The History Of Movie Trailers

The History Of Movie Trailers

The Film Industry Has Changed A Lot in a Century
611
views

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

Popular Right Now

I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

53967
views

Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

My AP Environmental Science Class' Cookie Mining Experiment Shows Why Capitalism Is Destroying The Planet

Who cares about the environment with profits this high?

6
views

With the AP exams in May approaching quickly, my AP Environmental Science class has wasted no time in jumping right into labs. To demonstrate the damage to the environment done by strip mining, we were instructed to remove the chocolate chips from cookies.

The experiment in itself was rather simple. We profited from fully or partially extracted chips ($8 for a full piece and $4 for a partial) and lost from buying tools, using time and area and incurring fines.

This might seem simplistic, but it showcased the nature of disastrous fossil fuel companies.

We were fined a $1 per minute we spent mining. It cost $4 per tool we bought (either tweezers or paper clips) and 50 cents for every square centimeter of cookie we mined.

Despite the seemingly overbearing charges compared to the sole way to profit, it was actually really easy to profit.

If we found even a partial chocolate chip per minute, that's $3 profit or utilization elsewhere. Tools were an investment that could be made up each with a partial chip, and clearly we were able to find much, much more than just one partial chip per tool.

Perhaps the most disproportionally easiest thing to get around were the fines. We were liable to be fined for habitat destruction, dangerous mining conditions with faulty tools, clutter, mess and noise level. No one in the class got fined for noise level nor faulty tools, but we got hit with habitat destruction and clutter, both of which added up to a mere $6.

We managed to avoid higher fines by deceiving our teacher by pushing together the broken cookie landscapes and swiping away the majority of our mess before being examined for fining purposes. This was amidst all of our cookies being broken into at least three portions.

After finding many, many chips, despite the costs of mining, we profited over $100. We earned a Franklin for destroying our sugary environment.

We weren't even the worst group.

It was kind of funny the situations other groups simulated to their cookies. We were meant to represent strip mining, but one group decided to represent mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is where companies go to extract resources from the tops of mountains via explosions to literally blow the tops off. This group did this by literally pulverizing their cookies to bits and pieces with their fists.

They incurred the maximum fine of $45. They didn't profit $100, however.

They profited over $500 dollars.

In the context of our environmental science class, these situations were anywhere from funny to satisfying. In the context of the real world, however, the consequences are devastating our environment.

Without even mentioning the current trajectory we're on approaching a near irreversible global temperature increase even if we took drastic measures this moment, mining and fracking is literally destroying ecosystems.



We think of earthquakes as creating mass amounts of sudden movement and unholy deep trenches as they fracture our crust. With dangerous mining habits, we do this ourselves.

Bigger companies not even related to mining end up destroying the planet and even hundreds of thousands of lives. ExxonMobil, BP? Still thriving in business after serial oil spills over the course of their operation. Purdue Pharma, the company who has misled the medical community for decades about the effects of OxyContin and its potential for abuse, is still running and ruining multitudes more lives every single day.

Did these companies receive fines? Yes.

But their business model is too profitable to make the fines have just about any effect upon their operation.

In our cookie mining simulation, we found that completely obliterating the landscape was much more profitable than being careful and walking on eggshells around the laws. Large, too-big-to-fail companies have held the future of our planet in their greedy paws and have likewise pulverized our environment, soon enough to be unable to return from.

Related Content

Facebook Comments