The Magic of the Movie Trailer

Movie trailers are critical to the filmmakers, as it is the first glimpse of the film the public views. Some judge whether they will watch a movie solely based on their opinion of the trailer. Thus, it is crucial for the trailer to keep the viewer both engaged and satisfied throughout their viewing. In analyzing eight different movie trailers, the target that filmmakers are shooting for is quite clear.

Seven of eight films examined were animated and classified the “Kids and Family” genre of iTunes. The last film, Sausage Party (Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, 2016) was also animated but classified under the genre of “comedy.” All of the movie trailers lasted between 1:00 and 2:30, with the “sweet spot” just around two minutes long. Trailers in that sweet spot seemed to be the perfect length to keep the audience engaged. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, 2003) was the shortest clocking in at just one minute and two seconds, and Madagascar (Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, 2005) was the longest coming in at two minutes and twenty-nine seconds. The majority of the trailers were fast paced, while the rest being at a medium to slow pace. The faster paced movies seemed to be much more engaging, especiallywhen combined with shorter shots. Interestingly, the longest trailer, Madagascar, contained the longest shots and was one of the slowest paced movies of the set inspected.

Another interesting element was that only half of the trailers had narration. The ones without narration relied on the text between scenes to get the viewer through it. The narrators that were in the movies were all deep and smooth male-voices. They all spoke at a relatively slow pace and were very easy to understand. All of the trailers had music, and it was mostly upbeat. All of the music did a great job at reflecting the mood of the scenes as well as keeping the audience engaged. The film Megamind (Tom McGrath, 2010) was one of the few trailers with sound effects that stood out. These sound effects can help add some more depth to the trailer. All of the trailers contained text that was easy to read. The text in each trailer followed the theme of the movie with color and font. For example, Finding Nemo had text and background that looked like it was underwater, which worked out perfectly for it. The best text used was in the trailer of Sausage Party. It had a simple black background with big, bold font that was in a white and dark neon green color.

In addition to the eight movie trailer, three recut trailers were also analyzed. These recut trailers were made by various people, not the original filmmakers. All of the recut trailers did not have audio synchronization. Most of the sound that was played did not match any of the characters lips. This makes recutting the trailers much easier and doable. Each recut trailers viewed actually “told the story” and were easy to follow and understand. One of the trailers used solely text to get their message across, but and one used original narration for its message. The narration makesit much easier to get the message across, however, the narration voice was not as deep and smooth as most movies, which can through the viewer off. The recut trailer of Mrs. Doubtfire uses no text, except for the title. It is amazingly able to convey the story with it. The recut trailer of Mrs. Doubtfire will be embedded below. In the recut trailer of The Dark Knight, typography is only used four times. For a trailer lasting around two minutes, it seemed like a subtle amount of text.


Trailers: Sausage Party, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Over the Hedge, Shrek, Madagascar, Inside Out, Megamind.

Recut Trailers: Mrs. Doubtfire (comedy converted to horror), Willy Wonka (comedy converted to horror), The Dark Knight (action converted to romantic comedy).

This entry was posted in Blog #4. Deconstructing Movie Trailers. Bookmark the permalink.

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