The Reason Movie Trailers Give So Much Away



In the trailer for 1993’s Free Willy — a film about a boy trying to liberate a whale from captivity, audiences learn that……spoiler alert!!!……the boy is able to free Willy. In the preview for 1994’s Speed — which features Keanu Reeves trying to disarm a bomb placed on a bus by madman Dennis Hopper — viewers see the passengers watching the bus detonate from afar. Finally, in 2000’s Cast Away — possibly the most notorious preview in history — we see that Tom Hanks, who spent much of the movie stranded on a desert island, is able to escape. Movie trailers have certainly not gotten better about being subtle in recent years. In 2015’s Terminator: Genisys, the character John Connor……spoiler alert!!!……is revealed to be a machine. So why does Hollywood appear to be hell-bent on removing any traces of mystery from film previews. It turns our we only have ourselves to blame. Actually, we have focus groups to blame. Dozens of different versions of a trailer will be edited and then shown to test audiences in order to see what they find most appealing, and apparently the more revealing they are, the better the groups like them. In the end, trailers aren't really for those people who are anxious to see the movie; they're for people who are thinking they may or may not go, and one of the ways to get them to go is to show them a lot of the movie in a trailer. The lesson here? Don’t watch movie trailers!