A film can have a stellar ensemble cast, a high pedigree director, the most fascinating subject matter and heaps of critical praise. But sadly, none of this matters without an engaging trailer to bring audiences in. A great trailer can elevate a film’s chances of stepping out from the pack, while a lousy trailer can turn viewers off from attending a show that they may have anticipated.
Movie trailers are still the most important marketing tools in cinema today. So, how can one objectively rank the trailers for hundreds of releases in a year and narrow it down to just ten of the best? Well, one has to use certain criteria to fairly rank how effective the two-minute film preview is. For this feature, I used five criteria to decide which trailers ranked higher than the rest:
- Originality. Is the trailer unique from others of its genre? When you sit down and watch between 200 and 300 ads, they start to blend together after a while. This makes it easier to pick the ones that really stand out.
- Editing. How is the pacing and cutting in the trailer? Does it build up to a climax? Are the images discernible? Are the stories and characters clear from the quickly edited two-minute bits of montage?
- Music and Sound. A stirring musical score (think of the trailer for War Horse), a haunting sound effect (the trailer for Little Children) or a rousing pop song (Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” in the Where the Wild Things Are trailer) can make the footage linger much longer in the viewer’s mind.
- Lack of spoilers. Don’t you hate watching 150 seconds of a trailer and knowing that there is no point to slam down $12 bucks to see it since the trailer gave the whole story away? Ads that hint at the film’s spirit, themes and story without giving away too much pertinent detail can be very satisfying.
- Must-see factor. Does the trailer promo make me want to rush out for opening day? Does this movie seem like an event that is not to be missed?
Please note that the trailers included in this list are press materials that came out this past year, but some of the choices are for films coming out in 2014. Subsequently, trailers that arrived online in 2012 for 2013 releases were not included.
Enjoy, and make sure to strike back with your thoughts in the comments section below!