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Enough with the Trailer Teasers

Enough with the Trailer Teasers

If you’ve been on the internet today for even a few minutes, you’ve probably heard about either A. the “Jurassic World” teaser  B. the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer or C. both. Or, rather, you’ve heard that both are coming, since the “Star Wars” trailer isn’t premiering until this weekend, and even then only in select theaters, while the “Jurassic World” teaser wasn’t actually a teaser for the film, but a teaser for the trailer. 

Both news items are indicative of where we’re currently at as far as trailer culture and hype machines go, but the “Jurassic World” bit is far more annoying. It’s not a teaser trailer, but a trailer teaser, something Myles McNutt outlined today on his blog Cultural Learnings.

What it is not, however, is a “Teaser Trailer.” That term has a specific meaning, although one I don’t know if we have a clear definition for, which is likely why these outlets are using the term indiscriminately. In thinking about it, I would argue that there are three basic characteristics that tend to indicate something functions as a teaser trailer: It is the first trailer released for a given film. It is shorter than a typical trailer, usually somewhere around one minute in length (versus two minutes for a standard trailer). While it may feature footage from the film itself, it makes limited effort to outline the entire “plot” of the film, focused more on character or theme.

He continues:

All told, my interest now shifts to what exactly we get from “Jurassic World” on Thursday. If this ends up being a 15-second teaser for a 60-second teaser trailer, will the Internet revolt? What particular variation on the teaser trailer genre makes sense for a franchise reboot of a series that grew progressively less successful but never entirely erased the goodwill of the beloved original? It’s the question Universal have had to ask themselves, and the question we’ll have answered if we give thanks to the trailer gods on Thursday.

Criticwire’s own Sam Adams has written before about his personal dislike for trailers. Myself, I enjoy seeing how trailers sell movies, and to a certain extent I see how extending the teases to actually teasing trailers is a smart marketing move. That said, I can’t help but feel that getting excited by what’s less a glimpse of a movie and more a glimpse of a glimpse is kind of silly. 

I’ll probably watch the “Jurassic World” trailer or teaser, not to mention the “Star Wars” trailer when it hits the internet (I’m not clearing my schedule to travel to one of the nine theaters showing it just to see a three-minute trailer). But there’s no way to break down the trailer teasers to see how they’re selling the film, as there’s no hint of plot, character or tone. There’s only the reassurance that, yes indeed, the thing that everyone’s probably already going to see exists. It pushes us to spend time obsessing over something that’s around the corner rather than what we might be able to enjoy now.

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