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“Cloverfield” – The Art of the Trailer

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Trailers, those previews we see at the theater before we see the picture, first earned their name from their original placement during the show—the end of the movie.  What was once a simple effort to get people in to see a movie has become a veritable art form.  A well-cut trailer can turn a mediocre movie into an event, and can often pull influence on opening weekend returns.  Some examples…
 
–Over six months before the release of Independence Day, audiences glimpsed a 90 second montage of looming shadows moving across an assortment architectural landmarks before watching the White House get blown to smithereens.  The film, a fundamentally B-grade movie with above average special effects, became the highest grossing film of 1996. 
 
–Discerning viewers can glean the general plot, including its resolution, from the trailer for Double Jeopardy.  It made a predictable little thriller look clever and sexy, and it enjoyed at least one week at number one before audiences discovered that it wasn’t. 
 
–The makers of The Blair Witch Project took the marketing aspect to a new level utilizing the internet.  An unpretentious website spelled out the premise and billed it as reality—three student filmmakers go missing in the woods while filming a documentary, and years later, their footage is found, culled, and released to the public. We all remember the trailer; those iconic shots of a tearful and distorted Heather Donahue looking into the camera, telling us it was all her fault.  The legend of the Blair Witch became a genuine phenomenon, if only for a while.
 
Playing on the front of Transformers right now is another potential example of innovative marketing.  The trailer—quick shots of a man’s going away party captured on home video—reveals only enough to tell you that, whatever this story is about, it’s big.  One stunning moment involves the head of the Statute of Liberty falling into the middle of Manhattan whilst the people run for their lives.  You can catch the trailer here.  You’ll notice that it doesn’t even include a title, only a release date: 1.18.08. 

According to Ain’t It Cool News, the movie is codenamed “Cloverfield.”  Two websites, supposedly linked to the movie, are already starting to lay a foundation for the premise which, for now, remains just as veiled. 

Despite the subterfuge involved in the promotion of this picture, I have to admit that the ploy has worked on me.  I’ll be at the movies January 18. 

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Written by taj

July 9, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Movies

One Response

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  1. […] I ignored the reviews.  I ignored my friends’ advice.  I even ignored my own good sense.  I was duped, see — caught up in the enthusiasm that anyone who can set up film so spectacularly has to […]


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