Stop Asking Directors to Release Trailers

     January 16, 2017

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It’s nice when filmmakers are on social media. It’s cool to be able to reach out and ask them questions on the off chance that they might respond. They hold a wealth of interesting information on the films they’re working on, and more than that, it’s nice just to get a glimpse into the process of filmmaking directly from the director.

It’s also fine to be excited for upcoming movies. There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about a movie you can’t wait to see, and it’s understandable to want a glimpse of an upcoming picture to sate your appetite for the finished feature.

Unfortunately, sometimes fans can be a little too aggressive and a little too single-minded in their quest for a trailer. This past weekend, Logan director James Mangold went on Twitter to vent the following:

Keep in mind that it’s not like we’ve had zero Logan footage. In addition to a steady stream of images from the film, a really good trailer was released back in October. It gave people a strong indication of the film’s tone, a bit of the plot, and if you were excited for the new Wolverine movie, then you should be good.

James Gunn had to make a similar declaration back in September when “fans” wouldn’t stop bugging him for a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer:

Asking directors about when we’ll get a trailer is a waste of time because as both Gunn and Mangold point out, it’s not like they’re holding them, waiting for the perfect tweet to come along and then decide, “Yes, I will release this. Well done, @MarvelRulezDCSux.” Trailers are part of a carefully coordinated marketing strategy designed by the studio not for the benefit of people who are already going to see the movie, but to convince the widest audience possible to attend. That means finding the right time for the trailer to make a splash and attract people who aren’t already die-hard fans.

What’s more troubling is being so obsessed with a trailer in the first place. Trailers aren’t movies. Trailers can represent a movie, but they can just as easily be misleading. It’s cherry-picked footage that’s not designed to make you think or engage your critical mind, but to sell you a product. Trailers aren’t movies; they’re advertisements, and there’s no need to get up in arms over an ad, especially when you’ve already decided to make your purchase.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

To be fair, studios have encouraged this misplacement of priorities. Comic-Con, at its best, is a gathering of people who share fandoms and they can share their excitement with new people. In practice, it’s one big advertisement. The films you’re excited to see are almost never shown in their entirety. But you’re trained to mistake the ad with what the ad is promoting, and it becomes confused.  It becomes further confused when fandom is equated with people gathering to watch ads.

The trailer for Logan becomes as important as Logan, which means both the ad and the movie are equally disposable. Rather than sating people’s appetites for a new movie, it only makes people hungrier for the next ad and the next ad until the inevitable deluge and people complaining, “They’re showing too much!” It’s a bit of a no-win situation for everyone involved, and that includes the over-excited fan.

While it’s fine to enjoy trailers, don’t lose sight of what’s important. Directors like Mangold and Gunn are on social media, and they might answer your questions! They may want to talk to you about actual movies. They want to share your passion for film. They’re not glorified pitchmen who happened to direct a blockbuster. Angrily demanding that they give you another piece of advertising doesn’t make you a fan. It shows that you don’t respect the person who made the film you’re supposedly excited to see. If you’re getting obsessed over a trailer, you’ve lost sight of why you were interested in the movie in the first place.

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