Here's how and why movie trailers lie to you

Originally published at: Here's how and why movie trailers lie to you | Boing Boing

My favorite trailers are the arthouse ones from the '60s and '70s with a voiceover that basically claims that watching the movie will be a life-changing experience.


It drives me nuts when trailers have scenes that aren’t in the film. I’ve always assumed this is because trailers are produced in parallel with final edits because production has to be pipelined to hit deadlines. Then sometimes the final edit of the movie (perhaps after test audience screenings) cause shots used in the trailer to get cut.

If that’s wrong, someone feel free to let me know so I don’t have to watch a whole video to get this one piece of information.


I assume the same. And they are targeting different audiences: a trailer is there to convince someone to pay to see the film. I’m sure editing for a commercial is very different for editing for a feature.


OH yeah, when a trailer scene ends up getting cut, and then your brain somehow melds that scene into the movie, and you swear you saw something about it, and years later have to look it up and realize it was a glimpse in the trailer.

Same with things like comics, cards and video games. Like the Alien3 video game had levels based on whole scenes and plot points that were cut (TBF, that movie started filming with out a finished script.) But you end up with references in them that were in the scripts and reference material provided, but didn’t actually make it to the end.

In modern times, Rogue One is the trailer I can think of that had several shots not in the final film.


The same thing happens to me with directors’ cuts. I happened to see the director cut of Aliens the first time, so for 20 years I went around saying how much I love the auto-turret scene (still a defining moment in the film, IMHO and some of the best drama in it). People often had no idea what I was talking about. I was actually mad when I learned that scene wasn’t actually in the normal release. :joy:


huh. who knew? and why did no one say anything until now? :wink:


I watched Aliens on the original cinematic release, and prefer that, tighter, version of the film. What did throw me for a loop was the soundtrack. It sounded like there was some sprocket noise coming over the speakers, as though the film was badly worn. It was only after a couple of scenes that I worked out the noise was the sound effect for the motion trackers. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It is still may favourite movie. :heart_eyes:


I liked the movie “In a world…” (In a World... (2013) - IMDb) that takes place in the mileau of trailer voiceover professionals. I guess they put it out before the field totally dried off.
It is low key but quite fun. It introduced me to the concept of the sexy-baby voice.
Check out its trailer!


That’s weird, I must have seen the directors cut the first time I saw the movie, because I too thought that was in the movie the whole time!

I have the Aliens Quadrilogy which has all the extra scenes and great director commentary.


Same! And yeah, I love the way it showed how badly outnumbered they were.


SO GOOD. This is the moment that cements how well and truly fucked they are. The non-director’s cut without that is frankly just insulting. :smile:

The drama of the tight shots on the ammo counters, the guns running dry one by one… gets me every time.

It’s also important world building. The colonial marines have all the cool hardware, but they’re up against something that overwhelms all technology with sheer numbers and predatory instinct. It’s the key Aliens dichotomy, and nothing illustrates it more than the aliens overwhelming assumed-to-be-unassaultable auto-turrets with sheer numbers and fearlessness.


Or when there are different scenes cut, or not, depending on the market the cut is for.

Disney seems to be one of the worst offenders for this lately, with scenes they will cut for the Chinese release (usually LGBQTI+ characters), but I know I have watched movies in the past where the US, UK and Australian release were all slightly different


When I worked at a big-name service bureau in the early 2000s, we were looking at a pipeline for being able to publish all the versions of a feature in any needed digital format. At the time, a typical feature would have about 160 different versions – dubs, edits for local censorship laws or ratings boards, airline versions, broadcast versions, etc. There would be special cuts for Catholic countries, and multiple versions in some languages for regional differences.


it’s always wild to think how one guy did basically all the trailers ever ( only a slight exaggeration i think )


Yah, it was him and people imitating him for a good thirty years or so. Iconic! He was the voice a generation, in a way. He had a really great sense of humour about his role in culture, too. He participated in a number of parodies of himself.

I love that all you have to say is, “In a world…” and everyone knows who you’re talking about.


I have a friend who produces movie trailers. The deleted scenes, the unintentional spoilers, the voiceovers in the wrong places, all of that stuff – it’s because studios just shove a bunch of footage and sounds at him with no context and no guidance, and he has to assemble something from it. It’s not really his fault.


The thesis seems to be that there’s some contract with the audience that ”trailer” means a Costco-style free sample. But I’m not sure where that comes from, because there have always been different styles of advertising movies, and if anything the strict “free sample” approach is associated with campaigns that don’t have a budget for anything else.

No one complains that Star Wars doesn’t actually have the scene from the poster where Luke holds up his light saber in front of Darth Vader’s giant floating head.

Admittedly, I just plain don’t like trailers, especially for stuff I already want to see, so I don’t feel the same investment.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.