When advertising a movie, a delicate balance of information is required to properly tantalize the audience. If you give the audience too little information, they probably won’t show up – a perfect example of this approach is the trailer to Disney’s Tomorrowland. Meanwhile, if you give too many moments away in your trailer, you’ll ruin any sort of mystery or intrigue present in the film’s plot. It’s been happening a lot in recent trailers, with this year being a particularly spoiled year for watching coming attractions.
As such, we’d like to draw some attention to 10 of the worst examples of showing and telling too damned much to the audience before they even have a chance to buy their tickets. To be fair, we’re going to warn you that there are massive spoilers on display in the following list, mostly coming from the trailers that we’re about to show you. However, we’re going to also explain why the information given is so spoilerific, so exercise caution. Otherwise, follow us into the darkness of the cinema, as we shed light on the trailers that may as well have been movies themselves.
When anyone talks about the basic premise of Cast Away, 9 times out of 10 they get it right by describing the film as Tom Hanks’ battle for survival on a tropical island, using only his wits to survive. If you were to watch the film without watching the trailer, that is the film you’d be treated to; but instead, the trailer for the film is cut to tell the story of what happens, "when you have to start over." Whoever edited this trailer should have been forced to do just that.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. engages in various twists of subterfuge and agents working for more than one party than originally specified. The greatest piece of mystery, especially for fans of the original TV show, is how the U.N.C.L.E. team forms by the end of this film. The folks behind the film’s marketing didn’t seem to understand that, as they felt including the last line of the film in the trailer would be a cute little button to all the action and comedy that had come before it. Instead, it basically ruins Hugh Grant’s arc of mystery, prompting you to expect him to pop up throughout the rest of the film.
When Terminator Genisys dropped the knowledge that John Connor was a robot sent back from the future, we didn’t bat an eye because we thought there would be another twist. To a certain extent, we were right, as Matt Smith was later revealed to be the physical embodiment of Skynet, now renamed Genisys, and ready to unleash himself upon the world as a new OS. Still, watching the film in its entirety, you can see that the reveal would have been a hell of a twist if they’d kept the audience in the dark – making for a possibly more entertaining ride.
If you haven’t seen Spider-Man 3, you need to watch this trailer! Pretty much every major beat that works in that craptastic spectacle is spoiled in this trailer, from Sandman’s transformation to Peter’s battle against (and shedding of) the black symbiote costume. All you’re really missing is James Franco’s soap opera arc of pretending to be an amnesiac in order to be a mustache twirling villain, Topher Grace’s horrific transformation into Venom, and *gasp* Peter and Mary Jane breaking up. For the first, and probably only, time on this list – we’d like to thank the marketing department for providing us with a tool to prevent future generations from having to even experience Spider-Man 3.
The problem of trailers spoiling the big beats of a film isn’t a new one, and with a line as iconic as "Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown," Roman Polanski should have saved his outrage and cut the nose of the person in charge of crafting the trailer that blows the nuance of such an enigmatic line. The part that sucks about this trailer is, it does a hell of a job selling the film beautifully enough without spoiling that other big twist of the film. So for the most part, this trailer still holds up pretty damned well. But to include that final line as the cherry on top of the sundae – as well as the footage from the finale, it’s a total betrayal of all the care they took to tap dance around any particulars in the first place.
Ant-Man is a project that seemed to already have two strikes against it coming out of the gate, what with Edgar Wright’s dramatic departure and Avengers: Age Of Ultron turning out to be a mediocre opening act. Still, Peyton Reed’s film persevered to become an "ok" movie going experience, and it was in no part thanks to one of the trailers that gives away the entire third act climax. Sure, audiences laughed to see miniature combatants doing battle on top of a toy train, but do you think they were laughing when they realized that they had already seen the big final set piece?
Horror movies rely on suspense, and one of the best ways to generate suspense is to keep your audience in the dark about certain twists for as long as possible. In the case of Sinister, the film teases out the exact nature of the threat known as Bughuul, leaving the big connecting pieces to be unveiled in a sort of cameo appearance by Vincent D’Onofrio. At least, that’s how it would have played if the film hadn’t included said cameo in the damned theatrical trailer. Instead, you have now sat through a film where you know exactly what’s going on and who’s responsible, and you’re just waiting to see if the film has anything else up its sleeve to surprise you.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
Imagine you’re a kid, and you’ve just seen this trailer for The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water. You’re probably expecting almost a full film of Spongebob and his friends venturing into our world, and eventually becoming superheroes in order to stop Antonio Banderas’ evil plot. Now, imagine sitting through two acts of a movie that basically rehashes the plot of that other Spongebob movie you saw as a kid, only to get to a relatively measly portion of film that does exactly what the trailer promises. If you think you’re mad now, try imagining yourself as a parent forced to take their kids to see the movie, only to realize the same thing.
In 2008, Screen Gems decided to release an American remake to the Spanish language horror film [REC]. What happened during that film wasn’t explained to U.S. audiences... until the trailer for the remake dropped in theaters. At that point, you pretty much got a total rundown of the events that take place throughout the 89-minute runtime for this found-footage bore. When your trailer blows every beat of your film’s narrative, it’s criminal; but when you include the final moment of the entire film right in the trailer, it’s downright monstrous.
We end our rundown with probably the worst mistake anyone can make with a trailer, especially when that trailer is for a "reimagining" of a classic. While everyone knows the prom night sequence from Carrie like the back of their hand, that doesn’t mean that the remake would have taken the exact same route with engaging in retelling the story’s ending. Including the prom night sequence in the trailer for the 2013 remake not only spoils the appeal for any fans of the classic film to go see the film, it also ruins the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen the original.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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