I like a good film trailer. More specifically, I like a good film trailer for a movie I don’t have any particular interest in. I’m glad that Sandra Bullock is still getting work; I’m happy that I’ve heard a track that the youth are into, because it will be my only reference point for the next six months; and I’m grateful for the free waterworks and pyrotechnic displays, but nope, I’m still not buying what’s being sold.
Conversely, when I see a trailer for a film I am really looking forward to, I don’t especially appreciate an unrelentingly frenetic disgorging of pre-emptive film facts all over my shell-shocked face. I’ll return to Ghostbusters (2016) later, but that moment in the trailer when an elevated apparition vomits gloopy gunk all over Kristen Wiig’s paranormal investigator, Erin Gilbert? That’s how I often feel when I see trailers for films I already planned on watching. As Gilbert says: “That stuff went everywhere by the way; in every crack. Very hard to wash off,” and I totally get that: I’ve still got many weeks left to eradicate the stain of the dirt-bike from Star Trek Beyond’s trailer from the crevices of my mind.
Unfortunately, slow and selective trailers aren’t a common phenomenon in Hollywood; they’re far more likely to be compressed, crammed, and kind of compromised as they all have one objective: to sell you everything in 2.5 minutes or less before the message self-destructs and you get ownership of your retinas back. Here, an advertising campaign might hit its first hitch because every one of us has differing expectations from a film trailer. So, while I’m in the metaphoric bathroom, scrubbing my hands like Lady Macbeth, you might actually want to know that super-critical twist in Terminator Genysis before you even step foot in the cinema. That’s okay because the Hollywood trailer is not a subtle creature in trying to please everyone with everything.
Trailer plots for Hollywood films are usually laid out for us like intricate bank heist blue-prints reduced to a Spot the Dog children’s book. “Where’s the love of your life hiding? There he is! He’s in the zoo, two-dimensionally avoiding your passive-aggressive need for intimacy!” The key scenes are often briskly propelled before our eyes like a Willy Wonka candy-machine set to rapid-fire auto-spoiler by some sucrose-soaked Oompa Lumpa Tony Montana. “Say ‘Hello’ to where we spent the budget, even if it does negate the dramatic force of the film” he might improbably be heard intoning…
The full 2,300 word version of this essay is published at Popmatters.com, where you can read the rest of the article for free.