Although they're souped up with modern technology, today's blockbusters really aren't all that different than the ones from the '80s, '90s, and '00s. They share the same sensibilities: universal themes to cling to, classic character archetypes, and thrills that make the heart race. The real difference is the build up — modern tentpole movies arrive with fanfare, booming for months (or sometimes years) in advance. Judging from box office numbers, audiences are still eager to throw down $15 for the summer's biggest movies, but thanks to today's trailer culture, they're just as excited to see the a two and a half minute first look of the movie from the comfort of their own homes.
This year, blockbuster trailers solidified themselves as their own event, movie studios releasing trailers for the trailers to build up anticipation for their online debut. 2012 didn't mark the first occurrence of the preview preview, but a once-in-a-blue-moon strategy went full on trend when the trailer for every major release was preempted by a compressed version. If a trailer had five money shots, one of them would make the trailer's teaser.
Looking back at a year of the odd tradition, here are the "best" of 2012's trailers of trailers.
Length: 13 Seconds
Having already released a two minute trailer for the film in October 2011, The Avengers one-upped itself with a Super Bowl spot that highlighted the superhero movie's final battle. To ensure maximum frenzy over the 30 second commercial, Disney released a shorter version online reminding people to stick around between touchdowns for a glimpse of Hulk smashing. Because someone might forget to watch the commercials during the Super Bowl.
Length: 31 Seconds
Prometheus ended up a mixed bag critically, but in the trailer department, the movie got everything right. In the trailer trailer department, it got everything as right as you can get while still being build up to the actual trailer. Ridley Scott appeared in three separate clips to announce his return to science fiction and return to using screeching noises to make audiences feel horrible inside. The spots did have worth: before even seeing footage from the film, trailer trailer viewers caught behind-the-scenes of Scott, Michael Fassbender and company on set filming. Just in case there was any movie magic to be found in the completed versions of the scenes.
Length: 33 Seconds
A modernized version of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 film of the same name, Total Recall's trailer trailer forcefully suggests the movie be taken seriously, regardless of your opinion on remakes. Bold! The trailer intercuts explosions with giant words, a process that allows the bite sized piece of information to be stretched over half a minute. Fitting, based on the end product, which came and went this past August.
Length: 15 Seconds
When it comes to Twilight fandom, every bit of footage is the Second Coming, so its no surprise Breaking Dawn — Part 2 embrace the phenomenon and raise the heart rates of Twihards across the globe with a short trailer tease. First premiering on the 2012 VMAs, the spot manages to stuff quite a bit of footage into its short run time. Whether a close up of Bella and Edward holding hands is a satisfying "Oh sh*t!" moment depends on how many years one invested into the series.
Length: 51 Seconds
Director Rian Johnson stressed to his Twitter followers to go into Looper blind, so you can imagine what he thought about trailer trailers. That said, Looper was a brainy action flick, and it didn't hurt for Johnson and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt to add some context to the imagery that would be on display in the trailer. Perhaps the most sophisticated promotional material of the year.
Length: 18 Seconds
In case people had recovered from Avengers fever, Marvel bombarded comic book movie fanboys' orbitofrontal cortexes with a look at their next superhero outing, Iron Man 3. The movie was fighting an impossible battle — how do you contend with a movie that sports Iron Man plus a host of other heroes — but the trailer's trailer got people ZOMGing thanks to fast cut editing and plenty of teases. What does the front of Ben Kingsley's bad guy character look like? Viewers had to wait a few days after this first look:
Come back tomorrow for our rundown of the Best Trailers of 2012! Sorry for the tease.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Marvel]
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