Movie Trailers Are Killing Movies

A great movie trailer can single handedly turn a movie into a success story–like that genius Cloverfield trailer in 2007 that didn’t say what the title of the movie was. But it’s more common these days, I’d argue, for a trailer to have the opposite impact. A generic trailer can so thoroughly dampen hype for a film that something like Furiosa, a great movie everybody likes that’s a sequel to a great movie everybody likes, could become a major box office disappointment.

Furiosa was the second big financial letdown in May after The Fall Guy kicked the month off with a similarly low-key box office take, and both will end up coming in well below the numbers that summer blockbusters are supposed to have–neither of these films will get to the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. There are a lot of factors playing a part in why the summer has been so dismal thus far, but this my favorite: the trailers for those movies were awful.

In technical terms, the ads for The Fall Guy and Furiosa are fine. They’re slickly edited, and they played up the cool action that those films have and all that. But they lacked something that’s just as important as big explosions for potential audiences: information. The Fall Guy was marketed on being a movie that Ryan Gosling does action scenes in–but if you wanted to actually know what it was about, or what the title meant, you’d have to google it. Furiosa, likewise, was sold as little more than Fury Road again but with new actors, with the trailers doing little to demonstrate how immensely different it is in structure. Furiosa is an epic tale that takes place over 18 years–it’s the Godfather Part 2 of Mad Max, basically, but the ads hid everything that made it different from the last one.

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