Essay Question: Do you watch trailers? If not, why not? If so, do you worry about having a movie spoiled for you before you see it?

OFCS members answer the question:

“Do you watch trailers? If not, why not? If so, do you worry about having a movie spoiled for you before you see it?”

Answers after the jump.

Karina Montgomery,

I definitely watch trailers, but I am always deeply disappointed if not angered when I watch the movie and find that the trailer gave too much away. I love a montage and it’s of course the story hook that makes me want to see in the first place. If the previews can convey the tone without ruining the plot, I will watch them again and again, getting excited about the upcoming film. Conversely, sometimes I am grateful to an overexposure trailer showing me that this movie is most definitely not worth my time. It’s a fine balance. Since critics are on the frontlines we don’t have the luxury of waiting to hear buzz, we are the ones who create it. It’s a dance of information and mystery that not enough studios are willing to pay for.

Felix Vasquez, Cinema Crazed:

I watch trailers only for movies I really want to see because (when pulled off correctly) they can give us an incredible look in to what could be incredible movies. Some of the best movie trailers give you an idea of what the story of the film is without ruining everything. For a long time trailers just stopped trying, but what with studios’ missions to bring audiences in to theaters, trailers have now almost returned to its former glory and have helped in bringing theaters back to life. Trailers for films like Cloverfield, Transformers, Shutter Island, Avatar and The Crazies have all but guaranteed an audience, and they keep me coming back again and again.

David Cornelius,

I’ve been a trailer junkie since childhood. Sure, I grumble quite loudly whenever some of them give away too much, but I’ll never stop watching them. Sometimes they’re the perfect introduction to a future favorite, sometimes they’re lousy enough to earn a hearty chuckle in the “who in their right mind would love that?” variety (oh, and there’s always someone in the crowd that loves it), sometimes they’re just a way of getting you in the perfect mood for a night at the movies.

James Plath,

Watching trailers isn’t a steady part of my movie-reviewing regimen, but there are times when I want to see how a film has been “packaged” before I write up my review. Though marketing, not creative people are behind the trailers, it’s still a main way in which the audience is pulled into the theaters. If there’s a disconnect between trailer and film, I want to know about it . . . because viewers want to know about it.

Dave Johnson, DVD Verdict:

I can’t get enough. I love trailers. My wife falls squarely in the “why bother and having the movie spoiled for you?” camp, and while she’s probabl right, soaking up a well-executed sneak peek — especially for a movie I’m anticipating — simply increases my hype factor. There are exceptions of course: the second I finished watching the Avatar trailer I knew a) exactly how that movie would unspool and, b) I would likely enjoy it as much as impromptu dental surgery. And I was right!

Don Levit, Reel Talk:

I miss the old days, when there were cartoons, news of the world, and lots of what were called “coming attractions,” though later living in Europe I learned that the latter were called (and now here, too) “trailers.” Trailers/coming attractions don’t ruin movies for me and are often the best part of the movies they advertise; I’d like more of them nowadays.

Tyler Foster, DVD Talk:

If I’m “sold” on a movie already — i.e., I love the cast, or the director, or the story, etc. — I make some effort to avoid the trailers if I haven’t seen them already. Sometimes, my willpower is not great enough when presented with the opportunity (say, when someone links it to me), and sometimes I end up catching it when I go to the theater, but I usually don’t make serious efforts not to watch movie trailers. That said, there have definitely been movies where I regretted watching the trailer, for all the hints it gave me where the movie was going. I’ve often found myself thinking, “the film can’t be over yet” because a specific shot, scene, or line from the trailer hasn’t appeared yet.

Anton Bitel, Channel 4 Film:

I tend not to watch trailers unless they are drawn specifically to my attention, but I do consider them as ‘authorised’ paratexts, spoiling only what the filmmakers are broadly happy to have spoilt. That said, I definitely prefer trailers that take an oblique approach to their material (the trailers for Burn After Reading and A Serious Man come to mind) – nothing makes me want to see a film more than a bit of mystification.

Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat:

It’s kind of hard to avoid trailers, so I do see them. However, I try not to pay attention to them too closely. So many of them give away far too much, and I prefer to go into a movie with as little advance knowledge as possible. It is not too difficult for me to zone out a little bit while the trailers are running. If there’s a “red band” trailer, I will refuse to watch it altogether. These are notorious for giving away the best parts of a film, especially if it’s a comedy. I avoid red band trailers like the plague.

Sarah Boslaugh, Playback: stl:

I watch trailers to find out how a movie is being marketed. Plus they are an art form (of sorts) unto themselves and it’s fascinating to reflect on how trailers have changed over the years. But as a guide to what the movie is actually like, they are often worse than useless.

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