The Art of A Preview

Growing up, seeing another one of these always got me hyped!

Written by Steph Wu

I relate my process of going to the movies like a dad preparing the family to go to the airport. Get to the theater early, pick my seat, and catch all the previews. It’s part of the whole experience. But a lot has changed since the early days of my movie going experience. Now, tickets can be bought online, so you don’t really have to show up early. In fact, at AMCs, you can show up 25 minutes after the “start” time and you’ll be right on time for the actual start of the movie. And more so, most trailers can be seen online now, so what’s the point of even sitting through all those previews?

Going to the movies always served two purposes. One, of course, to watch the actual movie. But two, to know what else is coming out! This was how I stayed informed of what to anticipate would be coming soon to a theater near me. I would make mental notes of which trailers interested me, occasionally whispering to whoever I was with that I would like to see that next. But these days, trailers can be seen first on YouTube. No more having to see Harry Potter to catch a first glimpse of the next Twilight installment. We all did this, don’t lie.

I understand, movie going has taken a hit, let alone that most people don’t show up on time for a movie. (Sorry, personal pet peeve). I get it. But, I really miss the days of truly seeing a first look at a movie on a big screen. That is why I go to the movies as a whole, to revel in cinema on a big scale. When Hobbs & Shaw opened Friday 8/2, it turned out that the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s new film, Tenet, was attached. Although I also would like to stipulate that supposedly the trailer is only available during the IMAX screenings. Which, rookie mistake I should’ve known better, it’s Nolan, but also thank you to the trades for completely neglecting that clearly very important detail in their report. Anyways, so I haven’t seen it yet, and there’s no word on when it’ll be released on YouTube.

In some ways, besides the fact that I am actually going crazy not having seen it yet, I think this is really cool. Maybe for the more casual moviegoer, one might not be seeking out trailers consistently. But I really can’t remember the last time I saw a trailer first in theaters. It’s not necessarily a problem, but I miss that element of surprise. I miss that “steal my breath” type of moment when a title card flips and it’s for a movie I’ve been anticipating for months. My hope is that I will still see Tenet’s trailer in theaters. (Don’t worry, I have a plan to use AMC A-List for an IMAX screening of Hobbs & Shaw since I saw a regular showing).

Maybe my irritation regarding this situation is dramatic, but I really believe that at least highly anticipated films warrant that big screen treatment. For instance, it was a no brainer that a trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would be released alongside Avengers: Endgame. Synergy, we love it. However, instead of just waiting literally two weeks, Disney dropped it on YouTube. And yeah yeah, I know there are all these records now about breaking single day views, but honestly, does it matter? I went to a midnight screening of Endgame, and when the trailer showed, I found myself feeling impatient because I had already seen it! Along with I’m sure most everybody in there. How incredible would that moment have been had Disney just waited? First of all, it would have just been Disney straight up flexing on all of us, but knowing that theater environment, we would have gone nuts! That in itself is an additive experience of movie going that I think is part of the reason why we keep coming back. The shared experience of reacting together is why we go, right?

I view the hastiness, so to speak, of releasing trailers on YouTube to be symptomatic of the instant gratification society we live in. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the immediate reactions and memes on social media. Just look at any of the recent trailers like Cats, Sonic the Hedgehog, and etc. In some ways, it’s actually really incredible because people can basically react almost simultaneously together. Obviously, it’s not a problem, but it certainly is a nit I have been picking at for some time. I don’t really foresee a change in trend to follow what Nolan did, but at the end of the day, I still really do appreciate the gesture.

Do you love watching trailers? If so, which ones are your favorites? Or do you groan at the sight of the MPAA preview card? I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment or email me