When a film is made, often the last piece to come together is the film’s score, often well after marketing has already commence. Therefore, movie trailers themselves are often forced to use the soundtracks from other movies. For instance, the Wall-E trailer used the score from Brazil; X-Men Origins: Wolverine used music from 300 in its trailer; and the trailer for Robocop used pieces of the score for Terminator. Some of these soundtracks are used quite frequently in trailers. For instance the love theme from Love Actually is common in romantic comedies; the music from Liar Liar is frequently used in rousing family films; and Danny Elfman’s music from Edward Scissorhands will show up all over the place.
Below, however, are five of the more popular soundtracks scores recycled for movie trailers. If you spend any time in the theater, you’ll no doubt recognize all of them.
“”Lux Æterna” by Clint Mansell: Originally written for Requiem for a Dream, the song was orchestrated and re-purposed for the Lord of the Rings: Two Towers trailer and has since been used in, among other trailers, Zathura, The Da Vinci Code, Sunshine, Babylon A.D. and the TV series “Lost” and “Top Gear.” (Go to 1:38 for the familiar riff).
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” by Wojciech Kilar. Listen to the last 20 seconds of the main theme in the video below, and you’ll almost certainly recognize it in dozens of trailers, including 12 Monkeys, Pirates of the Caribbean, Demolition Man, Underworld and What Lies Beneath. Ironically, the Stargate trailer uses this theme, although — as noted below — the soundtrack for Stargate itself is reused dozens of times in other trailers. The last 20 seconds of this will be familiar to everyone).
“Bishop’s Countdown,” by James Horner for Aliens: Seventy percent of all genre movies have trailers that feature the music of James Horner, whether it be from his score for Braveheart, The Rocketeer, Legend of the Fall or Glory. Avatar even re-used music from Horner’s Willow soundtrack for its trailer. But the most frequently used one is the climax from “Bishop’s Countdown,” in the Aliens soundtrack, which has been re-used in the trailers for, among others, The Abyss, Minority Report, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, From Dusk til Dawn and The Vanishing. Basically, any time a trailer wants to convey the arrival of danger, this is the go-to choice. Head to the 1:00 mark; you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Stargate by David Arnold. Originally composed for the movie Stargate (Arnold’s first gig as a composer for a major motion picture), the soundtrack has been re-used in numerous trailers, including Deep Rising, Independence Day, Jumanji, The Mummy, The Polar Express, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Waterworld. More recently, it was used in the Drag Me to Hell trailer.
“Come See Paradise,” by Randy Edelman. You’ve probably never even heard of the original movie, which starred Dennis Quaid, but the soundtrack has been used innumerable times in other trailers, including those for A Few Good Men, Thirteen Days, Clear and Present Danger , Patriot Games ,The Sum of All Fears and Devil In A Blue Dress.
Though not as frequently used as “Come See Paradise,” Edelman’s theme for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is perhaps more familiar as the treacly tear-jerking music you hear in trailers for movies like Radio, Nell, Cinderella Man, Forest Gump and The Truman Show.