Comics Creators

The problem with trailers


In or around 1985 I saw a trailer for Rocky 4 at the cinema. To my teenage eyes it looked beyond awesome. The camera panned slowly up starting with Ivan Dragos boots while he delivered a monologue “my name is Drago, I’m fighter from Soviet Union, soon I fight Rocky Balboa and the world will see his…defeat. Soon the whole world will know my name” Two boxing gloves them explode.

This footage wasn’t in the film and was clearly shot for the trailer. Given trailers alone are dissected and used to judge a film pre release, WHY don’t more studios choose to shoot a trailer completely independent of the movie?

How many times in the 70’s and 80’s did you buy a comic where the (often poor) story was sold via an exciting cover that actually had little bearing as to what lay beneath the cover?

I saw an advert for a new video game on to just now. At the bottom of the screen read - footage not in actual game- or similar. Games and comics are into this. I’m sick of seeing a trailer give away key parts of a movie and there is a better way. Surely I’m not alone in seeing this?

MM thoughts as a creator with a foot in the movie business would be interesting?



I know people who cut trailers for a living and I guess the mentality behind it is that if someone is already planning to see the film it bothers them when a trailer “shows too much” but if they weren’t planning to see the film, or are on the fence, then a trailer can’t possibly show too much. No matter how much you show people always assume there is more.


Wait I just saw this. Does @davidm know about it?



There were also dedicated trailers for Terminator and Aliens which were effective and didn’t use scenes from the movie


At least the covers were entertaining in their own right. Not just the generic pin-ups that you get today.


I think that’s a very interesting question. Clearly, there is a dynamic these days where we expect the trailer to represent the movie by showing key moments, but it’d be interesting if we had more trailers like the Rocky one which you describe (which I think sounds great).

I think it’d be a great additional tool to the trailers we have now. I don’t think you could replace them, because these days, people expect to get some impressions of a movie before they spend their money on it (and it has to be said, Rocky IV had other trailers, too, of course) - but it’d be a cool way to get a movie noticed.

I found the trailer you were talking about, by the way, here it is:

Great stuff :slight_smile:

Couldn’t find a teaser like that for Aliens - I think you may be remembering this teaser that only works with mood and no dialogue?

Didn’t find one for Terminator, either, but there’s a cool one for T2, maybe that was the one.

I do have to say, though, on the other hand: I love trailers, and I think they are an art form by themselves. There’s some great storytelling in some trailers, and in the best cases they manage to tell just a bit of the movie’s story while delivering something unique of their own.

…we can’t do this without mentioning Zack Snyder, can we?

I still think the second Watchmen trailer is a brilliant piece of Watchmen-related storytelling on its own. Watching it still is a better experience than watching the movie itself.


I just remembered another one.

One of the problems with the idea of using different material for trailers is, of course, that it is expensive (and probably difficult due to deadlines) to produce additional material just for a trailer, which is why both the Rocky and the Terminator 2 examples are very simple character trailers for which you needed only minimal equipment beyond the actors.

There’s one teaser trailer I just thought of that went beyond that, that had an entire proper scene that showed what the movie was about, but was not in the movie. The teaser for the original Spider-Man that tragically had the Twin Towers in it.

It was a great teaser, and very ambitious to create a short film one year in advance to drum up enthusiasm for a Spider-Man movie. It also had the bad luck of coinciding with a terrible tragedy.


I think trailers ought to tell you more about what the film is about, instead of just being a montage of images.

“…played by talented Leslie Nielsen” :smiley:


Hitchcock was the master of that.


Those teasers for Terminator and Aliens were the ones I meant. Nice to see that Rocky clip as well!! Good find

Given the budgets and the footage shot and not used I think bespoke trailers are a no brainer


Was that the Watchmen trailer that was attached to The Dark Knight? If so, that one trailer sold tons of copies of the trade likely more than have sold before or since.


Not sure about that, I don’t remember seeing it with Dark Knight… but I do think it was the Watchmen trailer with the greatest impact. There was an earlier and a later one, but neither produced so much resonance (or was anywhere as good).

I once wrote a longish post detailing how I thought the song commented on the images, similar to the image/word puns and references that Moore built into the book, and I thought that if Snyder has so much an understanding of what Moore did, that might mean that the movie actually will be great… ah well. Live and learn, I suppose. (Though I do like the movie, and always have.)

EDIT: Okay, maybe just one of the little observations: when the lyrics say “In your darkest hour / I hold secret’s flame”, there’s the Comedian using a flamethrower, so yeah, obviously the image and lyrics expressing similar things, but actually it goes one step beyond just that simple visualisation because The Comedian is also the one who is keeping a terrible secret - the one to Veidt’s plans - that he has to keep, which is something you’d only know and notice if you already know the book, so it’s quite clever to put that into the trailer. The kind of clever you get all the time in the book, but unfortunately not so much in the movie.


Just watched the trailer. I think that might have been the one. The other funny thing is that was a song from the Batman & Robin soundtrack. It was the companion to this track.


That soundtrack was epic!

Edit: the Underworld track on it - Moaner - is still one of my favourite dance tunes of all time, I’ve played it in sets when I’ve played to bigger crowds, even recently.


Also, this… - and how did it even get made?


We already have teaser trailers for most movies. You can be coy about sequels but it wouldn’t work for brand new properties. Still, I think given the budgets these days and the amount of movies coming out, I think you want your marketing to be as clear as possible. Not here’s the ending of the movie clear, but certainly here’s what this movie is about clear.