These days, movie trailers are a big deal. Designed by marketing geniuses who train for decades in isolated marketing monasteries, trailers are purpose-built to be shared and discussed on the internet, employing every known trick they can in an effort to go viral.
But they didn't use to be treated that seriously, as evidenced by the following completely baffling trailers made for some very high-profile movies ...
7 The Original Star Wars Trailers Were Surprisingly Half-Assed
It's hard to imagine a time when people didn't know what the hell Star Wars was, but way back in 1976, George Lucas had to come up with some way to sell his space opera to America. The resultant trailer was decidedly less slick than what you might imagine.
Right off the bat, things aren't normal. It starts off with STAR WARS scrolling forward, like it's supposed to -- only it's not the cool logo we all know and love, but just the words printed in some editor's default typeface.
It feels like a knockoff of itself.
As the words painfully creep toward the screen, like an eye test in reverse, it cuts to some sort of exciting scenes from the movie. It all looks kind of rough, to be honest. The special effects in particular all look a little ropey. The blaster fire looks like gunshots -- less like a galaxy far, far away and more like, well, anywhere in the U.S., unfortunately.
"Cut! Great take, Phil ... Ph-Phil?"
And the lightsabers weren't colored in yet, making these wizened Jedi look like they were dueling with fluorescent light bulbs.
Or two angry old dudes fighting at a Burning Man rave.
There's a voiceover as well, but it's flat, uninterested, and incredibly vague. "The story of a boy, a girl, and a universe" is an accurate description of about 100 percent of all movies ever made. The whole thing meanders along until the end, when the title randomly explodes -- presumably because the rebels found out that Helvetica Bold has a vulnerable thermal exhaust port.
And a teenage Micheal Bay suddenly knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
So that's kind of lame. Surely, they got their act together by the time The Empire Strikes Back came out, right? Nope. The first trailer for Empire was nothing but a bunch of concept art set to music.
Wow, that sucks. We should retroactively all stop watching these movies.
6 Citizen Kane And Its Needless Ballyhoo
Let's go back even further, to an era when people really didn't understand how trailers worked. Citizen Kane was made in 1941, and is generally considered to be one of the best movies ever made. Now check out its stupid trailer.
It begins with Orson Welles, a big radio star at the time, talking into the world's most dramatically lit microphone.
Welles missed out on that Instagram gravy train.
He introduces Citizen Kane as a "coming attraction," delights himself with some wordplay for a bit, and then adds, "speaking of attractions," and then this happens:
And a teenage Hugh Hefner suddenly knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
Like a creepy uncle, Welles goes on: "The chorus girls are certainly an attraction. But frankly, ladies and gentleman, we're just showing you the chorus girls for purposes of ... ballyhoo. It's pretty nice ballyhoo." This is another way of saying that the chorus girls do not appear in the film, and in fact have absolutely nothing to do it.
Anyway, the trailer goes on, and Welles begins introducing the real cast in increasingly ridiculous ways.
Not actually a scene in the movie. Should be, but isn't.
The latter half of the trailer is a little more conventional, and shows clips of characters discussing the titular Kane, making both him and the movie sound somewhat interesting. But it's hard to get past that opening stretch, and the knowledge that possibly the greatest American film of all time sold itself using a montage of screwball zaniness not seen in a single frame of the movie proper.