Which blockbuster's trailers have shown you the most?
Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, or Spider-Man: whose trailers have shown you the most so far?
In recent weeks we’ve had a seeming avalanche of promotional material for the upcoming blockbuster films, and many fans are beginning to wonder if there are going to be any surprises left at all in the film! But have we really been spoilt when it comes to blockbuster films? Prometheus in particular has come under sustained fire for giving the game away, but is that really justified?
Well, as it turns out, it's not the worst offender, in terms of the actual footage we've been shown. Here's the evidence...
At my count, there are around 16 different teasers, trailers, TV spots and clips for Prometheus so far, and that’s not counting the viral clips featuring Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender, nor the behind the scenes featurettes or even the stills. That’s a lot of marketing copy out there by anyone’s reckoning, so it’s safe to say that the feeling that audiences will be going into the film with a very clear idea of what they’ll be seeing may well be justified.
But just how much footage is new and how much is repeated? Do we have a total amount to get worked up about and hurl at the Fox marketing department? I’m going to start with the somewhat criticised second version of the three minute international trailer, which many feel is far too spoilerific. I’ll use this as my benchmark for footage, and add on anything else I’ve found while watching the other trailers. This isn’t a trailer analysis, so don’t expect any revelations or digging through the shots with a fine-toothed comb, but what I am aiming to do is try and work out just how much of the film has potentially been screened for us before we’ve stepped foot in the cinema. A small disclaimer is that my timings won’t be accurate to the millisecond/frame, but they’ll be reasonably accurate!
Prometheus International Trailer – 3 minute version
There’s about 2’46’’ worth of footage in this trailer, and the content does appear to give a good chunk of the game away – of course there’s a few surprises not shown, but you can get the basics of the story from this footage. You see a hell of a lot, from the landing of Prometheus, to several things running around, plus several shots of the Space Jockey. You also get a big idea of what happens to one or two characters, and what the film builds towards.
Running total of footage – 2’46
Teasers Of The Teaser
However, the film’s been pretty revealing right from the off in light of the international trailer – way back in December of last year we had three teasers for the teaser trailer, each featuring footage found in later trailers but also a couple of extra shots here and there. The 'Three Days To Go' promo had a big giant head, and some behind the scenes shots of cast members being flung around for instance. While each was only about 30’’, we got a second or two of new footage in there I reckon.
Running total – 2’50
The Teaser Trailer
Now this was the trailer that got everyone super excited, and confirmed what a few had thought – Prometheus was going to be the film to look out for in 2012. Setting the mood and atmosphere brilliantly, it teased us with Alien style font in the title reveal, plus contained a lot of familiar looking environments and the promise of something pretty nasty afoot. However, what it doesn’t have is any footage that hasn’t subsequently been shown that I can see, beyond maybe a frame or two. The international version of the teaser is identical footage wise, just without any titles. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the guys cutting the trailers seem to have been pretty resourceful with their footage, but perhaps it’s the repetition of the scenes that’s making us think we’ve been spoilt? That and the fact we see absolutely bloody loads in the international trailer…
Running total – 2’50’’
So to the main US domestic trailer, a 2’ 16’’ piece of beauty which firmly establishes Prometheus as a sci-fi horror. It’s pretty similar to the longer international trailer in the second half, but its beginning is almost totally different, opening with its line about a king, with the shot of the alien/messed up human on the waterfall. All in all, I reckon this has 40’’ of new stuff contained within (well, extra footage) and not seen elsewhere.
Running total – 3’30’’
Yep, there’s even a special IMAX only trailer for this bad boy. I’m seeing it in IMAX, my girlfriend bought tickets for me – that is love right there. Anyway, once again it’s quite similar to all the other trailers, I’ve now seen Idris Elba land Prometheus a lot, and it follows the same basic structure of them all: ship lands, a quick investigation, then bad things happen. This one is only missing the briefing at the beginning telling us it’s not a star-map, but an invitation, and instead has some extended bits to things we’ve already seen plus a few cheeky new shots. Rounding up, I reckon there's a further ten seconds of unseen images in this 1’11’’ trailer. It’s actually one of the best trailers in my view, I like the no dialogue (apart from the landing scenes).
Running total – 3’40’’
International Trailer 1
A 2’30’’ international trailer, and the one I’ve seen the most of in cinemas. Again it follows the same structure as the main trailers except with an extended look at what can only be the film's opening scenes, with Noomi Rapace discovering cave paintings and deciding it’s an invitation to go and see the makers. The rest of it has similar shots, the flamethrower, the black eye goo, Fassbender experimenting with big test tubes, lots of people in spacesuits being flung about, and overall there’s only about 5 seconds of actual new footage in here.
Running total – 3’45’’
International Trailer 2
This is the other version of the three minute long international trailer (of which I started the article with), which is basically identical, except with a couple of different shots, nothing of which I could see hadn’t been elsewhere. It's still a good long look at the film though, and the basis for why many people feel they have seen the whole thing. I still contend that the way the trailer editors have used the same couple of minutes of footage repeatedly, and with the same structure has meant we have felt like we’ve seen the whole film. We’re being told a specific story, and perhaps it’s the film in microcosm, or perhaps there’s a lot more in store?
Running total – 3’45’’
There are five TV spots, and the 30 second clips actually surprisingly feature a fair bit of new footage (especially TV Spot 2 and a very spoilery international TV spot), including a good look at the space jockey sans helmet, some passionate action and the crew being attacked. It adds another ten seconds to our running total.
