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The trailer plays a major role in the marketing and ultimate success of a feature motion picture. This on-screen advertisement is so engrained in popular culture that most of the time it is taken for granted by movie goers. But industry marketing veterans know the trailer is the first and last chance to create a lasting impression on an audience.
Once the audience has settled into their seats, it is introduced to a string of trailers that showcase the latest films, some that entice the audience, some that leave them wondering what it's all about, some that might leave them cold. Some audience members may find a trailer so mysterious, fun or interesting that it will prompt them to share it over social networks or mobile devices, or even look for them in television commercial breaks. Thus, the life of the trailer begins its trans-media journey.
Most trailers range in length between 30 seconds and two minutes. It's within that short time span that the viewer will pick up on hundreds of cues about the movie. In the blink of an eye he will determine the genre, the gist of the story, the aesthetic and level of production. By the end of the trailer the viewer might well determine the fate of the movie. Is it a must-see or to-be-avoided? A movie may have an A-list cast, an interesting plot or incredible visual effects, but without a strong first impression, the movie's fate might be straight to DVD.