Film trailer

Film trailer

:"Trailer" can also mean: extra blank film at the end of a film strip for winding it off in a camera or projector; extra blank film at the beginning is called "leader".Trailers or previews are film advertisements for films that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema, on whose screen they are shown. The term "trailer" comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a film programme. [cite web
title=Why are they called "trailers" if they're shown before the movie?
publisher=The Straight Dope
] That practice did not last long, because patrons tended to leave the theater after the films ended, but the name has stuck. Trailers are now shown before the film (or the A movie in a double feature program) begins.

Besides in front of theatrical releases, movie trailers have now become extremely popular on the internet. Of some 10-billion videos watched online annually, movie trailers rank #3, after news and user-created video. [cite web
title=AWFJ Opinion Poll: All About Movie Trailers


The first trailer shown in a U.S. movie theater was in November 1913, when Nils Granlund, the advertising manager for the Marcus Loew theater chain, produced a short promotional film for the musical "The Pleasure Seekers," opening at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. Loew adopted the practice, which was reported in a wire service story carried by the Lincoln (NE) "Daily Star" describing it as "an entirely new and unique stunt," and that "moving pictures of the rehearsals and other incidents connected with the production will be sent out in advance of the show, to be presented to the Loew’s picture houses and will take the place of much of the bill board advertising." [“Movies Score on Legit in New York;” Lincoln (NE) "Daily Star"; November 9, 1913; Page 25] Granlund was also first to introduce trailer material for an upcoming motion picture, using a slide technique to promote an upcoming film featuring Charlie Chaplin at Loew's Seventh Avenue Theatre in Harlem in 1914. [Blondes, Brunettes, and Bullets, Granlund, N.T.; Van Rees Press, NY, 1957, Page 53]

Up until the late 1950s, trailers were mostly created by National Screen Service and consisted of various key scenes from the film being advertised, often augmented with large, descriptive text describing the story, and an underscore generally based on the musical score from the film. Most trailers had some form of narration as well. Those that did have narration used voices.

In the early-1960s, the face of motion picture trailers changed. Textless, montage trailers and quick-editing became popular, largely due to the arrival of the "new Hollywood" and techniques that were becoming increasingly popular in television. Among the trend setters were Stanley Kubrick with his montage trailers for "Lolita", ', and '. Kubrick's main inspiration for the "Dr. Strangelove" trailer was the short film "Very Nice, Very Nice" by Canadian film visionary Arthur Lipsett.

In 1964, Andrew J. Kuehn distributed his independently-produced trailer for "Night of the Iguana", using stark, high-contrast photography, fast-paced editing and a provocative narration by a young James Earl Jones. His format was so successful, he began producing this new form of trailer with partner Dan Davis.

Kuehn opened the west coast office of Kaleidoscope Films in 1968 and Kuehn and his company became a major player in the trailer industry for the next three decades. As Hollywood began to produce bigger blockbuster films and invest more money in marketing them, directors like Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone and Barbra Streisand began to depend on Kuehn and Kaleidoscope for their ability to create the best trailers theater-goers could see.

Kuehn alumni include leading trailer makers and marketing creatives. Top trailer companies have all been run by former Kaleidoscope creatives, like The Cimarron Group (Chris Arnold), Ant Farm, Aspect Ratio (Mark Trugman), Trailer Park (Benedict Coulter) and Motor Entertainment, run by Greg McClatchy, who previously managed the film marketing division at 20th Century Fox. Michael Camp headed the trailer department at Paramount Pictures, Tom Kennedy at MGM, Jeff Werner and Vince Arcaro all started their own successful trailer companies and Bob Harper began his career as a messenger at Kaleidoscope before becoming a producer and quickly Vice-Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and, in 2007, Chairman of Regency Entertainment. Top industry trailer composer John Beal credits his career success to his thirty-year collaboration with Kuehn. [ [ Andrew J. Kuehn, Jr. biography] ]

In earlier decades of cinema, trailers were only one part of the pre-feature entertainment which included cartoon shorts and serial adventure episodes. These earlier trailers were much shorter and often consisted of little more than title cards and stock footage. Today, longer, more elaborate trailers and commercial advertisements have replaced other forms of pre-feature entertainment and in major multiplex chains, about the first twenty minutes after the posted showtime is devoted to trailers.


Trailers consist of a series of selected shots from the film being advertised. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract an audience to the film, these excerpts are usually drawn from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film but in abbreviated form and without producing spoilers. For this purpose the scenes are not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the film. A trailer has to achieve that in less than two and a half minutes, the maximum length allowed by theaters. Each studio or distributor is allowed to exceed this time limit once a year, if they feel it is necessary for a particular film.

