Why the 'Baby Driver' Marketing Team Cut a 9:16 Trailer for SXSW

Edgar Wright's new movie trailer launched at SXSW, and it was vertical.

"The only consistent thing in our business is change," said Elias Plishner, in charge of Edgar Wright's Baby Driver for the Sony Pictures Entertainment team. "Everything we are talking about here [in Austin], we weren't talking about last year at SXSW." 

Sitting on SXSW panel Opening a Film in a Mobile World along with Facebook's Beverly Atkins, Plishner explained the motivations for experimenting with the trailer on the eve of Baby Driver's SXSW world premiere. For Plishner, the entire marketing build-up of the film's premiere was centered on the trailer release.

The film won't be in theaters for another five months. To generate buzz, they created three versions of the trailer: one in traditional 16:9, another in 1:1, and the last in 9:16. The reason? 80-90% of viewers the trailer targets will be viewing it on mobile. 

A tale of two (or three) trailers

Here is the horizontal version of the Baby Driver trailer that went live after the world premiere:

If you head to the Baby Driver Facebook page on mobile, you can see the 9:16 trailer for the film. It looks like the below on a desktop, but on mobile, it fills the whole screen:

Plishner pointed out that they also released the trailer in square format. Here's a screenshot of what the native Facebook video looks like on desktop view on the Baby Driver page:

"This is the first big campaign we're doing with vertical video," said Plishner. "After frequency studies about vertical video and live video, we're seeing that the attention and interest is two to three times higher with [vertical] assets. We're testing it out. We want to put butts in seats for the film."

A trailer for the trailer

You may have noticed that, in addition to the three different trailers for each viewing experience, the team added a 5-second mini-trailer bumper.

"Sometimes people are like goldfish—they have a three-second attention span," said Plishner. "You have to hook them. It's the opposite of TV, where you end on a cliffhanger. Here, you have to lead with the cliffhanger. So we experimented with adding a 5-second bumper."

What do you think of the different versions of the trailer? Would you consider cutting a version of your next trailer for mobile?

For more, see our complete coverage of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival.

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Your Comment


When I watch a trailer (or any video for that matter) on my phone, I automatically turn my phone landscape so the 16:9 fills out the entire phone. The Baby Driver 9:16 trailer only works if you keep your phone vertical, which I thought wasn't the way most people watch 'quality' videos such as trailers on their phones. Am I wrong?

March 20, 2017 at 8:18AM, Edited March 20, 8:18AM


This is where "smartphones" should be smart and automatically switch to the 16:9 if you flip it sideways.

March 20, 2017 at 8:51AM, Edited March 20, 8:50AM


That'd be a back-end developer's nightmare to maintain such a responsive video player.

March 20, 2017 at 10:29AM

Pat Heine

While I would agree with you and think that is right .... teens and millennia's are a very very different group. I have a very close group of 20+ family and close friends from 10 to 34 years old. 9:16 is very real and might likely be their favorite.... just watch that group take pictures and selfies....etc. As they say ...know your audience.

March 20, 2017 at 9:01AM


on one hand I get annoyed at people for 1)making vertical videos and 2) watching them and not noticing how annoying it is.

but, on the other hand, these producers are not letting that get in the way of meeting people where they are and using a (what i see, snobbishly, as faulty) trend to their advantage.

kind of like how ad agencies use "home-made" looking video footage for online videos. people are more likely to watch it because of the cultural association with "home-made" videos as relatable, immediate, and "the footage is terrible so the content MUST be amazing" principle.

March 20, 2017 at 10:23AM


It's a sad day when we have to create movie trailers especially for people who are too lazy to tilt their phones to properly view video content....

March 20, 2017 at 5:14PM

Ed Wright
Director, DP, Writer

We had to shoot this way for online commercials. Frame for 9:16 but keep it 16:9 safe. It's ridiculous. It limits movement. It forces sets to be built higher. It forces you to shoot on a 5k or better camera. It's a pain in the butt. I find shooting for square is fine (instagram) or just 16:9. If the audience cares enough they'll flip their damn phone.

March 22, 2017 at 6:30PM