Category Archives: Trailers

Discovering How The ECA Uses Trailers To Promote Event Cinema

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Rather than simply being a service that continuously clogs your inbox with email updates, it turns out LinkedIn, the popular social network, can be rather useful for discovering certain bits of industry information. Take, for example, a recent discussion on the site begun by Melissa Cogavin (née Keeping), the Managing Director of the Event Cinema Association (ECA).

By posting a message in LinkedIn’s Alternative Content & Entertainment group she let its 631 members know that the ECA had produced a new trailer which would be appearing in cinemas and online to promote event cinema.

Cogavin was using LinkedIn precisely as the company had hoped users would. Rather than being a network to visit when one needs to update their resume, look for a job or research someone’s professional credentials, LinkedIn created groups to help bring users back on a more regular basis. There are numerous LinkedIn Groups focused on the motion picture and entertainment industries wherein professionals from all over the world engage in ongoing discussions, debates and the exchange of information.

But enough about LinkedIn (for now). The only reason to bring up the social network at all is to point out how the ECA’s Cogavin used it to spread the word about her organization’s trailer, not only to those in the United Kingdom (where the ECA is based) and Europe, but throughout the world. While I am certainly familiar with the ECA, I had no idea they produced promotional trailers, the most recent of which can be seen above.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit not knowing about the trailer since when reached for comment about the latest one, Cogavin said the ECA has created 9 trailers to date; 4 per year since the trade group’s launch in September of 2012. “We produce one per season covering a 3 month period,” she explained.

All of the trailers produced by the ECA can be found on their YouTube page.

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A Little Teaser For “Ant-Man” Is A Big Win For Marvel

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Marvel Entertainment did not wait long before placing their mark on 2015. The Disney owned company is widely expected to have a banner year thanks to the release of both “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man”. Marvel rang in the new year by releasing an 18-second teaser trailer for the latter, once again proving their mastery of this specialized marketing medium.

Rather than simply post an 18-second spot online, which likely would have been enough to send fanboys the world over straight to their blogs, Marvel released a version of the teaser that demanded viewers give it a closer look… literally. Under the headline “1st Ant-Sized Look at Ant-Man” a video was posted to Marvel’s YouTube Channel on January 2nd. The video, shown above, features images and clips from the film sized perfectly for viewing by ants.

Of course, if you happen to be human, like most everyone with enough money to pay for a movie ticket, then this means the 18-seconds of footage is microscopic. Even the best squinters in the world would have a hard time making any of it out. Some dedicated fans discovered if the resolution of the video was increased to 1080p and blown up to full screen then the faintest of fuzzy images from “Ant-Man” could be made out. Maybe that’s why the video has racked up more than 6.3 million views on YouTube.

The following day, after dozens if not hundreds of media outlets had written about the tiny “Ant-Man” teaser, Marvel posted what they dubbed the “1st Human-Sized Look at Ant-Man” to YouTube. Shown below, it is the same exact video as the “ant-sized” version. This time however it was large enough to see by those of us who walk around on only two legs and who can carry a wallet, but nothing that is 5,000 times our own body weight.

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Regal Cinemas Causes A Disturbance In The Force

Regal's Star Wars Force Awakens Teaser Release

A few days ago you may have felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of PR managers suddenly cried out in terror, and a theatre chain was suddenly silenced.

Translation: Regal Cinemas learned the hard (and often harmless) lesson so many online retailers have already experienced on countless occasions.

While updating their customer-facing website over the weekend, Regal broke the news that a teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (a.k.a “Star Wars: Episode VII”) would be shown in a small number of theaters. The circuit’s website even went so far as to list the nine cinemas showing the teaser before all films from November 28th through November 30th. In a commendable attempt to be thorough, Regal also posted links to the announcement on Facebook and Twitter.

The only problem in all this is that the official announcement of the teaser trailer for “The Force Awakens” was meant to come from its director J.J. Abrams who had not yet made the news public. Oops.

