Discussion Post: Why are Previews Giving Away the Full Film
This summer, a friend and I went to see the movie Spy in the theater. We sat down a few minutes before the movie started, just in time to see the previews. The first one was for the movie Trainwreck, starring the amazing Amy Schumer. I watched excitedly for the first minute or so. I absolutely adore Amy Schumer and this was the first time I had seen anything for her movie. After a minute, though, I became annoyed. I was already sold, why was this preview pretty much laying out the entire film? I turned to my friend and whispered, "I feel like we are literally watching this film right now."
A few weeks ago I read an article about this very subject (an article I was going to attach, but cannot now seem to find) that stated that audiences WANT the long previews that practically give away the story. It talked about test groups that chose the previews that gave the most information. The article talked about a couple different films, but one summer film in particular: Jurassic World and its preview showing the raptors running alongside Chris Pratt, which is a scene that doesn't happen until very late in the film. This seriously annoys me. When you see a certain scene in a preview, you tend to wait for it to happen in the film. So when it doesn't happen until the third act, you begin to realize how much of the film its own preview spoiled for you.
I can tell almost immediately whether or not I want to see a film. Yes, I enjoy a brief preview that gives me a brief synopsis of a film. I'll even read a review or two before deciding to see it in the theater, but I am LESS likely to see a film if the preview has laid out the entire story for me. For example, the newest Meryl Streep film, Ricky and the Flash's preview shows Meryl singing at her daughter's wedding. The entire film is about a mom trying to reconnect with her daughter. Gee, if she is singing at her wedding, I'm going to say that she is probably successful. I know exactly what happens in the film because of the preview. Why do I need to see the movie now? I totally 100% know how it ends. I bet that scene from the preview is in the last 2-5 minutes of the film. The Intern's latest preview shows the entire office clapping for Robert DeNiro's character. What are the odds that that is one of the very last scenes of the film (pretty high, I'm betting).
I get it. With video on demand, Netflix, and Redbox all getting movies mere months after theaters, it doesn't seem pressing to see a movie in the theater. I'm a huge movie geek (you probably guessed that by my blog name), but I rarely see movies in the theater. Movie tickets are ridiculously expensive, snacks even more so, people are douchebags who can't be off their phones for *gasp* a full two hours. Studios believe (and have apparently even tested) that if they give away the story, people will be more likely to see their films, but I disagree. I go watch films to be entertained, and if I know what is going to happen, I'm not entertained--I'm waiting. I want movie to surprise me.
It's a thin line. People aren't going to go see a movie they know nothing about, but, in my humble opinion, they also aren't going to go see a movie if they know TOO much. People were going to go see Jurassic World this summer. Period. Because dinosaurs. And Chris Pratt. The preview with the raptors wasn't the swaying factor. If anything, audiences felt ripped off when they realized how late in the film that scene occurred. Its preview didn't hurt it because the film was always going to be huge. I think the films that are hurt the most by revealing too much are the littler films--which are also the films that need to give information because otherwise the general public won't know what its about. It's a Catch-22.
What all this rambling boils down to is this: I wish previews would give just the basic information: who's in the film and what is it about. I don't want scenes from the second or third acts of the film. And for God's sake: Stop showing scenes from the last 5 minutes!
What do you think? Do you want previews to give you a full picture of the film so you know exactly what you're going to see, or do you like for films to have some surprises? Sound off below!