Coming Soon to Theaters

mpaa(1)In this week’s book, Marketing to Moviegoers: A Handbook of Strategies and Tatics, Robert Marich discusses the different ways that films are strategically marketed to moviegoers. In the first chapter, Marich goes in depth as to how movie trailers and teasers are constructed to gain a following before the film is even released in theaters.  I found this to be extremely interesting, because I feel that movie trailers are often an underrated tool that give spectators a chance to decide whether they want to see the movie, or not. Marich identifies, “three distinct clusters of trailers,” that, “each takes two to three months to create from the start to settling on a final, locked version” (Marich, 28). It is a strategic approach that, and often used. The first of these three is the teaser trailer; before the bulk of the advertising for a studio film begins, a teaser trailer is often released to create awareness about a film. A teaser trailer for Hollywood films often begin to appear six months to a year before the theater release. These first run trailers usually run between a span of about 90-120 seconds, because, as Marich mentions:

“the more compact the teasers are, the more likely theaters will screen them…Another reason teaser trailers are short is the lack of available footage from the film, so there’s not much to show at this early stage” (Marich, 25).

In dealing with both of these factors, teaser trailers end up becoming a montage of quick cuts, added special-effects, and barely any dialogue. Below is an example of an affective teaser trailer for the 2010 film Inception:

What we get from this trailer is that it is Warner Bros. Picture film directed by Christopher Nolan, a montage of quick cut footage, and some added special effects. It demonstrates the very likely lack of available footage too work with at such an early stage. There is no narration provided in this teaser, which leaves much of it up to interpretation; however, the teaser does provide intense sound effects that work to build up interest and curiosity. All of this is intended to introduce a film still in the works, and make the general public aware that it will be coming down the road. After the teaser trailer, comes the second cluster of trailers, often referred to as trailer 1:

“Trailer 1, which runs in theaters months after teaser trailers, tends to emphasize fuller scenes from the film, as opposed to the teasers, which usually use footage from the film itself only sparingly or in a general montage” (Marich, 29).

Trailer 1 provides a more concentrated focus on a storyline. It is released about four months prior to a film’s premiere, and provides a better understanding for what a film is about. The intent is to “convey an overall point of view to make an impression on moviegoers…Moviegoers want to be told a story, so its crucial to communicate a plot and show its trajectory” (Mavich, 13). If affective, a trailer will get people hyped up, and talking about its upcoming release—which, is ultimately what the marketing is intended to do.

Trailer 1 for Inception (above) is much more concentrated on informing moviegoers about what kind of film it is, and what happens. In this trailer, DiCaprio’s character provides a voiceover that helps to explain the film’s plot, which allowed moviegoers to better determine their level of interest in going to see the film before it premiered. However, not much else is provided, in terms of who the characters are, and their motives. After seeing the Inception teaser trailer it is obvious that a bit more footage was available for trailer use by this time. Trailer 1 often provides a good sense of what to expect of a film, and what Hollywood stars are in it. This, however, does not complete the three clusters of trailers–the last cluster, referred to as trailer 2, goes even more in depth.

“Trailer 2–which builds on a general awareness moviegoers already should have with the film–tends to hold nothing back, making a complete and compelling pitch for audiences to see the film” (Marich, 29).

Trailer 2 ultimately provides moviegoers with all the information necessary to understand the basis for what a film is about, as well as to decide if it is a film of interest to them. Below is Inception‘s trailer 2:

Trailer 2 for Inception provides more in depth information about everything the film is about. Rather than just a voiceover like in Inception‘s trailer 1, trailer 2 shows much more about the characters involved, including dialogue, motives, background information, etc.. We get a sense of the romance, friendships, and betrayals that happen. It continues to build off of the what trailer 1 provided, adding key elements from the narrative. The goal of the three clusters of trailers, discussed my Marich, is too gradually build up awareness overtime, and provide moviegoers with just enough information about the film, without giving away too much so that they will still want to see when it comes out in theaters. I find this strategic model to be very effective, as they do get people talking, and hyped up about a soon-to-be released film. There are so many places where these trailers can be seen (theaters, television, ads during online streaming, etc), even if we aren’t actively looking to view them ourselves. Whether we realize it, or not, movie trailers are an extremely effective marketing strategy, because they make us aware of what is coming to theaters, months (even a year) in advanced.

Work Cited:

Marich, Robert. Marketing to Moviegoers: A Handbook of Strategies and Tactics. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U.P., 2013. PDF.

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  1. This roll-out of different trailer types for motion pictures also reminds me of how Chris Spencer described the different promotional ‘genres’ used to market HBO’s original productions.

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