Do Film Trailers Give Away Too Much?

Taking my inspiration from the spoiler-ridden trailer for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to raise the question: do film trailers give away too much?

Regardless of what is or isn’t shown in the trailer, there will always be fanboys who research  upcoming films as much as they can, discovering salient plot points and character profiles months before the film is released – but what about the rest of us? Personally, I love to be absorbed by a film and be totally engrossed at every twist and turn – so why ruin it?

A team consisting of the director, producer and some marketing pros usually collaborate to decide which scenes to include in the trailer and how the narrative should flow. There has been much talk on the internet about what makes a good trailer, and one website ( has cleverly put together a ‘Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever’, which shows how unimaginative and formulaic trailers can be.

Back to what makes a good trailer. According to, these are the three golden rules: Don’t give away too much; Don’t be too cryptic; Speak to your intended audience – but the first rule seems to be forgotten about in many trailers. Comedies often give away the best jokes, thrillers reveal the twist in the teaser trailer, and action flicks unveil the most epic moments, spoiling the story and climactic scenes for many viewers.

Recently, some trailers that have caused uproar across the internet due to their spoiler-ridden content have included Catfish (2010), Children of Men (2006) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). I was dragged to see another such film, The Grey (2011) which looked awful from the trailer to begin with, and subsequently discovered that the very last scene of the film, the supposed climax, was actually given away in the trailer – so there was no surprise or twist at the end, and I had sat through 2 hours of awful cinema for nothing.

I believe that there should be some kind of monitoring system for trailers, like the BBFC for the films themselves, so that those of us who want to enjoy films without already knowing the ending can sit back and get our money’s worth. Although some studios seem to think that their main audience are simple folk who couldn’t string a plot together without some extra help, this reviewer is tired of anticipating a film for months and then being severely disappointed.

Here’s to spoiler-free trailers!

About teafortwotalk

Freelance writer @Pickwickmag @Corridor8 @Biennial / Editor @artinliverpool. Available for writing and copyediting.
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