All Aboard the Hype Train

I have always loved trailers for any media, be it TV shows or movies or video games.  Once every few weeks I find myself on the application “Front Row,” which provides every current trailer for movies coming to theaters in the next few years.  I slowly sift through each trailer until I’ve seen them all.  I love trailers.  My friends tell me I’m obsessed with the hype, that I fall into the marketing net every time and get excited for things regardless of their actual quality.  But to me, trailers are the essence of media: taking something and spinning it into something better, creating a masterpiece out of something that might not be.  It’s fantastic.  I love trailers.

In this post, I will comment on eight completely different trailers that range from horror to sci-fi action to family fun and comedy.  I will recognize the similarities and differences between these pieces, and then I will observe three trailer remixes and explain how each trailer was able to create a new genre and story out of something completely different, spin a comedy into a feel-good movie or a drama into a twisted stalker horror film.  Each remix has unique properties, but there are certain things that the creators do that help develop the new story.  So let’s begin our analysis.

On average, the normal movie trailer was about two minutes twenty seconds long, with the longest running two minutes forty-eight seconds and the shortest being one minute forty five seconds.  Music and sound effects changed drastically depending on what genre of movie the trailer was advertising.  For example,  Wolf On Wall Street presents loud, in-your-face rap music with thumping base to match with the quick screen cuts that flash throughout the trailer.  Lots of movement, luxury, boisterousness, and action fill the screen as the loud music and screaming voices bombard the senses.  However, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off plays easy going, joyful music in the background the whole time while voice overs consistently accompany medium shots of the characters.  For horror movies, sound effects are king.  Loud slams, screams, scrapes, and tears are bombarding the viewer throughout both horror trailers I watched, Paranormal Activity and 1408.  There was absolutely no music in the entire trailer for Paranormal Activity, and the only music to accompany 1408‘s trailer was within the first thirty seconds.  Light piano notes drummed quietly to introduce the trailer, before fading away for horror sequences and thumps in the night.

Of the eight movie trailers, only one trailer presented the voice over of a narrator, which was Love Actually.  As a movie with eight separate stories all being told at once, this made sense.  Only three other trailers used voice overs at all, and they were always coming from characters in the movie. Usually the shots were of some other footage unrelated to the character but relevant to the character’s speech, to cast some kind of impending doom (as in The Avengers when Nick Fury is voicing over the trailer) or Harry Potter (when professors or Dumbledore are warning of dangers at Hogwarts).  The rest of the trailers were always presenting the characters that were speaking whenever there was dialogue, or else there was no dialogue and instead a sequence of action and battle shots like in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, slow motion close ups to characters’ faces or medium shots of them posing in The Avengers, or hectic, fast shots of frantic movement and activity like in Wolf on Wall Street.  Very few of the real movie trailers used typography.  When they did, it was done loudly and largely.  Wolf on Wall Street used huge black typography on a bright yellow background to really contrast and capture the viewer’s attention.  The only other trailer that used any typography was Paranormal Activity, when the trailer presented critic’s ravings about the scariness of the movie.

The mixed trailers were very different.  As far as I could tell, lip synchronization was right on for all three.  That was particularly impressive for the Mrs. Doubtfire remix, because it used absolutely no voice overs and no typography throughout the entirety of the trailer.  It was amazing, easily my favorite.  The way it capitalized on normal to negative coloration and different transitions really helped make Mrs. Doubtfire seem like a horror movie.  It even voiced over dialogue from totally different parts of the movie for quick cut sequences with a variety of other images!  It was amazing.  It created motive for Robin Williams to become a crazy nanny stalker, while still seeming wholly possible.  Other remixes, like the Forrest Gump-to-obsessed-stalker remix or the Big Lebowski-to-sentimental-family-movie used typography and voice overs.  The Forrest Gump remix had a total of five different messages using typography and The Big Lebowski remix only used it four times, and to much better effect than the Forrest Gump remix trailer.  Each typography in The Big Lebowski remix was to transition to a new focus in the “film,” whereas in the Forrest Gump remix the words on-screen were just adjectives like “taunted” or “alone.”

Overall, the eight trailers I watched were great, and some of the remixes were even better.  The Mrs. Doubtfire remix was amazing, and in case you’re interested in watching it yourself it’s right here for you:

I hope you enjoyed this post, and keep an eye out for more to come!

Trailers: Wolf On Wall Street, Love Actually, The Avengers, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Paranormal Activity, 1408, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone

Remix Trailers: Mrs. Doubtfire (family comedy to horror movie), Forrest Gump (drama to horror stalker movie), The Big Lebowski (comedy to family drama)


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