Movie trailers have the difficult job of convincing people to see a movie even when it isn't marketable (or good at all). So it's easy to understand the little tricks marketing pulls, like editing together unrelated lines of dialogue, or including the movie's only two funny scenes in their entirety.
But sometimes the trailer editors decide that if nobody will want to see the actual movie that got made, well, they'll just pretend it's something different entirely.
6Drive Aims for the Fast and the Furious Crowd, Gets Sued
It couldn't be simpler. Ryan Gosling drives. Ryan Gosling shoots. Ryan Gosling punches and stomps and kills. He flips cars and commits robberies and makes out with hot girls:
Hell yeah! He's the best driver in town, but the bad guys want him dead! Vroom vroom, bang, vroooooom! Bryan Cranston! Explosions! Ron Perlman! Vroooom! Drive!
The trailer is the equivalent of piecing together all of the tornado action from The Wizard of Oz and selling it as a Twister prequel. Drive is, for the most part, a slow, classy art film with occasional scenes of intense action perforating long shots of Gosling driving around the city, gazing silently ahead and contemplating life. Oh, sure, the actual film does feature car chases and guns -- but if you came for the last two, you might as well just watch the trailer. The marketing team carefully pieced together pretty much every frame of the Fast and the Furious-style mayhem from the film's runtime and said, "Hey, young males -- if you want to see more of this, buy a ticket, brah!" Those dudes then found themselves watching a movie that is about as far from fast or furious as you can get -- the film's lack of dialogue, elongated pauses, and lengthy music sequences gave birth to both critical acclaim and silly Internet memes.
Don't get us wrong -- as a film, all of this plays to Drive's advantage. The contrast between long, silent gazing shots and Gosling stomping a man to death in an elevator is memorable stuff. But anyone who showed up looking for the advertised high-octane action movie had to feel like they were the victim of a prank. One woman was so pissed off that she filed a lawsuit that demanded a refund on her ticket, as well as an end to the practice of releasing misleading movie trailers. Yeah, good luck with that, lady.
"Next you're going to tell me Ryan Gosling doesn't actually own that car. Do your lies ever end, Hollywood?"
While legal action may have been uncalled for, it's clear that many audience members expected less avant-garde statements about what it means to be human and more of Gosling teaming up with Vin Diesel to drive a car through a truck through a plane through another car. Ironically, Gosling's 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines tried hard to advertise itself in the vein of Drive, with Ryan Gosling driving around on a bike and contemplating the abyss, even though he's only in about a third of the movie. The outcome of Cracked's lawsuit on the matter is still pending.
5Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Won't Admit to Being a Musical
In this gory period drama by Tim Burton, Johnny Depp is a happy barber who has his life destroyed by the mysterious They. Horror ensues:
Depp's character returns for revenge years later looking suspiciously like Edward Scissorhands, reopens his barbershop, and starts slicing throats, while Helena Bonham Carter makes her mandatory appearance as ... someone.
And co-starring stupid hair.
Don't get us wrong -- the trailer accurately sums up the plot, showcases the principal characters, and provides dialogue in a satisfactory context. However, it leaves out one key element of the movie: It's a full-fledged musical. And we're going to guess that a whole bunch of goth kids looking for a dark period slasher film were confused as shit the first time somebody broke into song.
To be fair, Sweeney Todd is an adaptation of a popular Broadway show, but the trailer's absolute refusal to even allude to a musical component is awfully suspicious. After all, it's not like successful movie musicals were unheard of at the time -- 2007 also saw theatrical releases of Rent and Hairspray, but apparently John Travolta in drag and a fat suit serenading Christopher Walken is somehow more marketable than Depp accompanying his throat-slashing with a jaunty tune.
He even poses like he's about to break into song.
The studio's tricky advertising (which included TV spots equally lacking in musical theatricality) was apparently due to marketing figuring that a gory revenge flick where Johnny Depp plots to slice up Professor Snape might appeal to the average audience more than a period musical where Jamie Campbell Bower, best known as Minor Vampire #4 from the Twilight films, won't stop singing about how in love he is with some girl he saw the other day. But that's the kind of decision that the filmmakers have to make. You don't get to pretend your movie is a different goddamned genre at the promotion stage.
Actually ... you totally do. The film was a box office hit that received three Oscar nominations. Tim Burton, having learned the valuable lesson that blatantly lying with your trailers pays off, went on to make movies with trailers that falsely suggested they might not be terrible.
Warner Bros. Pictures
"This time he's a vampire locked away by another vampire!"
"Fine, whatever, just let us know how much money it makes."