'In a World' of Movie Trailers: The History of the Best Part of Going to the Theater
They are the reason why we show up on time to the movie theater — “Hurry up! We’re gonna miss the previews!” Previews, movie trailers, or coming attractions are a staple of the cinematic experience and are more often than not enjoyed as pieces of art (or 1 1/2 minute short) rather than seen as advertisements (though they are both). In this comprehensive video, John P. Hess of Filmmaker IQ takes us on a journey through the history of the movie trailer, offering an interesting perspective by explaining not only how they’ve changed over time, but why they’ve changed.
We all love movie trailers, especially those of us with short attention spans and little time to commit to anything longer than a couple of minutes. Trailers have evolved from the lengthy and very overt advertisements they were in the Golden Age of Hollywood to the carefully constructed and masterfully executed pseudo-short films that they are today.
As Hess walks us through the evolution of the movie trailer, he doesn’t just focus on the changes in style and function, but in the changes in the culture that spurred them on in the first place. For instance, have you ever wondered why trailers from the 20s through the 60s look pretty much the same in terms of style? Well, you can thank the national Screen Service for that, because they monopolized the movie promotions market, including the making of posters and trailers, for over 40 years. After that, the dream of the blockbuster was realized with Jaws, which opened in an unprecedented 464 theaters nationwide. How did Universal pull it off? Well, they sunk $700,000 into TV advertising, which was unheard of at the time, meaning everyone and their mom saw the trailer to Jaws in the summer of 1975 if they were plopped in front of the tube for any length of time.
Check out Filmmaker IQ’s excellent video below, and learn more about the history of the movie trailer. Be sure to follow along with their written post, which contains tons of trailers and images that supplement the video.
At the end of the day, the purpose of a trailer is not to entertain you, but get you to buy tickets to and copies of movies through being entertaining. There are all sorts of ways to ensure that your trailer entices audiences to see your film — even if it means just filming a publicity stunt and slapping on the title of your movie at the end just like the marketing team that worked on Carrie.
What about the history of the trailer stuck out to you? What factors are currently influencing the way trailers are made today, and how do you think they will evolve as time goes on? Let us know in the comments below.