A trailer is probably 2:30 in length, give or take, but a good one is an art form, and a great one is amazing (and may have a positive affect on your revenue stream). Amazon Prime Video added a trailer function to its app on Roku, and I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve decided to watch (or summarily dismissed) via just that function alone. When I worked at ESPN, I always was in awe of the producers/editors/producer-editor combos that could make really cool-looking game teases (NBA, NFL, etc.), because those are essentially trailers, and, really guys, since I’m just blabbering now, it’s an art form.
I remember walking to the subway for work a few years ago and absently-minded flipping through stuff on my phone (because that’s how young, unaffected urbanites deal with their mornings) and finding this trailer and literally being awed:
“Goddamn,” I thought out loud, avoiding passing pedestrians. “Who the hell is that covering Radiohead?”
Turns out it’s actually this:
But the point is, that Social Network trailer was stunning. I doubt I’m alone here, since it has north of eight million views on YouTube. Then I thought about some of the other cool trailers I’ve seen in my life, including this one back in my adolescent years:
The voice-over in that one is a bit of a “whoa, this is from the 1990s” thing, but it tells an interesting story.
The two are tied together by what? Easy: David Fincher.
Here’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
Here’s House of Cards, Season 1:
And here’s the new one for Gone Girl, which features a haunting cover of “She:”
These are all David Fincher-associated projects. His trailers are now legendary for their patented style:
At long last we have a glimpse of David Fincher’s latest film—Gone Girl, based onGillian Flynn’s best-selling novel—and it’s a masterclass in the Fincher trailer formula: take a famous song, commission a slightly counterintuitive cover, set it to scenes of gritty drama and mystery, and watch the masses soak it up in rapt attention.
Not all Fincher’s projects hit — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo should have been much bigger than it was, and House of Cards Season 2 was generally considered uneven — but the trailers/teasers associated with his work are stunning. There’s limited consensus on “the greatest trailer of all-time,” although it may well be Alien (see below), but many do consider The Social Network to be up there.
This is all a shame, because Fincher just punted on a Steve Jobs biopic written by Aaron Sorkin — with, potentially, Christian Bale as Steve Jobs. (He likely would have been better than Ashton Kutcher was.) If Fincher and his team were able to do a trailer like the “Creep” one for a movie about Mark Zuckerberg, imagine the trailer for a potential Steve Jobs movie in the hands of Fincher. Alas, ’tis not to be.
I neglected to include the Fight Club trailer earlier, so there it is:
Fincher’s trailers evolved to the “counter-intuitive cover of a song over shots of action promising a mature, complex movie” idea only in the past half-decade or so, but his trailers before that were still interesting — although they tended to involve dialogue and one-off shots more than the underlying music.