approved for all audiences

a critical and rhetorical look at the art and artifice of the movie trailer

7.26.2006

Allow Me Just A Minute To Geek Out Here...

Last night I went to see Lady In The Water - another conversation entirely - and I was completely shocked by the absence of one small detail before the film. Before I explain, just let me assure you that by saying "completely shocked" I am not indulging in hyperbole. I am just that amount of geek - as you have no doubt already realized.

Anyway, after the now obligatory FandangoTM, Jimmy Fund, and soft drink commercials ceased, there were five or six almost unbearably loud and exciting trailers, but not a single one was preceded by a screen displaying the oh-so-familiar green band! In all of my geekiness, and opposition to change, it was hard for me to adjust to this new dynamic. I quickly realized why I missed the green band so much: it acts like a palette cleanser before each trailer, giving you a chance to recover from whatever bombastic, obnoxious, or ridiculous ploys you were just subjected to.

I don’t know if this is a new trend – has anyone else experienced this? – or just a one-off thing, but I can’t help but wonder why a studio would decide to do this. At this point, I think we can all assume that trailers before a movie rated PG-13 or below will not be red band trailers, so perhaps there is no longer a need for the green band, other than to display the film’s MPAA rating. The experience was extremely unsettling though. There was barely any opportunity to recover from one trailer to the next, and hardly any indication that a new trailer was beginning. It also erased the separation between the aforementioned commercials and the trailers – two things that I firmly believe occupy very different aesthetic space.

At any rate, it made me think about the expanded domain of the trailer. As this blog ably demonstrates, trailers are no longer confined to movie theatres and VHS tapes. They are readily available via the internet for repeated viewing, and, in most cases at this point, for download to portable devices like iPods. Even though online trailers are still preceded by the green band, perhaps this user-friendly trend will help to do away with that. I don’t imagine that too many people are taking advantage of it, but the newest video iPods allow users to make video playlists, so it is conceivable that you would want to include your favorite trailers in an endless stream of video content, alongside installments of Rocketboom, obscure weirdo content from YouTube, and episodes of Desperate Housewives downloaded from iTunes.

One last thing worth mentioning… if any of you have been viewing these trailers via the apple website, instead of directly off of this page, you have probably noticed the elaborate backgrounds that are being created for these trailers, often times giving more insight to the tone or plot of the movie than what is offered in the trailer itself.

Again, I could be stretching here. Anyone else have more evidence or insights?

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