A Lie Agreed Upon: Good Trailers Don’t Mean Good Movies, by David Bax

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3 Responses

  1. Jackson H. says:

    To which I reply, “What method, then, should we use when deciding what movies to see?”

    To which you probably say, “Read reviews (especially those at BattleshipPretension.com).”

    To which I counter, “I figured you would say that, but I can point to dozens of critically beloved films that left me lukewarm at best and almost as many films with mixed-to-bad reviews that I quite enjoyed.”

    At which point you would probably stop responding because what would be the point.

    I get that trailers are just commercials. They do help me decide what movies to see, though, mostly because I am a very visual person and I need to at have a general idea of what a movie looks like to foster any kind of interest in it. The movie that first leaps to mind is Snow White and the Hunts-man. Based on the premise alone I might have skipped it, and the middling reviews it got wouldn’t have helped its case either, but there was something about the trailer I found quite intriguing and so I felt compelled to give it a shot. Glad the marketing worked, because as you know, it’s a pretty great movie. Of course, the opposite was almost true of this year’s Cinderella. The trailers had a certain bland quality that turned me off initially, and I didn’t decide to see it until you raved about it on BP. And it’s one of my favorite films of the year.

    Anyway, your thoughts on trailers are duly noted (and as a loyal listener they are nothing new for me), but based on my own experience trailers will have to remain a significant factor in my cinematic decision-making. Even if I’m occasionally “duped” by stuff like Prometheus, it’s all good. I can take the disappointment.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      Finding critics I like and also following the careers of directors has worked fine for me for years now.

      – David

      • Jackson H. says:

        I like you and Tyler as critics, but I disagree with you almost as much as I agree. And since I’ve never made a habit of reading reviews, at this point I’m a little too set in my ways to go about combing the internet for someone with the same weirdly specific sensibilities as myself. On the whole I don’t have much use for critics (though like you I sometimes like to read about a movie after I’ve seen it, but that serves an entirely different function). My devotion to BP is a bit of an anomaly.

        Following directors is definitely something I do, but that does me no good whenever some new person enters the scene, which seems like an almost weekly occurrence in this day and age. And even with a well-established filmmaker, you’re never quite sure what’s coming. I love Wes Anderson and was supremely excited for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but it turned out to be one of my least favorite films of his career (rewatch pending). Oh well.

        Trailers also put films on my radar that I may not have known about otherwise. Nobody I know is talking about The Witch right now, and I have no idea who the director is, but I saw the trailer on Hulu (I spend a lot of time browsing trailers on Hulu) and now I’m in. And hey, maybe I won’t like it. I still won’t think of it as a waste of time or money any more than I did Grand Budapest.

        I think, though, that perhaps this article isn’t directed at me to begin with. I’m a seasoned and savvy filmgoer. I have developed a keen sense of what I’m going to like or dislike. I can read the language of a trailer pretty well, and as such I’d say I make the right choice more often than not. Even in the minority cases such as Prometheus…well, I was probably going to see that movie anyway.

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