Running total – 3’55’’
So there you go, according to my very precise and scientific calculations, it's actually less than four minutes of Prometheus that's available through the trailers and TV spots. That’s four minutes of a 123 minute long film, which works out to be 3.2% of the entire thing, so you’ve got almost a good two hours of new stuff. Whether that new stuff will hold many surprises is the key though, and we’ll only know that once the film hits. But, given how much Prometheus has been slammed in advance for showing us stuff, it might not have given us quite as much footage as it might first appear.
However, there are also four featurettes floating about, so to be a completist I’ve taken a look at them too and added any new footage into the running total and percentages.
These four featurettes each run to about 1’40’’to 3’30’’ and every one contains a few snippets of new footage, whether this is the odd line or completely new shot. It also has Ridley Scott and others providing details about the movie, from the basic plot outline to the name of the planet they land on and what is there, so there’s a fair bit in here. In total though, there’s 20 seconds of footage we haven’t seen elsewhere. What I would say though is that if you really want to go into the film without knowing too much (appreciating you’ve read this far already!), then avoid these featurettes like the plague.
Complete Total – 4’15’’ or 3.5% of total film
So: how does Prometheus compare to the other blockbusters still to come this summer? The average fan has certainly complained loudest about the spoilers contained within the marketing campaign for Ridley Scott’s latest, but do The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man show less or more? With my same forensic zeal, and in no way fallible research techniques, I’ve had a quick look at the available footage and trailers for these films, and made nice graphs for them too in order to compare the whole lot especially for you…
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
The first teaser trailer released last year got lots of people intrigued, and of its 1’36 run-time, there was 23’’ of actual new footage (not counting voiceovers, and footage from the previous films).
I’ve not actually seen the 6 minute 52 seconds long prologue of The Dark Knight Rises, but I’ve spoken at length to many who have, to gauge what sort of footage from it made it into the other trailers. Clearly, this a good long chunk of the film already out there.
This 2’14 long trailer gave us a good look at what to expect from the film, and a proper glimpse of new villain Bane, hidden in the shadows previously. In total there was around 1’50 of new stuff in there.
The most recent trailer released was 1’50’’ long and after taking out the titles and all the repeated footage, you’re still left with a good 1’10 of unseen footage. This makes it actually quite interesting how much of The Dark Knight Rises we’ve actually seen, in addition to the highly public shoot and the multitude of photos that produced. Warner Bros. just haven’t been releasing a similar but slightly different trailer every week though, which has muted any cries of the film being spoilt. The Dark Knight was 152’ long, so - in the absence of a final confirmed run time for The Dark Knight Rises, we're working along similar numbers.
Total – 10’23’’ or 6.8% of the film (of course this is an approximate based on the guessed running time!)
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
The first footage released of the Spider-Man reboot was this 2’ 30’’ long teaser trailer, culminating in a nice bit of wall-crawling from Spidey’s own perspective. Assuming that that long shot will make the final film and wasn’t just in the teaser for a stunt then we’ve got 2’20’’of footage from the film.
The first official trailer was pretty dark and moody in tone, with a small gag about not dressing as a car thief to lighten the atmosphere. It showed a fair bit, including the spider bite, plus seemed to set up the world and direction of the re-boot while teasing the Lizard. What we got was about 2’ 20’’ of new footage.
The second trailer focussed a lot more on the Lizard this time, while also throwing in some classic Spidey wise-cracking. However, there was once again a lot of new footage on display, with only about 10’’ of repeated stuff in this 2’30’’ trailer, meaning we’re getting some serious glimpses into Marc Webb’s vision of the classic superhero.
The so-called super preview recently released is only really notable for an extended sequence at the beginning with Peter Parker rescuing a boy from a burning car. The second part of it trailer 2 again. However, it’s still another 1’ 30’’ of new footage.
There are also several clips floating about online, or previewed on TV shows. While not adding much or giving anything away that I can tell, they still all feature a lot of new footage in their short running time. Here’s a summary below…
1. Peter trying to get into apartment block to see Gwen 46’’
2. More of Peter Parker disarming the knife criminal and cracking jokes 15’’
3. Peter and Gwen meeting in class for the first time 30’’
4. Peter on the train (asleep before leaping up) 13’’
5. Peter wrecking the bathroom while brushing his teeth 16’’
There’s also a 30’’ TV spot, but that doesn’t seem to have any new footage in it at all.
Total – 9’ 30’’, and we'll work on the assumption that it's a 130 minute film, for the sake of argument (although some rumours suggest it's closer to 90 minutes, which would increase the following percentage). This is 7.3%, meaning that The Amazing Spider-Man is the most 'spoilt' of the three based on percentage of footage released.
So to put this all into context, here’s a graph of all the data collected by me, and analysed above. As you can see - and appreciating the approximations of our maths - it challenges some of the online community’s perceptions about just how much footage there is for various films already available. Prometheus does in fact have by far the lowest amount out there (although this analysis looks at video, not images that have been released). What it does have though is a lot more copy than any of the other two, which is seemingly turning fans off. It also seems to reveal far too much in its short amount of time, and repeatedly reveal the same spoilers in successive trailers, thereby creating the impression it is giving far more away than any other film. So I guess less is more when it comes to variations of trailers, and that way you can release far more footage without anyone getting mad.
Here's the graph (it's a triple axis job...). It includes the first TV spot for The Dark Knight Rises, incidentally, which was released just after we put this together, but included no new footage. Two new TV spots have since emerged for Prometheus, which do include a bit of new footage, but aren't factored in here.
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