Some trailers use "special shoot" footage, which is material that has been created specifically for advertising purposes and does not appear in the actual film. The most notable film to use this technique was "", whose trailer featured elaborate special effects scenes that were never intended to be in the film itself. Dimension Films also shot extra scenes for the "Black Christmas" trailer, but these scenes are similarly absent from the theatrical release. A trailer for the 2002 blockbuster "Spider-Man" had an entire action sequence especially constructed that involved escaping bank robbers in a helicopter getting caught in a giant web between the World Trade Center's two towers. However, after the September 11, 2001 attacks the studio pulled it from theaters.

One of the most famous "special shoot" trailers is that used for the 1960s thriller "Psycho", which featured director Alfred Hitchcock giving viewers a guided tour of the Bates Motel, eventually arriving at the infamous shower. At this point, the soft-spoken Hitchcock suddenly throws the shower curtain back to reveal Vera Miles with a blood-curdling scream.

The people who create trailers often begin their work while the movie is still being shot. Since the edited movie does not exist at this point, the trailer editors work from rushes or dailies. The trailer may be created at agencies (such as The Cimarron Group, MOJO, The Ant Farm, Aspect Ratio, Trailer Park) while the movie itself is being cut together at the studio. Thus, the trailer may contain footage that is not in the final movie, or the trailer editor and the movie editor may use different takes of a particular shot. Another common technique is including music on the trailer which does not appear on the movie's soundtrack. This is nearly always a requirement, as trailers and teasers are created long before the composer has even been hired for the film score — sometimes as much as a year ahead of the movie's release date — while composers are usually the last creative people to work on the film. For instance, "Forrest Gump" used music from "" for its trailer while the 2008 superhero film "Iron Man" featured the song of the same name by Black Sabbath in its promotion.

Some trailers that incorporate material not in the movie are particularly coveted by collectors, especially trailers for classic films. For example, in a trailer for "Casablanca" the character Rick Blaine says, "OK, you asked for it!" before shooting Major Strasser, an event that does not occur in the final film.

Parts of a trailer

Trailers tell the story of a movie in a highly condensed fashion that must have maximum appeal. In the decades since movie marketing has become a large industry, trailers have become highly polished pieces of advertising, able to present even poor movies in an attractive light. Some of the elements common to many trailers are listed below.

Plot summary

Most trailers have a three-act structure similar to a feature-length film. They start with a beginning (act 1) that lays out the premise of the story. The middle (act 2) drives the story further and usually ends with a dramatic climax. Act 3 usually features a strong piece of "signature music" (either a recognizable song or a powerful, sweeping orchestral piece). This last act often consists of a visual montage of powerful and emotional moments of the film and may also contain a cast run if there are noteworthy stars that could help sell the movie.


Voice-over narration is used to briefly set up the premise of the movie and provide explanation when necessary ("In a world..."). Since the trailer is a highly condensed format, voice-over is a useful tool to enhance the audience's understanding of the plot. Some of the best-known, modern-day trailer voice-over artists are Don LaFontaine, Harlan Rector, Andy Geller, Hal Douglas, Mark Elliot, George DelHoyo, Peter Cullen, Ashton Smith, John Garry, Jim Cummings, Ben Patrick Johnson, and Bill J. Lloyd. Classic voice-over artists in movie trailers of the 1950s and 1960s included Art Gilmore, Knox Manning, Reed Hadley, Fred Foy, Karl Weber, and Bob Marcato. Hollywood trailers of the classic film era were renowned for clichés such as "Colossal!", "Stupendous!", etc. Some trailers have used voice over clichés for satirical effect. This can be seen in trailers for films such as "The Comedian" and "". [ [ "Comedian" trailer] ] [ [ YouTube: "Tenacious D in: the Pick of Destiny" trailer] ]


Music helps set the tone and mood of the trailer. Usually the music used in the trailer is not from the film itself (the film score may not have been composed yet). The music used in the trailer may be:
*Music from the score of other movies. Most-used titles include "Come See the Paradise" by Randy Edelman, "Aliens" by James Horner, "Stargate" by David Arnold, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" by Wojciech Kilar, and "Backdraft" by Hans Zimmer. [ [] ]
*Popular or well known music, often chosen for its tone, appropriateness of a lyric, or recognizability. The most often used of these is "O Fortuna" from "Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. [ [] ]
*"Library" music previously composed specifically to be used in advertising by an independent composer. Some big trailer music companies are X-Ray Dog, Immediate Music, Pfeifer Broz. Music, Brand X Music, Audiomachine, Future World Music and Epic Score.
*Specially composed music. One of the most famous Hollywood trailer music composers is John Beal, who began scoring trailers in the 1970s and, in the course of a thirty-year career, created original music for over 2,000 movie trailer projects, including 40 of the top-grossing films of all time, such as "Star Wars", "Forrest Gump", "Titanic", "Aladdin", "Braveheart", "Ghost", "The Last Samurai" and "The Matrix".
*Songs, which may include knock-offs of recognizable (but expensive to license) songs.

