The best movie trailers (i.e., the most stylistically or aesthetically admirable) emphasize impressions and intimations over specific plot reveals. The worst trailers basically offer compressed versions of the films they’re selling, delivering 80% or 90% of the story line and effectively saying “okay, you’ve now been told pretty much what the movie will be, and what 90% of the key plot points will be. If you want to see the longer version with those final plot points included, please come back and buy a ticket on opening day.”
But even the classiest trailers are obliged to include catchy lines and noteworthy visual moments. The initial trailer for Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps showed Michael Douglas‘s Gordon Gekko (a) receiving his 1987 cell phone as he gets out of prison and (b) checking out some rich black guys as they get into a shiny black limousine. The newish, month-old trailer uses the cell-phone gag as well. Which is too bad in a way because while it was amusing at first, it’s now been milked to death. So when we see this moment in the feature it won’t mean much. The audience will be saying “okay, fine…next?”
It led me ask why don’t filmmakers (directors, screenwriters, producers) dream up and shoot material that alludes to the basic components in a given film — tone, story, attitude — but which isn’t intended to be used in the feature cut. Material, in other words, that’s intended to be used strictly for trailers. Creative add-ons, content-related out-takes, advertising B-roll. In which case trailer-cutters wouldn’t be filching from the movie and killing the enjoyments of the original material.