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.


Are Movie Trailers Giving Up the Whole Story?

by Stefanie Kiteley

A comment that I come across frequently on the Internet is, “I feel like I just watched the whole thing.”

This is a complaint that I’ve seen registered frequently on YouTube, and other sites, when movie trailers come out.  All too often people seem to watch the trailer and think that the whole plot of the movie has been given away in two minutes.  The exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution have all been covered in a fraction of the actual length of the movie.

I’ve read a fair amount of commentary and reviews on movies as well as trailers, so while I am sure that most viewers know that they haven’t actually seen all the key points of the movie, it doesn’t stop them from feeling this way.

A survey by YouGov discovered that 32% of Americans think movie trailers give away too much plot while 48% disagree.

Below is the trailer for “30 Seconds or Less” which was recommended to me as a trailer where you “see the whole movie in two minutes.”

After people watch a trailer they usually want to be filled with excitement, they want to go see the whole movie right now, be filled with a buzz.  They want to be able to tell their friends about some great looking new movie, they want to be able to post a cool video to their social media platforms.

I think that sometimes movie trailers fail to capitalize on this possibility for great emotion and willingness to share.

Many short videos have proven that there can be highs and lows of emotions in a short amount of time, and taking the viewer through that journey can create a connection to the film.  It can be a serious letdown to watch something and feel like there’s not going to be any sort of payoff because the answer to the mystery has already been given away.

It’s important to note that while the ending isn’t always the most important part, and the journey there is what may make it worth it, frankly that is not always the case for some movies.  People are fully aware that there are many bad movies out there, and consumers seem to be less willing to take a chance on movies if they feel like they’ve already been let down before they even seen the full feature.

It can all come down to the marketers to find the right tone and voice for promoting the film.

There have been several movies whose trailers came out and there was a stir because no one was really sure what the movie was about.  The trailers were intentionally vague, and possibly even so short that audiences did not understand what they might be getting themselves into watching.

This does work for some movies, it can create a buzz or hype about them because of that aura of mystery.  But content absolutely must be kept in mind for this sort of trailer.  It seems to work best for apocalyptic, horror, mysteries and other, darker genres.  It can also work well for sci-fi or fantasy movies where the plots are too complex to truly cover in a trailer.  It’s all about the way the movie should be perceived and the audience that would connect with that.  However it seems that this kind of trailer still lends to the chance that viewers may feel deceived by the content they were given.

Trailers do have their work cut out for them, they have to tell a story.  Just enough of a story that they will draw viewers in, but not give away all of the story that they are selling.

This “Guardians of the Galaxy” trailer does a good job at giving viewers an idea of what’s going on but not trying to explain the whole plot of the film in two minutes.  It manages to tell a story but still leaves a sense of mystery for the overall plot.

When trailers come out, they are putting out the biggest brand statement for the film.  It is what most people will see about the movie, and it can dictate who will be willing to watch it.  I feel that it is important that these advertisements be done to the best of their ability.

Perhaps the way about it is that trailers need to make the viewer do some of the work.  Draw the viewer in, make them question what they think they know, keep them guessing, and intrigue them enough to want to go watch the rest of the story.

In my opinion it all comes down to balance.  It’s all a matter of utilizing the content to draw customers in so that they want to hear the story and see it all the way through.

Tell a story that makes people want to pay to find out the ending.