Movie trailers: all hype

I am semi-addicted to movie trailers. Each trailer is two minutes of semi-guilt-free procrastinationy goodness.  Trailers are useful: they allow you to distinguish between movies you want to watch and those you don’t without actually having to watch them in entirety. But I have found they have a dark side.

I watch, and enjoy, far more trailers than movies I end up watching. Trailers are part of the hype created around a movie before its release, which include viral videos and fictitious websites (for instance the campaign for the upcoming X-men movie I am already rather amped for this movie and a part of me is already dreading being disappointed). The excitement for the movie is a bit like a drug. The anticipation is actually enjoyable.  And it’s something separate from watching the actual movie.

I have less time for watching movies than watching trailers (duh) and so it often happens that by the time I get the opportunity to watch a movie whose trailer I had watched, the hype has passed. The excitement is no longer there. New movies, new trailers have taken their place. The movie has not changed. In theory I would still enjoy watching it, but I’m no longer on the anticipation drug and so I don’t watch it.

When I do end up watching the movie, I am often disappointed. The actual movie, being two or so hours long, doesn’t contain only the well-chosen exciting bits shown in the trailer. The resolution of the unrevealed plotlines is never as exciting as the trailer suggested. My expectations have been inflated to ridiculous levels and the movie just can’t compete. It’s (I suppose) like the low after a drug has worn off.

We have created a depressingly short-termist movie culture. If a movie doesn’t make a killing within its first day at the box office, it has flopped.  Once the movie comes out, the hype starts to die down. It’s like buying a new car – the resale value plummets the instant you drive it off the showroom floor. New release DVDs sell for two or three times the value of the older ones, even where the older movies are stunningly good. Movies cannot sell without hype because people can’t watch them unless they’re hyped up, no matter how good they are (yes, certainly there are exceptions. But how many?)

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