The “incident”, if you can actually call it that, occurred early Monday morning setting off a nerd alert in certain sectors of the Internet galaxy. Though Regal quickly took down the webpage and deleted their posts on Facebook and Twitter, they were soon made aware (if they weren’t already) that once something is published online, it is impossible to erase. Screenshots of their webpage and even a YouTube video began making the rounds on social media and the blogosphere.

It wasn’t long before official word came from Abrams, via his production company’s Twitter account, that an 88 second teaser for the highly anticipated release would hit select theatres this Friday. Shortly afterwards Regal republished their webpage announcing details on where and when to see the “Star Wars” teaser.

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Marvel Plays It Smart After “Avengers” Trailer Leak

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When Marvel Entertainment learned the teaser trailer for their highly anticipated super hero movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron” had leaked online they had a number of options in how to respond and ultimately did so in an exemplary manner. With the resources of Disney, their deep-pocketed owner, Marvel could have sent take down notices to every single website posting the leaked trailer. They could have even gone so far as to file suit against specific sites hosting or disseminating the trailer. Instead, Marvel handled the incident efficiently and in a way that painted them in a positive light.

The trailer in question is the first for the studio’s 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers” and was leaked via Google Drive. Within hours Disney sent Google a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requesting the file be removed. Initially there was some concern that an entire cut of the movie had been pirated however that seems unlikely since it is still being completed.

When the leak was first noticed on October 22nd, rather than run around with a SWAT team of lawyers trying to squelch the trailer’s distribution, Marvel decided to promote the incident with a single two word tweet that read, “Dammit, Hydra”. The post has been retweeted and favorited over 60,000 times and set the tone for the rest of Marvel’s actions related to the leak. By referencing Hydra, a global terrorist network in the Marvel universe, the company was showing a sense of humor in a relevant fashion. They seized control of the situation from that moment forward.

With the footage in the wild Marvel understood there was no way to stuff the genie back into the bottle, if you will, and one-upped the leakers by quickly releasing an HD version of the trailer along with a poster for the movie. This delighted hardcore fans who quickly kept the chatter about the trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” going strong on social media.

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“Gravity” Takes Off At 15th Annual Golden Trailer Awards

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In an industry that loves to award itself with never-ending accolades it should come as no surprise that there is a trophy for those who produce the trailers used to market new releases. Even more so because we’ve previously written about the Golden Trailer Awards, an annual competition that recognizes the professionals who craft movie trailers, television commercials and posters for new releases.

This year’s Golden Trailer Awards were held this past Friday at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. The preview for Warner Bros.’ “Gravity”, produced by mOcean, won the top prize (Best In Show), as well as Best Thriller, beating out entries for other big titles such as “The Lego Movie“, ” The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Star Trek Into Darkness” and many more. Sisters Evelyn Brady-Watters and Monica Brady founded the Golden Trailer Awards back in 1999 and report that a record number entries were submitted this year.

It’s a good thing then that there are plenty of chances for marketing professionals to take home a trophy. The Golden Trailer Awards has more categories (70+) than the Oscars (24); everything from Best In Show for the best trailer of the year to Best Film Festival Poster. There are even categories for Best Standee for a Feature Film, Best Pre-show Theatrical Advertising for a Brand and what must be a relatively new addition, Best Vine. Nor are the Golden Trailer Awards limited solely to motion pictures, as they include several trophies for marketing associated with video games.

My own personal favorite categories are Golden Fleece, which honors the best trailer produced for a bad movie, and the Don LaFontaine Award, which goes to the trailer with the best voiceover. (Don LaFontaine recorded voiceover narration for more than 5,000 trailers before his death in 2008 and is credited with coming up with the catchphrase “In a world…”). On Friday those awards went to, respectively, Dreamworks “The Fifth Estate”, produced by In Sync Advertising and 20th Century Fox’s “The Heat”, produced by Big Picture.

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Enlight Pictures Casts A Wide Net To Promote “My Old Classmate”

My Old Classmate Poster

If you were to look at the worldwide box office for this past weekend – and given how “international” receipts account for a majority of a film’s gross, why would you look at anything else – in the number five spot you’d find a release titled “My Old Classmate” which earned USD $17 million in a single territory. At this point in the history of the movie business you probably don’t need many guesses to figure out that the sole territory was China, for despite its English title, “My Old Classmate” is a Chinese film.

