Now that we have your attention – When movie trailers are misleading.


It’s often said that the best bit of a film is shown in the trailers. Comedies are the worst offenders as they more often or not tend to show all the best jokes. Bearing in mind that you’re likely to see this trailer about 80 milllion times before the film comes out (Bridesmaids I’m looking at you) this can ruin the film. Then again  in the case of Bridesmaids maybe some funny bits in the trailer wouldn’t have gone amiss.

What’s even worse though is watching a film to see all the best bits were not only in the trailer but omitted from the film itself. For those of us that grew up with Predator, news that a long awaited follow up was in development had us spitting tobacco in excitement. The imaginatively titled Predators told us everything we needed to know. There would be more than one of the bastards this time around and the trailer didn’t disappoint as the climax teased us into ejaculation by showing loads of red dots with their sights on Adrian Brody. If you were like me, you looked forward to this scene wondering “how in the holy fuck was he going to get out of that?” Luckily for Adrian Brody though, that scene wasn’t in the film. Yes, the familiar three red dots appeared on his chest but that was it. One set of red dots. Not that Predators was a bad film, I quite enjoyed it myself, however it became the only talking point. Rodriguez himself, a man who once kept a line in a film due to his hatred for such trickery admitted deliberately intending to dupe the punters.

The man even managed to make a film from a fake trailer

Paranormal Activity 3 took alternate scenes so far they took the complete piss. Anyone who went to the annual screening of the new PA sequel may have been surprised by what they saw in the film…as around 50% of the trailer wasn’t in the film. The “Bloody Mary” trailer doesn’t bother me too much. I never expected this scene to be in the film anyway as it’s too revealing a shot of the entity. That doesn’t mean it made any sense though but pales in comparison to the second trailer. Let’s ignore the alternate scenes, such as the water on the ghost or the omission of the house fire in the film. I want to know what the hell happened to the spiritualist guy? The trailer clearly shows a character creating an entire plot for the film that wasn’t only not explored, but missing from the finished product.

On the other side of the coin is trailers that contain 100% footage of the film, but is edited in a way that suggests a completely different genre. A woman in America planned on filed a suit against the distributor of Drive as she was expecting a more action packed film in the style of Fast and the Furious.

It’s probably for the best then that she didn’t see Green Zone which pretended to be a Jason Bourne style action epic, as opposed to the well crafted political thriller it really was. The trailer invents a story of how Matt Damon uncovers a conspiracy only for the shady Government official to send in a crack commando unit to take care of him. “you have no idea who you’re dealing with” Brendan Gleason warns before Matt is seeing laying waste to Iraq. Turns out we had no idea who we were dealing with either as the only thing that is accurate from that description is that Matt Damon uncovers a conspiracy. Yes a commando unit is sent in to Iraq, but it’s not for Damon. Again, this is a very enjoyable film, but it’s not “Bourne goes epic” as the marketing would suggest.

Matt Damon or Michael Ballack?

So clearly a trailer should promote the film for all it’s worth, however when it starts deliberately misleading the audience is it a case of going too far? How would you feel buying the new Nickelback album only to find none of the songs on it were by Nickelback? Actually, you’d probably feel delighted.

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Thomas Simpson

Senior Editor at Moviescramble. Writer, filmmaker, friendly neighbourhood storyteller. Believes Jaws to be the greatest film ever made and will go down swinging with that belief.
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6 thoughts on “Now that we have your attention – When movie trailers are misleading.

  1. What I hate in cinema trailers is when there’s a foreign movie and they do their best to ensure there’s no dialogue in it whatsoever, nor is there any mention that it’s in a different language. It’s like the trailer maker is attempting to hide the fact there may be some reading involved unless you’re a native speaker.

  2. How about the trailer for Sweeney Todd that doesn’t have any singing in it?.
    It’s usually the case that the film makers have no say in the making of the trailer.
    These days I avoid trailers unless its something that is well done and does not give anything away. Prometheus comes to mind.

  3. I love trailers, good or bad. Something about the fact that they can be like mini films if done right. The Dark Knight teasers/trailers were great and the trailers and teasers for Prometheus have been amazing as well. I thought the Social Network did a good job.

    I do get the complaint about them being misleading. I guess I’m just in the habit of researching movie before I watch them, specially when I’m interested based on a trailer.

    I get more pissy with comedies. Too often the trailer is basically a highlight reel of the good jokes. You go to watch the film and you’ve heard all of the good jokes, or what you thought was good in the trailer doesn’t hold up in the film. I’m not a fan of films that just layout the entire storyline of the film. I always feel like I’ve seen the movie in those two instances.

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