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Nothing in this fine world of film geekery gets you more pumped than a trailer for an upcoming movie. Hollywood knows this hence we observe a pre-trailer hype-campaign of slogans such as “NEW TRAILER DROPS TOMORROW” and “OFFICIAL TRAILER COMING”. And it doesn’t take much to whip the masses into a frenzy when it’s the next installment of a beloved franchise or this Summers big-budget blockbuster (myself most certainly included).
However, a worrying trend seems to be developing lately and it’s come time to ask – ARE WE BEING SOLD LIES?
Let’s get real here – obviously some films become victims of studio involvement – whether that be because of disputes over film length (such as Edward Norton’s The Incredible hulk (2008) which lost its ‘Arctic’ and ‘Therapy session’ trailer scenes to the cutting room floor due to disagreements), or rigorous reshooting which may change the film completely (notably the train wreck that was 2016’s Suicide Squad).
It doesn’t appear to be a new trend but it does seem to be more frequent or at least blatant of late. Is this because modern audiences are demanding more for their money? Or as we seem to be covering a lot – a decrease in audience attention spans? Oh look a squirrel!
The movie trailer is there to sell the movie right? The product. It’s an advertisement. The argument could be made that when a certain aspect of the product (viewed in its advertisement) is very appealing and makes us want to purchase the product, then as a consumer certain expectations of the product must be prevalent. Still with me? As in, if you buy a red toilet brush and the product you receive is a blue trombone then you’re going to be slightly annoyed (actually, maybe not. That sounds awesome. Not a great analogy but you follow me right?).
Seemingly the most guilty of this crime is 2016’s Star Wars : Rogue One which clocks misleading footage at a rate too numerous to record. Obviously extensive reshoots are largely to blame for this. The film was apparently taken apart and reassembled to make it work so it’s a fair conclusion that “the finished product may differ”.
(Notablely – Jyn and the Tie Fighter. Jyn in the Imperial corridor. Jyns “Rebel” line. Beach battles. Saw Gerrera for the most part)
Star Wars Force Awakens (2015) second trailer fed us a Luke Skywalker voice over (Luke having a good brag about how Force sensitive his family was) and some narratively and contextually misleading shots involving Maz, Leia and a Lightsabre.
While it could be argued that this is just fanboy outrage or run-of-the-mill nerd gurning – what was on sale was a Star Wars film with Luke Skywalker in it. That’s the sales pitch being pushed. And while he was in the film – his contribution was under 40 seconds! (His character actually has longer screen time in Revenge of the Sith!)
Sam Raimi’s Spiderman (2002) obviously retracted its World Trade Center ‘helicopter/giant web’ footage from its trailer after the events 9/11. Which is fair. But how cool would that have been within the context of the plot? The newer Spiderman Homecoming (2017) is guilty of selling us an Ironman/Spidey team-up in the trailer where they can be seen flying/swinging along together. Argument could be made for promotional license (much like Luke’s voice over in the Force awakens trailer) but where do you draw the line? The area is so grey it’s…………….. grey.
Predators (2010) mis-sold the amount of Predators in the ‘red dots targeting’ scene. A pitiful 3 Predators were in the finished product and not the 15 we were promised or at least were insinuated to be in the trailer.
Films like Anchorman (and its not-as-good sequel) can almost be excused for this mis-selling. Their aim seemingly to be incorporating some of the vast ad-libbing and character riffing they had amassed. It’s not exactly fair but I see no harm as long as it doesn’t significantly alter the product being sold.
Below we’ve made a selection of other false advertisers. See if you can spot what their specific crimes were :
Point Break (1991)
Terminator 2 (1991)
Batman and Robin (1997)
The Avengers (1998) (NO, not THAT Avengers)
The Truman Show (1998)
The Transporter (2002)
King Kong (2005)
Black Christmas (2006)
Star Trek (2009)
Terminator Salvation (2009)
X-men Origins : Wolverine (2009)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
Fantastic four (2015) (Read a review of the film itself HERE)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Most recently I found myself getting annoyed that Marvel advertised Hulk (without IronMan armour) running beside the other Avengers in Wakanda in Infinity War when in fact this scene was never part of the film. A small matter, I know, but this was the product i was sold.
This is the very reason why new computer games and consoles are required to carry a disclaimer on their advertising. The argument is not quite as clear-cut as the computer game advertising one : No one wants a disclaimer stating NOT ACTUAL FILM FOOTAGE, do they??? But at some point the studios need to state that what we’re seeing is not what we’re going to be seeing.
It’s equivalent to the back cover detailing a different book