The movie, directed by Frant Gwo and staring Zhou Dongyu and Lin Gengxin, is described as a “youth romance” between two school friends that takes place over 20 years. It’s hard to know how accurate that plot line is since the two official trailers for “My Old Classmate” don’t exactly present a detailed summary. In fact, Enlight Pictures, the Beijing based company distributing the film in China, released two trailers for the title which are entirely different in their tone and approach.

After watching the two-minute teaser trailer, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking “My Old Classmate” was an action-suspense film that included a dramatic love story. It appears to be courting fans of filmmaker Zhang Yimou or the Jason Bourne franchise:

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A shorter trailer for the movie, appropriately titled “Hormone Trailer”, presents “My Old Classmate” as a raunchy teen comedy that would appeal to those who appreciate “Superbad” or “American Pie”:

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Hal Douglas and the Evolving Art Form of Movie Trailer Voice-Overs

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It’s been a week since we learned about the passing of voice-over legend Hal Douglas at the age of 89. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, then you probably don’t work in the marketing department of a film or television company.

Over the course of four decades Douglas provided the voice-over narration for hundreds, if not thousands, of movie trailers and promotional television spots. His list of credits is far to vast to list in total, but included movies like “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs”, “Con Air”, “Die Hard”, “Forrest Gump”, “Four Feathers”, “Lethal Weapon”, “Meet the Parents”, “Men In Black”, and “Philadelphia” to name but a few.

Since Douglas’ death was announced I’ve heard it suggested repeatedly both in the media and in various conversations with industry professionals, that Douglas helped establish and was a part of a “golden age” of voice-over. Joining him in this unofficial category are the likes of Don LaFontaine, credited with creating the trailer catch phrase “in a world”, and Don Morrow, whose credits include “Fistful of Dollars”, “Saving Private Ryan” and “Titanic”. Up until five years ago, and dating back to the mid-1970s, Hollywood studios and television networks relied upon this troika of talent so much that their deep bass busting style has become standard to the point of almost being cliché.

Douglas made light of his own omnipresent narration by appearing in a trailer for Jerry Seinfeld’s 2002 documentary “Comedian” as a voice-over artist who only speaks in movie trailer colloquialisms.

With the passing of LaFontaine in 2008 and now Douglas, the argument being made is that an era of voice-over artistry has ended with them, and henceforth, all we’ll get is a string of artists trying to imitate these masters. While there is no disputing the talent of Douglas, LaFontaine, Morrow and their thunder throated contemporaries, when it comes to voice-over narration I must disagree with the notion that the timeframe in which they worked was anymore golden than those that came before, after or have yet to occur.

Like just about everything in life, and especially the arts, voice-over narration evolves from one set of overlapping characteristics to the next. Just as modernism spawned postmodernism or as the work’s of Picasso, the renown painter, transitioned from a monochromatic blue-green between 1901 and 1904 into cubist works by 1909, the time period in which Douglas was so prolific is defined by a style of voice-over that he helped establish.

Put another way, it’s not that Douglas was simply good at delivering “Voice of God” (VoG) narration, he actually created the style (along with others such as LaFontaine). With his passing, the style will shift slightly to match the taste of current audiences and the characteristics of whoever the next big voice-over talent is. Given the natural progression of marketing, design and popular culture, this new style will, in all likelihood, be close, though not identical, to that of Douglas and his peers.

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Klip Collective’s Projection Mapping Impresses Sundance Film Festival Audiences

Before every film screened at the Sundance Film Festival, presently taking place in Park City, Utah, a pre-roll trailer is shown. This has been going for as long as anyone can remember. The trailers, often referred to as “festival bumpers”, are crafted by noteworthy filmmakers, artists or designers and are different each year.

This year the festival turned to Klip Collective, a Philadelphia based production house that has gained a reputation for using technology and various forms of media to create immersive and unique visual experiences. In 2013, Klip Collective created a piece that appeared in the New Frontier section of the festival titled “What’s He Building In There“. Based on a Tom Waits song of the same name, the work was a story about a man inside the building that was projection-mapped onto the front of a festival venue.

