Trailer culture is one that’s become pervasive in modern cinema. Fans clamor for every second of footage they can get from the most anticipated of coming releases. Even quick 30-second teasers are enough to get people excited, often leading only to more teasers and trailers a year or more in advance of the actual premiere date. That’s why now, more than ever, studios are pouring tons of energy into making their trailers perfect. They should show audiences what’s to come, but not give away too much. It should wet the appetite, but not provide the full-course meal. Fans should feel satiated until the next tidbit of footage, but not disappointed that a brief two minutes is all they have for now.
Not every film’s promotion team follows this time-honored formula, though. In the fervor of trying to build hype, sometimes they give away too much. In turn, they remove almost all incentive for audiences to see the movie when people can save their time and money by watching a three-minute trailer. This year especially has provided us with examples of this getting out of hand, and the promotion run for Terminator: Genisys was a prime example.
Things started out innocent enough, showing us the bare-bones of the newest installment attempting to reboot the franchise. But then the second full-length trailer debuted, giving away the biggest plot twist of the entire film: That John Connor had been turned into a full-fledged next-gen Terminator. It seemed an odd choice to allow that reveal to make its way into a trailer that appeared three months in advance of the premiere. Why would a director allow his or her movie to be spoiled so profoundly in the lead-up to its release? The answer: That decision is often taken out of the director’s hands.