Buried treasure

Ever wonder why the movie you see in the theatre looks nothing like the trailer you saw for it? The one that made you decide to pay ten dollars to see the movie? Last week David Pogue asked that question in his column Circuits, complaining that the film National Treasure: Book of Secrets did not contain the most memorable scenes from its trailer. This week he prints a letter from that film’s director Jon Turteltaub, explaining the process by which a movie and trailer are made – including the surprising fact that the trailer is not made after the film; instead, the two are made at the same time by two essentially separate and parallel teams.

Says Turteltaub: “What’s funny is that the filmmakers do exactly what you do. I was watching the final trailer for my movie, saying what you said: ‘Ummm….that’s not in the movie, that’s not in the movie, THAT’S not in the movie.’”

Turteltaub goes on to explain that the very things that make a scene or image good for a trailer may cause it to be left out of the final cut of the film: “Dialogue that is really blatantly clear and ‘explainy’ is GREAT in a trailer. Profound statements like ‘Let’s find that treasure!’ work in a 30-second commercial, but come out pretty lame in a real dialogue scene.”

For Class Discussion

  • How important is the trailer in making you decide to see a movie?
  • How often are there significant differences between the trailer and the eventual movie? Have you ever been disappointed by the difference between a movie and its trailer?
  • Do you think it’s fair for movies to be so different from how they are advertised? Is this false advertising? Why or why not?
  • What decisions might the “trailer director” make in creating a movie’s trailer? How are they different from the decisions the movie’s director makes?

Check out the lesson Hype! for an in-depth look at how movies are promoted.

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