Are Movie Clips Too Much of a Good Thing?

by Stefanie Kiteley

It’s debatable whether or not releasing clips of a movie is a good idea.  Is it too much content being released for something that studios are hoping people will pay to go and see?

Movie clips are often released before the movie comes out in theaters to build a buzz about the movie.  While this might be a good idea in theory, some people seem to think that if the movie hasn’t already given everything away in the trailer then they are giving it all up in the abundance of clips they put out.

However I think that the benefits of releasing clips are important in marketing a movie and should not be overlooked.

Reasons Why Movie Clips Are a Good Idea

1. Build Buzz

Putting out clips can build a buzz around a film, it can get people excited to see a little piece of the finished action.  It also helps if it is a movie that already has a lot of fan following (like a book to movie adaptation) because people tend to make gifs of it and spread it across the internet, particularly in fan populated communities like Tumblr.  The gifs get liked and shared and commented on.  New and interesting content can excite people.

2. Build proof

Movies often receive a lot of criticism before they are even released.  Whether it’s the potential plot or the casting, people tend to find something to critique.  If a film is actually good but has had a lot of negativity surrounding it for whatever reason, releasing clips could possibly help the film’s case.  If the movie is good, and the clip is a reflection of that, that could help diminish some of the doubts that often surround the question of quality of a film.

3. Create connection

The first clip that Divergent released was a potentially a risky move.  On one hand it proved that the lead actors had good chemistry, displayed better in a full scene than any trailer flicking by quick moments could truly show.  On the other hand it could be potential spoilers for people who haven’t read the book (though to be fair, anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled perhaps should not go in search of spoilers, or should at least refrain from watching).

After first watching the scene I skimmed the YouTube comments and the one that really stood out to me was someone saying that they really liked the scene and they felt more of a connection to it than they had to any of the trailers.  The trailers for Divergent had a heavy focus on the action scenes, which are prevalent and an important part of the story, and were probably used to market to a wider audience.  But a scene that is more emotional and tender, as well as a recognizable scene from the book, is more likely to cause an emotional connection with the viewer.

4. Show worthiness post-release

Releasing clips of the movie doesn’t necessarily have to come before the movie’s release.

Frozen did incredibly well at the box office upon its theatrical release, and continued to do so.  It may seem counterintuitive to release a big scene, a full musical number no less, from a smash hit.  “Let It Go” was a stunning scene with a spectacular song that went on to win an Oscar for best original song.  So what would be the point in releasing it for everyone to see?  Because of all the reasons I just listed.

Frozen was in a unique position given that it was an animated Disney movie that was supposed to be just another kid’s movie.  Just another Disney princess movie.  But Frozen delivered with a great story, catchy songs, an amazing voice cast, and truly beautiful animation.  Releasing the “Let It Go” scene was great marketing because it showcased the beautiful song and gorgeous animation, proving that it was more than just a movie about a snowman or your typical princess movie.  This clip potentially brought in a slew of new viewers that realized they might be missing out on something great.  Posting this clip helped to feed the continuous buzz around the film.

Releasing this clip also had the potential of drawing previous viewers back in.  Anyone who wanted to listen to the song, rewatch the scene, or show the scene to someone else was then reminded how good it was and may have been tempted to go back and watch it again on the big screen (I certainly did).

All about moderation

I believe, as with most things in life, it really comes down to moderation.  For example, should you eat a cookie?  Sure, why not.  Should you eat the whole batch of cookies?  Probably not.

If a movie decides to release some clips, it should be a few, not ten in quick succession.  Be sure that it’s scenes that will actually make people want to go see the rest of the movie, not scenes that make it feel as though they have now seen all the good parts.

Too much of a good thing will make people sick of it, whether it’s too many cookies or too many movie clips.


Movie clips can be great to build a buzz or hype about the film by giving the audience something that they really connect with and find worthwhile to watch.  The key is moderation, while movie clips can be an effective marketing tool they may lose their effectiveness if they are released in abundance.