The project impressed Sundance officials so much that they were commissioned Klip to create a trailer for the 2014 festival and invited them to bring another project as part of the New Frontier section.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival trailer (which can be seen above) was meant to mark the 30th anniversary of the event. Like last year’s project, it is a 3D-pixel-mapped work that is projected onto Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, one of the festival’s primary cinemas. The piece prominently features clips from some of the films that have shown at the festival over the years, including “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Clerks”, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Reservoir Dogs”.

The project would not have been possible without the use of modern technology, specifically digital cinema. Two Barco projectors were set up across the street from the Egyptian, which is located on Main Street in Park City, and aligned for pixel precision. The following is a behind the scenes video of how the piece was projected onto the cinema when Klip shot the trailer on July 17, 2013:

One thing about these festival trailers is that for those of us who see upwards of 30 or 40 movies during Sundance, they can become mildly annoying. After seeing the same trailer so many times during the 10 day span of the event, its music and images begin to permanently inhabit our heads even when not watching films. One idea to alleviate such trailer fatigue this year might be to run a contest during the festival; anyone who can name all of the dozens of movies represented or referenced in the bumper wins or is entered into some sort of raffle. Just a thought.

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Honest Trailers Use Satire To Lampoon Blockbuster Movie Trailers

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Earlier this year the National Association of Theatre Owners entered discussions with studios over the trailers being used to promote upcoming releases. Cinema operators were requesting that the trailers be shorter and not give away so much of the plot. On the other hand, some movie news websites have taken matters into their own hands in an effort to have trailers accurately represent the films they are meant to advertise.

Not sure how we missed this, but for more than year now the good folks at Screen Junkies have been producing a series of trailers spoofing past and present releases. Honest Trailers, as they have been dubbed, rely heavily on the old quote about many a truth being told in jest. The purpose of each trailer, some of which run more than five minutes, is to provide viewers with what a movie is actually all about through the use of ironic, biting satire. For instance, in their latest trailer for “World War Z” they introduce the film as follows:

In a world where zombies have already infected every facet of pop culture comes… another zombie movie. But this time it has Brad Pitt. Get ready for the big screen adaptation of the best-selling novel that’s got everything you loved about the title… and nothing else.

The voice over in the trailer describes Brad Pitt’s character in the movie as:

…your average everyday super attractive, scarf-wearing, Spanish-speaking, airplane-piloting, sharp-shooting, skull-bashing, armor-crafting, arm-chopping, prisoner-interrogating, surgery-doing, slow-motion-vision-having, antidote-making, eagle-eyed stay-at-home dad.

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New York Times and NPR Dissect Movie Trailers

New York Times Lincoln Trailer Timeline

As part of their coverage of this year’s Academy Awards, the New York Times has published an interesting (and technologically slick) interactive graphic that details how scenes from a film are used in their accompanying trailers.

The Times examines five of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture including “Amour”, “Argo”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook”. They had trailer specialist Bill Woolery and Stephen Garrett, the founder of a trailer production house named Jump Cut, explain significant characteristics and aspects of each trailer. (Full disclosure: Stephen Garrett is an old friend of mine whose career as a trailer editor I’ve watched prosper over the past 14 years.)

Woolery and Garrett highlight how some trailers follow the chronological order of the film they are promoting (“Silver Linings Playbook”), while others might include footage not found in the version which gets released to theatres (“Argo”).

The feature provides a timeline for each trailer that shows where from the film a particular shot was taken; beginning middle or end. This makes it easy to see how the trailer for “Lincoln” jumps all over the place. Visitors can skim through the timeline with their cursor as a tiny video version of the trailer displays which shot is being viewed.

It’s a fascinating way to present how the multiple visual elements of a trailer are pulled from their source material and pieced together with specific promotional agendas in mind.

Yesterday NPR followed up the Times feature with an interview of Garrett during a 16-minute segment on Talk of the Nation titled Movie Trailer Math: Getting ‘Butts In The Seats’ In Minutes.