3Just Go Ahead And Ruin The Entire Goddamn Movie
When they're not lying to audiences, trailers are telling them too much. Hollywood has been known to treat films with a unique plot, or a surprising twist ending with all the delicacy of Lenny in Of Mice and Men.
"I see dead people...wink."
Take, for instance, one of the first genuine twist endings in the history of Hollywood cinema. The studio knew they had a twist that would leave audiences head spinning if they could just get them to watch it. The whole trailer teases you with the mystery at the heart of the film's mind blowing ending, asking "What is the secret of Soylent Green?"
You'd just have to watch the movie to find out. Or, you know, keep your eyes open for the part of the trailer where Charlton Heston breaks into the factory and sees all the bodies moving down the conveyor belt. If you caught that, then don't worry about showing up, you can probably put it together from there.
With time, this became common place. The trailer for Ransom was geared around a dramatic scene in which Mel Gibson's character announces that he is offering his own ransom as a bounty on the kidnapper's head, a plot twist that kills any suspense you might have felt during the first half of the movie. The trailer for Wild Things ruined the first half of that movie by giving away the fact that the sexual harassment suit against Matt Dillon is a hoax.
A sexy hoax.
And of course there's Cast Away's trailer that shows the plane crash that lands Tom Hanks on the island...
Tom Hanks battling the elements, and then Tom Hanks being rescued by his friends who tell him, "You've been gone for four years."
They actually end the trailer with the final shot of the film, but commendably show the restraint to cut things off before the credits start to roll.
2Lie About Who The Star Is
So you're a studio exec, and you just greenlit a $70 million movie called Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to be shot entirely in front of green screens. You're planning on using CGI to fill those screens with giant robots trundling around 1930s New York. Unfortunately, your focus group results just arrived, and the majority of the audience tells you all they really wanted to see was a sexy hamburger.
Where's the fucking beef people?
As you're preparing to clean out your desk, you notice that one of the focus group members mentioned Angelina Jolie for some reason. After re-watching the film, making sure not to blink the second time, you confirm that Jolie does in fact make a brief cameo. But since she's the most bankable star in Hollywood, you release a trailer that uses that cameo like Native Americans used a buffalo carcass.
She isn't kidding when she tells Gwyneth, "It's a pleasure to finally meet the competition," as they meet an hour and two minutes into the movie, resulting in Angelina getting slightly more screen time than Sir Lawrence Olivier, who was cast as the villain using stock footage recorded before he died.
Can we imply that Angelina has sex with the dead guy?
Using a star's brief cameo as bait in a cinematic bear trap is nothing new. The trailer for Star Trek: Generations seemed to promise Kirk and Picard standing shoulder to shoulder saving the universe, like a galactic 48 Hours if Eddie Murphy was also old and white. Of course, in the actual film they unceremoniously drop a bridge on Kirk so fast he might as well be wearing a red shirt.
But devotees of the Star Trek and Angelina Jolie's remarkable boobs have nothing on the apparently sizable, and oft-mislead talking-animal fanbase. The trailer for the 2002 movie, Snow Dogs, featured Cuba Gooding Jr. playing second fiddle to a team of wise cracking sled dogs to the strains of "Who Let the Dogs Out." Look Who's Talking fans marked their calendars, while the rest of us wondered just how the fuck Cuba Gooding, Jr. had gone from Best Supporting Actor to comedic foil for a team of jive talking huskies.
Well, he didn't. The scene with the talking dogs is actually from a brief dream sequence. The film is a zany comedy, sure, but it's a zany comedy about Gooding's emotional quest to find out who his real parents are. As mortified as Gooding must have been when he saw the trailers had hidden him behind CGI animals, imagine how depressed he was when the dogs opened at #1 in the box office. Actually, that makes us a little depressed too.
That, by the way, reminds us of the single most annoying thing trailers do...