Trailers for trailers are a real thing

We are through the looking glass, people.

A while back I had a nice cathartic whine about the phenomenon of trailers that give away the entire film's plot. It seems a natural follow-on from that to have another cathartic whine about trailer-trailers.

You may have seen the latest one, for Ridley Scott's upcoming Prometheus... trailer:



Yes, it's a trailer to let you know there'll be a new Prometheus trailer coming soon.

Now, I'm going to say this once, before moving on to more reasoned commentary:

GODDAMMIT, HOLLYWOOD, YOU'RE EMBARRASSING YOURSELF.

Here's why: we know that you're concerned about people (mostly Americans) not buying movie tickets anymore. Apparently the news that Americans are watching plenty of movies, just not in cinemas, is no comfort to you.

It's fair enough, from some angles - after all, 2011's ticket sales were the lowest they've been since 1995. CinemaBlend's Kelly West sums it up well: "As someone who considers a trip to the movies to be a great way to spend Friday night, it isn’t exactly easy to justify the cost these days, when you factor in a tighter budget, the high cost of tickets, and cheaper alternatives for those with the patience to wait. In my neck of the woods, a movie ticket costs $10 (more for 3D) for an adult. Factor in a drink and some popcorn and the cost of going to the movies increases even more. Double that if you're with someone you're paying for or sharing a budget with (spouse, significant other, etc)."

So, we get it: you're desperate to make people want to go to the movies again.

"Desperate" is the operative word here, as this emerging trailers-for-trailers trend smacks entirely of money-grubbing desperation.

Let's take Prometheus as an example: for decades people have had their fingers crossed that Ridley Scott would return to his Alien universe. Despite his initial caginess about whether or not Prometheus is an Alien prequel, it's safe to say that anticipation for the new film has been at fever pitch since he first showed grainy footage of Charlize Theron doing naked pushups as part of his Comic-Con panel last year.

In other words, if people are clearly already excited about the upcoming release of Prometheus, why does 20th Century Fox apparently feel the need to engage in this sort of witless promotional panhandling?

The Prometheus campaign is the first trailers-for-trailers approach that I've noticed, though there may have been others (feel free to share), though I have a sinking feeling it's the beginning of an avalanche as Hollywood scrambles to lure people back to the multiplex.

Of course what it fails to realise is that, in making high-quality product like Prometheus, or - as Mark Kermode put it - "intelligent blockbusters" like Inception, studios can ensure ticket sales. The record-breaking advance sales for The Hunger Games (the "anti-Twilight") certainly indicate as much.

Why not turn instead to clever viral marketing, like Peter Weyland's TED 2023 talk? (Though I suspect it was Scott's idea and not the studio's.)



Hell, even a compelling poster campaign - see: The Dark Knight, the initial poster run for Star Wars: Episode I - can suck people into the ticket line.

In other words, Hollywood: audiences are smart. They want to see good product and they want to see it promoted in left-field ways that don't insult their intelligence.

Expecting to rev them into a lather ABOUT A TRAILER is a handy way to do exactly the opposite.
profile of clembastow

6 comments so far..

  • Hotef's avatar
    Commenter
    Hotef
    Date and time
    Thursday 15 Mar 2012 - 11:13 AM
    Trailers are better than movies - all of the promise, none of the disappointment. Like an optimistic stab of pleasure to the head for all of 2 minutes... And while I totally agree with you, Clem, a little bit of wee came out watching the PROMETHEUS trailer trailer... Mi scusi.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • clembastow's avatar
    Commenter
    clembastow
    Date and time
    Thursday 15 Mar 2012 - 11:50 AM
    It's like I don't even know you anymore, Hotef...
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • Hotef's avatar
    Commenter
    Hotef
    Date and time
    Thursday 15 Mar 2012 - 12:03 PM
    I need to put together a re-hash episode of myself with all the good bits from my previous seasons...
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • crystaltowers's avatar
    Commenter
    crystaltowers
    Date and time
    Friday 16 Mar 2012 - 2:01 PM
    I have no patience for viral marketing either though. Left-field ideas, treasure-hunts, found footage, mock reality websites...who has the time to follow this shit, as well as work, get some sun and socialize? Once the movie's out, it's all redundant anyway.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • clembastow's avatar
    Commenter
    clembastow
    Date and time
    Sunday 18 Mar 2012 - 6:30 PM
    But what else will we reminisce about in our old age?? "Remember when they gave out CONTAGION-branded hand sanitizer at Flinders Street Station? Those were the days, Madge..."
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • Hotef's avatar
    Commenter
    Hotef
    Date and time
    Tuesday 20 Mar 2012 - 1:26 PM
    I really loved my TMNT gigantic (probably toxic) plastic cup from Greater Union circa 1990. (also see Batman Returns and Jurassic Park)
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.