/ Technology

Are film trailers spoiling movies?

In April we asked if high ticket prices were ruining your visits to the cinema. Yes, you said overwhelmingly. But something else has put a strain on my relationship with the cinema – and it’s not the popcorn.

Have you ever gone to your local cinema to watch a new film only to feel you’ve seen it before? I know I have. ‘Spoilerific’ film trailers are now often so detailed it seems hardly worth watching the movie itself.

Imagine if the trailer for Casablanca told you whether Ingrid Bergman went off with Humphrey Bogart or Paul Henreid at the end. Or if the trailer for Citizen Kane revealed just what the dying man meant when he muttered the word ‘Rosebud’.

And it seems that even some film directors agree. Colin Trevorrow, director of new film, Jurassic World, has said he think that trailers have shown far more of the film than he would have wanted.

‘Spoilerific’ film trailers

In the last couple of months, I’ve paid £17.50 a ticket to see two films I’ve been anticipating for some time. OK £17.50 sounds steep, but that was for iMAX 3D and I’d still have paid more than £10 for a ‘normal’ ticket.

But I left the cinema unfulfilled, because I felt like I’d seen them both six months before.

In both cases the trailer revealed the entire structure of the story, key plot twists and expensive action sequences. Throw in a few character deaths for good measure and you’ve got the basis of a significant chunk of what you’ve paid your money for.

I really did feel cheated by what the studio had wanted me to see in advance.

So is this just a modern trend? I checked out trailers for 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, and 1964’s Goldfinger to get a bigger picture.

Both revealed some well-known scenes (including Goldfinger’s iconic laser and dialogue), but the plot basics were instead explained by voiceover, rather than any especially huge visual giveaways.

Besides, the chance of actually seeing these trailers was significantly lessened due to the technology available at the time of release. Which got me thinking further.

Technology makes spoilers hard to avoid

‘If you don’t like it, don’t watch it’, I hear you cry. I wish it were that simple. In the age of the internet, exposure has increased tenfold.

Marketing campaigns target social media and television, while the days of a simple poster are gone. Why commission a still image when you can display scenes from the film on a screen in a station or other public place?

Not only that, but trailers are also forced upon you in the cinema itself before other films. Without a blindfold and a soundproof booth to hide in you have little choice.

It’s not that I have a problem with marketing and ads. But they’re spoiling the experience. I don’t want to see all the best bits wrapped up into two minutes, six months ahead of release.

Have you had a film spoiled by its trailer/marketing? Is Hollywood revealing too much in a desperate attempt to put bums on seats?


I recall feeling massively elated after watching the Prometheus trailer only to find that it gave away almost every major plot point when I watched the film proper. And let’s not even get into the quality of the flick. Ugh!

And another problem is that every film now has a trailer of the trailer of the trailer. With so many trailers, it’s no wonder we’ve seen half the film before we settle down to watch it at the cinema!

Maureen says:
17 July 2015

This ‘Trailer Trash Syndrome’ also applies to TV drama/films and other programming (e.g. BBC’S ‘Fake or Fortune’) where so much of the plot/storyline is given away, that it reduces any interest or pleasure in watching the whole. What do film/TV producers hope to achieve by this – it’s such a turn-off?

Paul Leogue says:
9 July 2015

There should be a special Oscar. Best trailer for worst film


If there was a lifetime achievement award for the ‘Best Trailer for the Worst Film’, it should surely go to Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Paul.

One day the awfulness of that film is going to hit me like PTSD.


I’m not sure, Graham. I think the trailer for Hana-Bi was great but the film, well let’s say no more…


There are no words.

I urge everyone to watch the masterpiece that is Hana-bi, but skip the rubbish trailer.


Is it on Netflix? What’s it about? If so, perhaps I’ll have a watch of it during the weekend 🙂

Paul Leogue says:
9 July 2015

Graham, I have only two words to say to you. Jack Reacher.


I enjoyed that film but I had not seen the trailer nor had I read any of the books.

Part of the very best bit of the film is in the trailer.