Film trailers are film advertisements. They are shown before the screening of another movie, at a cinema where the films will be exhibited, as well as in the lobby and on Internet. They are more formally known in theaters as previews of coming attractions. The term “trailer” comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a film programme. Although that practice did not last long, due to patrons tending to leave the theater after the films proper were finished, the name has stuck. Trailers have since been shown before the film begins (or before the first film (a-film) in a double-bill programme begins).
Trailers normally consist of a series of selected shots from the film being advertised. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract an audience to the film being advertised, they usually draw from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film but in abbreviated form and without producing spoilers. The scenes are not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the film. This helps avoiding spoilers.
Some trailers use “special shoot” footage, which is material that has been created specifically for advertising purposes and which does not appear in the actual film. One of the most notable films to use this technique was Terminator 2: Judgment Day, whose trailer featured elaborate special effects scenes that were never intended to be in the film itself. Another one of the most famous “special shoot” trailers was that used for the 1960s thriller Psycho, which featured director Alfred Hitchcock giving viewers a guided tour of the Bates Motel, eventually arriving at the infamous shower. At this point, the soft-spoken Hitchcock suddenly throws the shower curtain back to reveal the only scene from the movie included in the trailer—Janet Leigh’s blood-curdling scream.
The people who create trailers often begin their work while the movie is still being shot. Since the edited movie does not exist at this point, the trailer editors work from rushes. The trailer may be created at the agency while the movie itself is being cut together at the studio. Thus, the trailer may contain footage that is not in the final movie, or the trailer editor and the movie editor may use different takes of a particular shot.
Some trailers that incorporate material that is not in the movie are particularly coveted by collectors, especially in the case of trailers for classic films. For example, in a trailer for Casablanca the character Rick Blaine says “OK, you asked for it!” before shooting Major Strasser, an event which does not occur in the final film.
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