September 25, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 16  

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Hey theatres: trailers are trash

World Wide Wong
Brian Wong

A&E Editor

This is a plea to the people who are responsible for assembling movie trailers: be original. Those "Coming Attractions" that are supposed to pull me into the theatre are rarely ever attractive.

Aside from the tendency to give away the story line, my main objection is to the trite tag lines that seem to be used in every picture preview; that narrator with the bellowing voice of God seems to always begin his sentences with either:

(a) "In a world where..."
(b) "Are you ready for..."
(c) "How far will you go..."

It doesn't matter whether it's an apocalyptic action flick, an interracial romance-drama or a coming-of-age tale starring Hilary Duff. Overused tag lines are making movie previews one big homogenous pile of puke.

In the cut-and-paste, digital world, where everything is swallowed up and spit back out in "shiny new packaging, now with outdoor scent," the demand for something really refreshing might have just waned. Or maybe we're just lazy.

Sure, there are archetypes, patterns and conventions none of these are bad things. In fact, employing those tactics can make any piece of work easier to follow. I know there have been numerous occasions in which I have sat in a theatre in complete confusion at what I was seeing until I heard "How far will you go..." and in that instant, breathed a sigh of relief as I recognized what it was: "Ah yes, this is a movie trailer!"

But the trick is to make conventions less apparent and to balance that accessibility with something less overdone. This is a rule that should also be applied to other kinds of work like music videos.

Have you seen that goddamn boring Sting video in which Sting stands at a busy intersection, singing at normal speed, while everyone else just whizzes by in a blur? Yes, it's a new video but not really new and a bit of an ego trip on the part of Sting, who resorts to tired music video techniques in an attempt to prove his timelessness.

While Sting should go look to make something that truly stings, other writers, directors, composers and arrangers should likewise seek to put together pieces that ditch the stale clich˙s for work that packs a bit more bite. And movie trailer writers please stop asking me "How far will you go..." How far will I go? Not so far as to see this movie if your trailer people aren't even going to go far enough to make the preview the least bit interesting.



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