Evolution of the Movie Trailer
March 1, 2004 3:31 PM   Subscribe

I have always wondered when the movie trailer became what it is today. When i watch trailers for old movies, they seem to have this crazy fanfare with the star's names in huge type, etc. Then trailers from the 60s and 70s seem to have no music at all, but just a man with a very low voice narrating the plot. When did they become the flashy music-driven mini-movies that they are now? I'm guessing around the time of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I'd love to know the real answer.
posted by Slimemonster to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
I would think Irwin Allen's disaster films maybe, in the mid 70s? (although even earlier depending on the movie--Liz and Dick's Cleopatra, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, etc... and other giant stardriven spectacles of the 50s and 60s got big trailers and buildup--but it was sporadic, and only for really big movies.)
posted by amberglow at 3:39 PM on March 1, 2004

One of the people that they memorialized during the Oscars last night was someone, and I cannot remember the name for the life of me, that was considered a "trailer innovator". And yes, Raiders was I believe on the (short) list they cited, along with Jaws, IIRC.

Um, sorry, guess that really wasn't much help...
posted by Ufez Jones at 3:46 PM on March 1, 2004

The "trailer innovator" they mentioned was Andrew J. Kuehn.
posted by Orb at 4:13 PM on March 1, 2004

Movie trailers have always been key part of packaging and distribution (of course), but most people don't realize how influential they've become just within the last few years. For example, before most producers even buy a script, they submit it to a company that specializes in identifying "trailer moments" in a prospective film script. They might even spend a couple hundred thousand dollars to do one or more full mock-ups of a possible commercial trailer. All this before a single inch of actual film is shot or the script itself is even purchased.

Bill Martell has an interesting website for screenwriters at "ScriptSecrets" and he touches on this phenomenon in one of his daily "Script Tips".
posted by RavinDave at 11:38 PM on March 1, 2004

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