Top 5 Attributes of a Successful Movie Trailer

With the dawning of YouTube and social media, movie trailers have a whole new importance in the movie making industry, and are looking better and better rather than as though they were made by a high schooler in After Effects . Before these two minute mini movies were just novelties to be seen before your featured film. Now, we have countdowns to the release of trailers and special viewings once they’re available. With all the hype, it is important to realize what makes some movie trailers epic while others tend to underwhelm. Here are the top 5 attributes of a successful movie trailer.

1. It should be humble.

I remember watching a Transformers trailer one day and it practically screamed at me, “THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE YOU’LL EVER SEE IN YOUR LIFE!”, or something to that effect. Thank you obnoxiously loud trailer, but I think I should be the judge of that. Good movie trailers are the ones that don’t need critic reviews or over stated titles to tell you the movie is good. For instance, here is the trailer for the upcoming movie The Hobbit. This film is highly anticipated and could easily add on quotes from practically any critic, but instead they let it speak for itself.

2. It should set up the basic premise.

All to often, trailers leave us with either too much information on the plot or not enough. Successful trailers find that sweet spot right in between. It tells us what we can expect to happen in the movie without giving away any crucial plot points. I think the Harry Potter movies have always done a great job with this. The trailers remind us where we left off, remind us that we’re still fighting evil and then leave it at that.

3. Introduce some, but not all, of the main characters.

Especially if you have a star-studded cast, it is easy to get wrapped up in giving everyone face time during the trailer. Try to focus on one or two characters that might get the audience excited instead of bombarding them with the whole ensemble. The more you keep a surprise, the better reactions you will get during the movie itself. Take the latest Dark Knight trailer for instance. We see little glimpses of good and evil, but the trailer itself doesn’t go into depth about who is who. We’re supposed to figure that out ourselves, which makes this all the more
powerful and exciting.

4. Use awesome music.

An awesome piece of music can totally make or break a trailer. It doesn’t always have to be super dramatic, either. As long as the music genuinely reflects the mood of the movie, you’ll be golden. For instance, Where the Wild Things Are featured an awesome track from The Arcade Fire. Using that band and that specific song took a movie that might have otherwise been considered a children’s film and turned it into a trip down memory lane that any 20 something hipster would love.

5. Capture the mood of the movie.

If you don’t capture the overall mood, then what’s the point? When cutting your trailer, focus on emotion instead of plot points. Make the audience excited to enter whatever world you’re trying to sell them. Pixar does a great job of this. Every year they create worlds we have never seen before, but their trailers make us feel like we’ve been there a dozen times and can’t wait to go back for another adventure.

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