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New Rule: Trailers Should Not Be Allowed to Feature Shots from the Final Act of the Film

By Brock Wilbur | Industry | June 12, 2014 |

By Brock Wilbur | Industry | June 12, 2014 |

This starts from a completely separate place. There’s a crowd-sourced site now that keeps track of all the science fiction predictions ever made, and which ones came true. It’s called, obviously, Dystopia Tracker, and it is available here.

Once you’ve lost a few hours in that beautiful, awful wormhole, let’s come back.

The trailer was released this week for The Weinstein Company’s adaptation of The Giver, which includes some spoilers about the big twist in the film.

It follows in the footsteps of such spoilerific trailer edits as Ender’s Game, which ends on the same final reveal as the film, which was a very upsetting choice for those of us who believed the film could be something more. But this is an inherent problem in the industry. Often, the larger tent-pole action moments are best exemplified in the final 30 minutes of the film, and their inclusions show off not only impressive moments to look forward to, but also tap into that part of the human brain that prefers to experience a spoiled story. For more examples, check the trailers for Quarantine, What Lies Beneath, and even Chinatown.

This is a preferable experience to the trend of a few years back (not a new one, just a pinnacle) in which new scenes were filmed for trailers, especially comedies. Thankfully, that practice has fallen off a bit in the age where the internet spot checks every frame.

Our desire to see the entirety of what we’re paying for is leading to a detrimental cinematic experience for us all. I know it must hurt to leave your biggest budget shot on the cutting room floor, but can we agree on a new set of rules? Maybe if Hollywood collectively defused this arms race by omitting any shot from the final thirty minutes, we’d get back some of the magic we’ve been hemorrhaging. Mostly, I point to the trailers for Christopher Nolan’s films: they always include a first or second act sequence of note, but never anything that would give us closure, or even detail on the situation, and often omit main characters entirely. I still pay to see everything he makes. I understand not everyone can be Nolan, but it’s possible a large chunk of what he artistically retains is simply the ability to surprise, and anyone with marketing restraint can access that.

It feels a very dark futuristic element, worthy of Dystopia Tracker on some level, to observe a society that pays to watch stories play out, but prefers to know how they end before deciding to even begin.

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