Cast, crew, and studio information

*A cast run is a list of the stars that appear in the movie. If the director or producer is well-known or has made other popular movies, they often warrant a mention as well. Most trailers conclude with a billing block, which is a list of the principal cast and crew. It is the same list that appears on posters and print publicity materials, and also usually appears on-screen at the beginning (or end) of the movie.
*Studio production logos are usually featured near the beginning of the trailer. Until the late 1970s, they were put only at the end of the trailer. Often there will be logos for both the production company and distributor of the film.

Technical elements

*Sound mix: many movie trailers are presented in Dolby Digital or any other multichannel sound mix. Scenes including sound effects and music that are enhanced by stereophonic sound are therefore the focus point of many modern trailers.
*Video resolution: movie trailers are presented in the same resolution as the feature film (namely 35mm film). On HDTV channels (such as Universal HD) movie trailers are presented in HDTV and Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound.

United States MPAA rating cards

These rating cards appear at the head of movie trailers in the United States. For information about the MPAA ratings, see Motion Picture Association of America.

A green band is an all-green graphic at the beginning of the trailer, usually reading "The following PREVIEW has been approved for ALL AUDIENCES by the Motion Picture Association of America," and sometimes including the movie's MPAA rating. This signifies that the trailer adheres to the standards for motion picture advertising outlined by the MPAA, which includes limitations on foul language and violent, sexual, or otherwise objectionable imagery.

A yellow band is a yellow graphic that reads "The following PREVIEW has been approved ONLY for AGE-APPROPRIATE internet users by the Motion Picture Association of America" (for example, the trailers for "Halloween", "Burn After Reading" and "The Strangers"). The MPAA also mandates that trailers not exceed two minutes and thirty seconds in length, and each major studio is given one exception to this rule per year.

Trailers that do not adhere to these guidelines may be issued a red band, which reads "The following PREVIEW has been approved for RESTRICTED AUDIENCES ONLY by the Motion Picture Association of America," and may only be shown before an R-rated, NC-17-rated, or unrated movie. ("The Amityville Horror", "Pineapple Express", "Superbad", and "Not Another Teen Movie" carry this banner.) [ Amityville trailer] Thanks to the rising popularity of red band trailers, Regal Entertainment Group announced on March 2008 that they would begin allowing red band trailers to play in their theaters. [cite web|url=|Publisher=CanMag|accessdate=2008-03-17|title=Regal to Allow Red Band Trailers] With the demand for restricted trailers on the rise, the MPAA had to quickly decide how to control red band trailers that appeared online. Like they do for video game trailers, the MPAA requires that all red band trailers open to an agegate, which prevents underage users from watching.

Use of trailers in other media

The concept of the trailer format has spread to other non-cinema media as well. Trailers for computer games have especially become popular, sometimes the video game trailer are better than most movie trailers.Comic Book trailers have also become very popular among comic book fans. Marvel Comics have have been on the forefront of this type of marketing on the web site

Awards for trailers

Every year there are two main events that give awards to outstanding movie trailers: The Key Art Awards, presented by the "Hollywood Reporter", and The Golden Trailer Awards. While the Golden Trailer Awards allow only trailers to be entered in the competition, the Key Art Awards pick winners in all creative parts of movie advertising, from trailers and TV spots to posters and print ads. The yearly Key Art Awards ceremony is often held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.
* [ Key Art Awards]
* Golden Trailer Awards []


ee also

*Teaser trailer
*Re-cut trailers
*Trailer (book)

External links

* [ TrailerStats - an online trailer credit database]
* [ - Download Latest Trailers]
* [ An Online Interactive Trailer Maker for Students]
* [ The World Famous Movie Trailer Maker]
* [ A Comprehensive History of the Form]
* [ Coming Attractions: The History of the Movie Trailer (2006)]
* [ Biography, Trailer Producer Andrew J. Kuehn]
* [ Film Score Monthly: The Art of Scoring Trailers]
* [ - Watch both new and old trailers]
* [ Upcoming Movie Trailers]
* [ Arthouse and Commercial Movie Trailers]
* [ - Trailer & Teaser Library]
* [ Trailer Database]

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