Is this the newest thing? Is this a good thing, and if so, where does it end? In today’s post, I want to discuss trailers having trailers. Perhaps I’m late to the party and it’s been going on for years, but while watching trailers last night, I encountered what I consider to be a new and fascinating species of a/v movie marketing: the trailer debut announcement. Apparently, some trailers are so important and so widely anticipated that they’ve been given their own trailers.

For Ridley Scott‘s upcoming PROMETHEUS, slated for a June 7th release, the studio marketing department at Fox and its trailer boutique vendors, released two (at least) announcements in the week prior to the release of the trailer on March 19th.

Titled “Prometheus Trailer Debut Announcement,” this :21 preview of a preview is cut like a TV spot, with graphic copy (white on black) narrating what we’re seeing: “prepare to experience/ the new trailer/ for the most anticipated movie/ of the year”.
As a synthesized choir sings a rising sequence of notes–with urgent overtones– against an ominous, suspenseful drum beat, we see shots of the interstellar craft, then scenes of the baleful events unfolding on the planet’s surface. The music crescendoes to a thudding kettle drum finale, as the images of a mission gone awry culminate in a quick cut sequence of action, terror and doom. Charlize Theron is discernible in a lead role, although no cast run is offered. The final graphic, provides the title, the release date of the film, the youtube link, and the release date of March 19th for the official trailer.

Genre, spectacle and stars are foregrounded; story elements are presented only in the broadest strokes: a catastrophic end to an ambitious mission. Ridley Scott’s name is not featured, although presumably target audiences will be aware of his involvement. Clearly, this is an event sell, an experience to be had, whether of the trailer or its feature.


In this :15 herald, the studio marketers revive one of the more venerable trailer approaches to accomplish their aims. It’s a hosted trailer, featuring Charlize Theron, appearing as herself, “Hi, I’m Charlize Theron, and it’s almost time for the debut of the Prometheus trailer, featuring new footage. Be sure not to miss it,” she says, before approximately 3 seconds of footage from the feature are shown. The screen then goes “snowy,” as if the transmission has gone dead (oooh!), followed by the title card, with feature release date, youtube link and trailer release date. Implicit in this promotional piece is the information that Ms. Theron is the star of the film. But her invitation to viewers to watch the trailer also presumes prior audience awareness with the film and its putative event appeal. No mention is made of what Prometheus is or the identify of its filmmaker.

The trailer debut announcement is not for every film, obviously, but it does confirm the increasing importance of the fan community, to whom such additional “previews” and reminders are pitched.

I suppose the unlikely danger of this innovation is that an endless sequence of coming attractions announcements be produced for a given feature, all deferring the pleasure of the film and teasing the audience into a state of hyper-excitation (or exhaustion). As a copywriter and toiler in the salt mines of movie marketing, I cannot but contemplate such an abyssal eventuality with anything other than delight.

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movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

About Frederick Greene

Entertainment Copywriter & Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Dept. of Theater, Film & Television. I teach a graduate seminar in new movie marketing, which focuses on the history, contemporary practice and likely future of a/v advertising for motion picture entertainment.
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2 Responses to PROMETHEUS HERALDS: Trailer Coming Soon

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