I was going to write this post about how hard it must be for people to pick what film to watch if they don’t read reviews or follow specific actors or directors like I do. How do you know what’s good? How do you know what you’re going to enjoy? Are trailers really anything to go by? These are all questions I think about.
Instead, however, I’m going to write this post on film marketing, trailers, and modern film audiences today. It will relate to the above questions though, I hope.
Inspired by Chris Stuckmanns video about the problem with horror films today, I watched the film he recommended, The Babadook, and reviewed it here. It got me thinking about film marketing and how sometimes trailers, which lately seem to give away the whole film anyway, can actually set up a film for failure or negative thoughts from audiences.
The Babadook, a psychological horror film about grief and mental illness, was marketed as a supernatural horror film. But the film is not really about the physical monster of Mister Babadook. It’s about something much more real, more frightening and more meaningful. But the trailer doesn’t really give you a clue. It portrays it as something like the film Mama (which I hated), and to be honest, if I had not heard about it through Chris Stuckmann, and through the trailer instead, I probably wouldn’t of watched it.
This really makes me angry because it’s disappointing to a lot of people. Firstly, it’s disappointing to people like me who actually really appreciated and respected the film, but wouldn’t of actually watched it if I had seen the trailer. It’s falsely setting up that the film is going to be a typical jump horror about this scary monster, but it’s not that at all really. And so another group of people are disappointed, the people who wanted to see a typical horror film about a creepy monster and get a few jump scares in the process.
Of course, the production company don’t care about who’s going to be disappointed. They don’t care that the few people like me aren’t going to watch it. All they care about is that the people who go and see the supernatural horror films will go to pay and see it. If they don’t enjoy it, they don’t care. It will still make a lot of money because of how it was marketed to audiences. And that just drives me crazy.
It seems like trailers either misrepresent the film, give too much away, or actually end up better than the actual film because they include all the actual good parts in the trailer. Comedy films are terrible for this, including all of the actual comedy in the trailer…but in the actual film, there’s nothing else.
One of my favorite films, Drive, was also let down by it’s trailer.
The trailer portrays it as this action filled blockbuster with car chases and drugs, bank robberies and gangsters. And sure, it does have some of those elements in it, but not in the way it’s portrayed. Drive is actually a lot more than just an action film, it’s slow paced at times, thoughtful, meaningful. The characters are unique, even strange, and most importantly, authentic. Drive is not really a film most action lovers are going to enjoy. But they will go to see it because of the trailer, and then they will be disappointing. And the people who actually will enjoy it, might miss it because of how it’s marketed.
Thank God for reviewers really because without them I wouldn’t see half of the films I do see and end up loving. It’s just really sad that these films that people put a lot of effort and love and meaning into, get marketed as something they’re not by the big production companies.
Of course it’s all about the money. That’s why they do it, and they’re not going to stop as long as people keep watching trailers and going to the cinema, whether they’re disappointing or not, who cares, they can’t get their money back once you’ve seen the film.
But I suppose one good thing does come out of this. I get to read and watch great reviews by people who are passionate about films that are more than just in it for the money. And I also get to write reviews and who knows, maybe some one out there is reading and taking my recommendations on. A girl can only dream.
So in answer to my questions at the start of this post, I really don’t know how the average person picks a movie when trailers hardly represent the actual movie at all. I suppose they just wing it and see. But next time you watch a trailer, please remember that the film most likely, will not be what it seems.
Who knows, it might be so much better…or so so much worse.