The History Of Movie Trailers

The History Of Movie Trailers

The Film Industry Has Changed A Lot in a Century

You see them online, on TV, and every time you go to a movie theater. Trailers have become a huge part of our media experience, so I thought it would be interesting to take at look at how they’ve developed over the years.

Movie trailers originated around a hundred years ago, in a chain of theaters owned by Marcus Loew, the co-founder of the film studio MGM. Loew hired Nils Granlund as the advertising manager of the chain, who created the first theatrical trailer in 1912. Oddly enough, the trailer was not for a film, but an upcoming Broadway musical. Granlund edited together footage of the rehearsals, and screened them after the feature film. The practice was borrowed by film serials, which contained a brief trailer to hint at the events of the next installment.

By the 1930s, theaters became concerned that audiences would leave after a film rather than sit through advertisements (yes, before the days of post-credit scenes, people actually left once the movie was over). In order to force the audience to watch them, theaters began showing trailers before the movie had started. However, people were already used to calling them trailers, and the name stuck.

Early trailers were intended to build interest for the film, while revealing relatively little. By the 1950s, however, many films were promoted with increasingly long trailers, like the trailer for Ben-Hur or this 4 minute monstrosity for the 1956 epic Helen of Troy. These trailers were essentially condensed versions of the films they were promoting, revealing key scenes as a booming voiceover summarized most of the plot.

Director Stanley Kubrick played a major role in the transition away from the trailers of the Old Hollywood era. Kubrick hired graphic designer Pablo Ferro to edit the trailer for his 1964 classic satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Ferro used the quick-cutting technique he had pioneered on TV commercials, producing a bizarre mix of text and brief clips from the film.

When Ferro later designed the trailer for Kubrick's controversial 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, he pushed this technique further, with each clip lasting only a few frames. While most subsequent trailers were not nearly as avant-garde as the ones made by Kubrick and Ferro, they started a trend of trailers attempting to capture the tone of a film, rather than summarizing the whole story.

The original trailer for Star Wars is a good example of how the film industry learned from the trailers for Kubrick’s films. While it still used a dramatic voiceover akin to those of the Old Hollywood era, the majority of the trailer was composed of short clips taken out of context. The trailer gave audiences a look at the special effects and imagination that would make Star Wars a hit, but revealed as little as possible about the movie’s plot.

Another shift in the way trailers were made came thanks to legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, he recalled watching his then-employee Joe Dante (future director of Gremlins) editing a trailer. When Corman told him that the trailer was boring, Dante took footage of an exploding helicopter from another film and spliced it into the trailer. Dante and Corman would continue to use this clip in many other trailers in the future. Corman defended this tactic, saying “There is no law that says everything in the trailer has to be in the film.”

Hollywood was initially antagonistic toward television, as I touched on in my first article several months ago. Eventually, major studios had to accept that TV wasn’t going anywhere, and figure out how to use the growing industry to their advantage. Studios began producing TV Spots, short trailers that aired during commercial breaks, lasting from 30 seconds to a minute. Thanks to their brevity, TV spots were often cryptic and revealed very little about the films they were advertising. TV Spots became commonplace in the 1970s, and have remained a major form of film advertising to this day.

In 1998, many fans went to theaters just to see the trailer for The Phantom Menace and left before the actual feature started. In an amusing contrast to the 1930s, some theaters screened the trailer after films as well, in order to keep fans around. However, for fans with Internet access, there was another option. When the second trailer was released online, it was downloaded millions of times in a matter of weeks and numerous sites crashed from the unprecedented traffic.

Beyond simply being advertisements, trailers have become events in their own right. Trailer release dates are sometimes even announced beforehand to build up hype, like in this 5 second trailer announcement for Jason Bourne. The first full trailer for The Force Awakens (I know I’m talking about Star Wars a lot, but it’s a pretty big deal) received 112 million views in the first day, a record since topped by Fifty Shades Darker, and most recently by the upcoming remake of Beauty and the Beast, with over 127 million views in 24 hours.

However, while trailers grew less likely to spoil the plot over the years, that trend has reversed in recent years, in part due to the Internet. Where most people used to only see trailers when they went to a theater, studios are now able to vie for our attention 24/7. Today, it’s common for most major films to receive a teaser and two to four full length trailers in year leading up to release. Earlier this year, a supercut composed of every Batman v. Superman trailer went viral, revealing what was essentially a 15 minute summary of the film before it was even released. Having been spoiled too many times, I now try to avoid every bit of promotion after the first full trailer, as I’ve managed to do with Rogue One so far (that’s right, I slipped in another Star Wars reference, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me).

They’ve changed a lot in the last century, but time has proven trailers to be incredibly effective on us. Whether they’re getting us psyched for the next blockbuster or ruining the film goers experience, trailers are only just becoming a bigger part of the media we consume.

Cover Image Credit: Hashi Photos

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

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3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

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5 Things To Think About During Trans Week Of Visibility

You should always think of your trans friends, but especially during this week.


Trans week of visibility is March 25 through March 31, these are the five things you should keep in mind during those days (and at all times).

1. Using The Correct Pronouns Are Extremely Important

If you do not know which pronouns to use, just ask. When talking to a trans person do not assume their pronouns, hell- don't assume a cisgender persons pronouns it is always better to ask someones pronouns when you first start talking to them. Using the correct pronouns is a major step in accepting trans people and it makes us feel so much more accepted, loved, and respected. It isn't that hard to do, so just ask.

2. Dead Names Are Dead For A Reason

If you know a trans persons dead name, DO NOT SHARE IT WITH OTHERS. It is dead for a reason. When trans people change their name (or pronouns) it is to reflect how they truly feel on the inside and show it to the outside world. This is something that is personal and should not be shared with anyone. Deadnaming a trans person is violent. Once a trans person has told you "Hey, I go by this name now", use that new name. Embrace it, love it, accept it, move on.

3. Never Ask What Genitals Trans People Have Or Which Bathroom They Use

First off, this is none of your business and why do you want to know? This is very private information and unless you're a doctor performing surgery or a doctor treating a patient you do not need to know what genitals a person has. Nobody needs to know which bathroom a person uses. That's all I have to say about this. Just don't do either of these things.

4. The World Isn't That Safe For Us, So Please Try To Make It Safer

Most of us are afraid to come out, even if you have been by our side no matter what or you have made comments that you would support us if we were trans. We are terrified because we know what the world is like for trans people. We see that the world we live in is a scary place for minorities and we are one of them. Being trans isn't easy, but coming out is one of the most freeing feelings in the world because you finally get to let the world in on who you truly are. It's all a scary process. If we come out to you, or even if we don't- just try to make the world safer for trans people. It's our cisgender allies that make the world safer for us. Without you all there is no change.

5. Love Us, Respect Us, Support Us

That's all we ask.

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