I always like to make sure I’m sat in my seat at the cinema in time for the trailers. It’s partly because I hate awkwardly shifting past people in the dark as the movie’s starting, but I’ve always thought the trailers are part of the whole experience. It wouldn’t feel right without them but the art of a trailer is a very tricky one. It’s a real balancing act to get people excited enough to come back and buy a ticket without spoiling the whole plot. Terminator Genisys (2015) trailer gave away the film’s big twist. The trailer for the kid’s animation, The Secret Life of Pets (2016) had all of the best bits in it, leaving little else for those that went to watch the whole thing. It’s a real tightrope. Here are the trailers that walked it perfectly and left a real impression on me when I first saw them.
9. Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
If ever a trailer told you exactly what to expect from a film, it would be this. Lots of women, drugs, shouting in suits, excess, and Matthew McConaughey doing a monkey impression. Kanye West’s Black Skinhead has been a staple running track for me ever since.
8. Mad Max (2015)
Just watch it. This thing’s beautiful.
7. The Birds (1963)
They may look dated now, but I’ve always been a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock films. He saw the power of the trailer and used it really well here. Hitchcock was very aware of that one of the biggest draws for his films was himself. He would put himself right in the middle of some trailers (and many of his films too), and my favourite is his trailer for his horror, The Birds. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, "Hitch" lectures his audience on the history of birds and their relationship with humans. Suddenly you wouldn't blame them with turning on us...
6. Godzilla (2014)
The film didn’t quite live up to the expectation here, but what a trailer. The visuals are absolutely stunning as a team dive out of the back of a plane towards the clouds with flares burning out behind them. As they breach the cloud we can see the burning embers of the city below and ‘something’ (…it’s Godzilla) barely peeking out from the smoke. There’s a few scenes of things exploding (and Heisenberg crying), and it closes with that Godzilla wail. I was pumped.
5. Cloverfield (2008)
As if JJ Abrams wasn’t messing with our heads enough making up Lost as he went along, he then decided to drop this teaser trailer for his modern King Kong/Godzilla movie. It didn’t even give the name of the film at the end (only the release date) and started a wave of internet speculation as to what it could be about. All people had to go on was that iconic head of the statue of liberty crashing through a New York street.
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
A brief look in to the world the terminator from the future inhabits, this trailer shows the production line of cyborgs, as it pieces together a brand new T-800. What I really liked about this was that it didn’t give away the films greatest trick: to make Arnie the good guy this time round. The film plays on this right from the start as he gets nearer and nearer to John Connor. At the final moment, Swazenegger protects Connor and fires at the new T-1000 behind him. It was a genius move, and this trailer played it so well. Always reminds me of the 3D/live action T2 show at Universal Studios too.
3. Alien (1979)
As if the film itself wasn’t terrifying enough, the trailer that brought us one of the best tagline’s ever would have been enough for audiences to hide behind their popcorn. Thankfully it doesn’t give too much away about the alien itself, and leaves its ambiguous title and audience imagination to do the work for it.
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
With sequels this good, many often forget how good Batman Begins actually was. I was already excited for it’s follow up, but it’s fair to say the best super hero film ever made got a trailer to match. Hints at the action scenes Nolan had created, and some clips at Heath Ledger’s Joker creation got people in a frenzy.
1. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Stieg Larsson’s brilliant Millenium trilogy had already been turned in to a series of films in 2009 in Sweden. It was the making of Noomi Rapace who got the prickly danger of the lead Lisbeth Salander absolutely spot on. It was a bit of a shock at the time then when David Fincher chose the ex girlfriend from ten minutes of The Social Network for the role in his English language remake. Concerns of this paled in comparison to the outcry of James Bond playing the overweight journalist Mikael Blomkvist, but any concerns were misplaced in my opinion. Both were perfect in a remake I didn’t think was necessary at the time. I think I may have begun to come round to the idea when this trailer dropped. The flashing imagery. The deafening Led Zeplin cover. Slowly creeping down the long drive. It’s unnerving, and a real shock to the senses that gets better with every viewing. As well as being my favourite ever trailer, the opening sequence to the film with tar-covered bodies and same ‘Immigrant Song’ cover is brilliant too. Just imagine a James Bond title sequence. But terrifying.