The valley between two event movies is often a great week for trailers. There’s one of everything here: comedy, arthouse, action, period romance, and even Meryl Streep.
First, let me offer a shameless plug: if you’re looking for a film to watch in the mostly dead period between Avengers: Age of Ultron (review here) and Mad Max: Fury Road, check out my recommendations for a few dangerous movies on rental and streaming services. Now, let’s dive in:
I don’t care what your orientation is or isn’t, this is how you do a trailer. It’s cheeky, it’s brash, and it communicates the premise without giving anything away. The first Magic Mike was a $7 million film that made $167 million worldwide. Say what you want about movies for women not making money – approximately $122 million of those dollars came from women viewers.
This sequel is a great example of locating a release date in a crowded frame. Arriving on July 1, it’s a week after Ted 2, whose predecessor skewed heavily male. Its direct competition is Terminator: Genisys, which is considered such a major release, its only real competition a week later comes in the form of family animation The Minions. This is genius counterprogramming, appealing to an audience Hollywood won’t be catering to for a month-long stretch between Disney Pixar’s Inside Out on June 19 and the arrival of Marvel’s Ant-Man and Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck on July 17. Additionally, Schwarzenegger has been decidedly human at the box office in recent years. If the new Terminator falters in any way, Magic Mike XXL will absorb some of its potential viewers. This is all before taking into account the long July 4 weekend. Magic Mike XXL stands no chance of beating Terminator, but it doesn’t have to in order to be successful. It’s positioned itself to outperform expectations just like its predecessor did.
Some films, there’s no way to advertise wrong. Salma Hayek’s passion project combines 10 directors in total to adapt Gibran’s contemplations on the human condition, and showing moments from each of these directors and each of their styles gives us an idea that the film might be as challenging as it is beautiful. Sometimes, especially for a film that may not get a very wide release, letting audiences know they’re going to be challenged means they’ll seek that challenge out. Going for mass appeal and clearly defining a movie isn’t always the right call – sometimes, getting the right audience to begin talking about the movie does more for you in the end.
Simon Pegg’s got a host of promising comedies coming up, including Kill Me Three Times and Man Up. Absolutely Anything looks the most promising, as if Terry Pratchett himself had a hand in writing it (instead, Monty Python member Terry Jones did). The trailer sticks to the jokes, including a zombie one that smartly reminds us of Sean of the Dead, and a poop one that may play better in Britain than it does here. Either way, it doesn’t reveal much beyond its premise. It doesn’t even harp on Robin Williams’ last voice acting role, which is wise. Audience members shouldn’t view any comedy as a dirge and the quick flash of his name is enough to surprise viewers without focusing on Williams’ involvement at length.
Remember what I keep saying about seeing more trailers summarize a single action scene the way the Furious 7 airdrop trailer did? San Andreas just joined the movement, so let’s break the approach down: the first minute of your trailer should encapsulate one action scene. Begin with a few lines of dialogue to establish the relationships of who we’re watching. Use the initial shots of the action scene to define what it’s about. Jump ahead to shots in the middle of the sequence that feature your best CGI (and let’s face it, the CGI here looks stunning). Cut to the end of the action sequence, spoiling the end but giving viewers of the trailer a complete emotional journey.
This doesn’t tease viewers with potential the way most trailers do; it’s instead translating the experience of what sitting in the theater and watching will feel like. The last minute of the trailer can communicate the premise and tease, but it hardly matters – that first minute has already tricked us into picturing ourselves sitting in the theater and watching the movie. As any psychologist will tell you, visualizing yourself doing something makes it that much easier to actually do it. It’s now that much easier to talk ourselves into going to San Andreas. I’ll say it again – action movies will be abusing this technique in trailers for a long time to come.
This almost looks like the Doom movie I’ve always wanted. I wrote script outlines for that as a kid and, let me tell you, they were much better than what we ended up with. OK – so one thing, if there’s a cuss in your trailer, don’t bleep it out. YouTube doesn’t really care. If you’ve got to, just blank the swear; don’t bleep it. People wear headphones for godssakes. All that said, this is a few monsters short of a good Doom trailer, and that’s enough to get my attention. And yes, there is yet one more Hemsworth.
Women didn’t get the right to vote in Britain until 1928. It’s not even a century old yet. An interesting note in the history of the suffrage movement there is that most campaigning was voluntarily ceased during World War I. The love story here looks stuffy, but the trailer seems to be featuring this as only one element of a fuller story. Furthermore, ignore Hayley Atwell’s name there – she’s barely in the trailer. Kit Harrington’s a solid actor, too, but the name to watch is the lead actress: Alicia Vikander. After what she did in Ex Machina (review here), you know that she’s only getting started. It’s a good announcement trailer, but whatever follows has got to be a little braver and a little less classically oriented.
This one’s problematic. Meryl Streep, Juno scribe Diablo Cody, and Jonathan Demme directing anything with a wedding in it is a recipe for success. Meryl Streep as an aging rock star isn’t something we’ve seen from her before; all the trailer needs to do is deliver her over and over again. That’s exactly what it does…on the way to depicting the entire movie seemingly front-to-back. If you watch this, I’d highly recommend only viewing the first 60 seconds. That’s a problem. Meryl Streep in a role that’s fresh is appointment viewing. Spoiling the entire movie cancels that appointment. It’s a trailer that does far too much. Will the movie be good? Undoubtedly. Am I more interested in seeing it now that I’ve been shown the entire plot? Not at all.
This week’s trailers represent a range of genres. Which is the one you’d like to see more films made for?