There’s been a disturbing trend abounding in the cinema world in recent years, trailers are continually showing vital plot points and revealing twists of the films they are promoting. All the while ticket prices at the movies are going up and audience attendance is going down.
For some there is nothing more frustrating than watching a trailer that gives away all the major points of interest in a film. You go to the movies after watching the preview and find that nothing surprises or delights you because the trailer has already revealed the most exciting aspects of the production. A case in point is Southpaw, which shows a major character, played by Rachel McAdams being killed off. From there the trailer unravels exactly how the movie will play out. Without even seeing the film, we can confidently guess every turn of events. Subsequent audience reactions have confirmed this.
In instances like this, one muses if the cinematic experience is really that if all you found out was the same as what was in a 2-minute clip on YouTube. See more on the subject here.
If Southpaw is an example of a bad trailer, we might have to go back to 2013 to find a good one in The Place Beyond The Pines. This trailer manages to give the viewer a good sense of the plot, mood, and tone of the film while giving away none of the major spoilers, of which there are several significant ones. Upon watching the film, one is engrossed because while they get what they were hoping to see, they also experience many turns they did not expect.
The recent DC trailers display the same nous but that’s largely due to the fact they know they don’t have to work hard to get fans to their films. In reality, film and trailer companies believe the more they show in the trailers, the more interested the audience will be and the more likely they will go to see the film. To me that is ridiculous and even directors have concerns about the trailers of their own films. Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua spoke to Entertainment Weekly:
“I was concerned about [the revelation of Rachel McAdams characters’ death], for sure, I still am. And I spoke my mind about it.”
Gone are the days of the synopsis voice-over accompanied by snapshots of action and inciting events, seen here in 1993’s Jurassic Park.
Nowadays, trailers have extended in length and seem to show as much as possible, because film studios clearly believe it is the best way to market their products. The fans that don’t like spoilery trailers will probably go see the movie anyway and the rest of the customers are wooed by extensive special effects. I would like to think movie-goers are more intelligent people who know what they like and will be able to decide if they want to see a film without seeing half of it in a preview. However, it seems that the studios don’t care much for dedicated cinema enthusiasts for which going to the theatre is an experience akin to visiting an art gallery (you don’t see them showing paintings to people before they go in). Rather they know they can get people on seats by showing crazy stunts or unveiling massive plot twists.
Trailer Park, the company representing Southpaw, believe audiences want and need more before the commit to attending the cinemas. President Matt Brubaker said:
“People have felt burned in the past. If someone’s going to pay $20 to go on opening weekend to see this movie, they want to know that they are making a pretty good investment.”
This is an understandable point and you have to respect the studios for being able to have their cake and eat it too but personally, it’s disappointing.
Jump in prices sees customers stay away
At the same time as trailers are not covering up, it seems that cinema attendances are decreasing. Whether the two are related is worth discussion but one major factor in this statistic is the rise in price of cinema tickets. According to if.com.au average ticket prices in Australia have risen by more than 22 per cent since 2009. The main factors here are considered to be the proliferation of 3D movies and gold class cinemas. The diversity requires more cinemas to be open, more staff and more production costs. At the same time attendances are believed to have dropped by 14 per cent in the last 10 years. The solution? Raise prices to compensate for the lesser audiences in order to maintain gross income. That sounds less like a solution and more the recipe for a long-term problem. Deakin University academics Bronwyn Coate and Deb Verhoeven conducted a study on the matter and said it’s concerning.
“This form of variable pricing appears to be premised on the belief that although less tickets overall may be sold, the higher revenue per ticket will more than compensate cinema operators for lost ticket sales. This view is problematic in that it places far more importance on short-term company profits and does not address how the exhibition sector might retain, let alone cultivate, increased audiences for cinema.”
If audience numbers continue to drop, particularly in the younger generations, the viability of movie theatres will come into question. It would be a crying shame to see the iconic cinema disappear but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. People are happy at home purchasing movies on demand for their HD televisions or using torrenting websites (illegally) for free. And when a trailer shows more than you need or want to know, what reason is there to drive to your local theatre? The room temperature popcorn?
What about you? Do you still enjoy going to the movies? Do trailers or prices affect your decision?