis given one exception to this rule per year.citation neededInternet or home-video trailers have no time restrictions.Rating cardsappear at the head of trailers in the United States which indicate how closely the trailer adheres to the MPAAs standards.citation needed
Agreen bandis an all-green graphic at the beginning of the trailer. Until April 2009, these cards indicated that they had been approved for all audiences and often included the moviesMPAA rating. This signified that the trailer adheres to the standards for motion picture advertising outlined by the MPAA, which include limitations on foul language and violent, sexual, or otherwise objectionable imagery. In April 2009, the MPAA began to permit the green band language to say that a trailer had been approved for appropriate audiences, meaning that the material would be appropriate for audiences in theaters, based on the content of the film they had come to see. In May 2013, the MPAA changed the trailer approval band from for appropriate audiences to to accompany this feature, but only when accompanying a feature film; for bands not accompanying a feature film, the text of the band remained the same. The font and style of the text on the graphic bands (green and red) was also changed at the time the green band was revised in 2013.citation needed
Trailers which do not adhere to these guidelines may be issued ared band, which indicates approval for only restricted or mature audiences. These trailers may only be shown theatrically before R-rated, NC-17-rated, or unrated moviescitation needed(only films that are released in theaters rated R and not in theatersclarification neededrated PG-13). These trailers may include nudity, profanity, or other material deemed inappropriate for children.29
Additionally, yellow band trailers were introduced around 2007 to indicate restricted content, only for distribution on the Internet. Although official, this practice appears to have never been widespread (although occasional yellow band trailers are created). A notable example is the yellow band trailer for Rob ZombiesHalloween(2007).30
Every year there are two main events that give awards to outstanding film trailers: TheKey Art Awards, presented byThe Hollywood Reporter, and theGolden Trailer Awards. The Golden Trailer Awards and the Key Art Awards pick winners in all creative parts of film advertising, from trailers and TV spots to posters and print ads. The Golden Trailer Awards are currently expanding to add a sister event, The World Trailer Awards, to be a kickoff to the Cannes Film Festival in France, 2013. The yearly Key Art Awards ceremony is often held at theDolby Theaterin Hollywood.The Film Informantalso recognizes movie marketing media and held the first annual TFI Awards in early January 2012.31The site is the first to officially start recognizing and rating movie marketing media on a daily basis.
List of most viewed online trailers in the first 24 hours
Gfactor (2007-11-06).Why are they called trailers if theyre shown before the movie?. The Straight Dope.
AWFJ Opinion Poll: All About Movie Trailers. AWFJ. 2008-05-09.
Movies Score on Legit in New York; Lincoln, Nebraska
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Trailer music. SoundtrackNet, LLC. 30 April 2009.
Theaters Advocate Shorter Movie Trailers. . 2014-01-28.
10 Movie Trailers That Are Nothing Like The Actual Movie. m
Hardie, Giles (October 11, 2011).Misleading trailer leads to law suit.
Child, Ben (10 October 2011).Woman sues to stop Drive getting away with a misleading trailer.
10/08/11 3:02pm 10/08/11 3:02pm.Woman Files Lawsuit Over Misleading Trailer for Drive. Gawker.com
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Suicide Squad fan suing for false advertising over the lack of Joker scenes.
Marketing to Moviegoers: A Handbook of Strategies and Tactics
(3rd ed.). Southern Illinois University Press. pp.642.
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Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You – Maybe in Ares 8, Schow, DJ; Simulations Publications, NY 1981, Page 33
Sega Admits Aliens: Colonial Marines Trailer Was Misleading. Forbes
Matulef, Jeffrey (2014-03-14).War has changed. But has Hideo Kojima? • Articles • PlayStation 4 •. Eurogamer.net
Chmielewski, Dawn (November 4, 2006).YouTube video sets stage for novel.
Publicize Your Book (Updated): An Insiders Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves
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Berton, Justin (September 18, 2006).Seeking readers via book trailer / Publisher tries out movie-style preview to market new title
Fox, Killian (15 July 2006).On a screen near you …
Kneschke, Tristan (February 20, 2012).Dont Judge a Book by its Trailer.
Metz, Nina.Super Sad Book Trailers. Chicago Tribune.
Fitton, Akira.TOR Books WILDWOOD promo
SLJs Trailie Awards Asks Readers to Vote for Their Favorite Book Trailer. School Library Journal
BookReels, an MTV for Books?. Publishers Weekly
Barnes, Brooks (February 23, 2010).Cat-and-Mouse for a Trashy Trailer. New York Times
Halbfinger, David M. (13 June 2007).Attention, Web Surfers: The Following Film Trailer May Be Racy or Graphic.
. The Film Informant. Archived fromthe originalon 17 July 2012
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