I used to adore trailers. They were such a highlight of the moviegoing experience for me, that sometimes I was actually disappointed when they ended and the feature presentation began. I have fond memories of the late '90s, when watching a trailer over a 56K connection meant waiting several minutes for the video to load, especially if you wanted one of the larger sizes. The release of new ones for anticipated movies always felt like an event. But while I was putting together the most recent "Trailers! Trailers!" post, it hit me how my attitudes toward trailers have almost entirely changed over the last few years. Sure, I still watch them and analyze them and write about them, but a lot of the fun is gone.
There are the obvious culprits. Trailers are so accessible now, you can see them at any time on demand, not just in theaters or prepended to home media releases. The information that they contain is often available through many other outlets. There's the oversaturation issue - too many trailers spoiling too many surprises have been blamed for diminishing the actual movie watching experience. There are some good arguments for avoiding trailers altogether. However, the trailers themselves haven't really changed all that much over the years, and that includes the amount of spoilers. I can still name plenty of good ones from the last year or so - "Whiplash," "Black Mass," and the various "Force Awakens" trailers.
A big thing that has changed, however, is presentation. There's been a particularly annoying development recently, the pre-trailer trailer, or a five-second preview for a trailer leading into the actual trailer. These have been implemented on Youtube and other platforms to keep potential viewers from skipping them when they autoplay. Of course, if you're trying to watch the trailer directly, they're terrible. And often, there are the mood-wrecking post-trailer ads that will point you to a film's website, supplementary material, or other trailers. Film trailers have long been considered content in and of themselves, but are now being packaged and promoted more aggressively than ever. I admit that I'm wary of watching the latest "Bourne" trailer because the previews for the preview have been so obnoxious, though I'm still looking forward to the actual film.
Then there's the whole culture around movie trailers, which has grown increasingly hostile. Most of the highly anticipated blockbusters have their trailers dissected and analyzed frame by frame these days, and filmmakers have even been throwing in Easter eggs for the particularly rabid fans to find. Massive controversies can erupt over the tiniest details, which are taken out of the context of a finished film, of course. The recent "Ghostbusters" teaser was a pretty dull and uninspired affair, but the negative reaction to it has been comically over the top, indicating that many viewers are writing the film off sight unseen. Usually it's the other way around. Trailers are major drivers of hype, and if you want to avoid the hype surrounding a new release, you need to steer clear of the trailer discussions online. And as much as people complain about the spoilers in the trailers, spoilers in the discussions of trailers are endemic.
I still love getting a first peek at an anticipated film, but dealing with everything that comes with a trailer is getting increasingly difficult. Certainly my own tastes have changed over the years and I've learned that knowing less about a film beforehand is usually better than knowing more. For most of the studio films that I want to see, I stop after the initial teaser - most of them are hitting the two minute mark and are essentially full-length trailers anyway. I think a large part of my growing ambivalence towards trailers is that I'm not actually seeing them in nearly the numbers that I used to. Trips to physical theaters are still rare for the time being, due to personal issues, and I watch so many films through VOD or other online outlets where trailers are not attached. In short, I've simply fallen out of the habit of watching them.
I don't actually watch trailers unless I go looking for them, and then it's usually for films I'm already interested in watching. Watching trailers, oddly, has become a bit of a chore when I no longer depend on them to figure out which movies I want to watch.