This article originally ran on Den of Geek UK.
One of the trailers for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is the latest to ignite grumbles about just how much is given away in promos for movies.
This list looks at 25 films where the trailer has given away more than it really should in its promos – and it goes without saying that spoilers lie ahead for each of the movies. Don’t read or click on individual entries of films you’ve not seen if you don’t want to be spoiler sullied!
25. Jurassic World
Director Colin Trevorrow was amongst those who expressed disappointment at this one particular promo for Jurassic World. In it, we see Chris Pratt riding on his motorbike, alongside velcoraptors that surprisingly don’t appear to be eating him. Presented out of context, the scene just looked a little daft. But it also gave away a reveal for near the end of the movie, that you couldn’t help but sit there while watching the film and know it was coming.
24. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Internet chatter had suggested for some time that The Amazing Spider-Man sequel would see the demise of Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy in the film. Thus, the studio needed to tread carefully, to ensure it didn’t give anything extra away in its trailers for the film.
That didn’t, sadly, go to plan. Effectively, the big moment at the end of the film is all but confirmed, as the trailer throws in shots of a falling Stacy. The only question that moment left was whether Spider-Man would catch her or not. But very few people didn’t know the answer by that stage.
23. Funny People
Judd Apatow’s ambitious comedy drama is a film of two halves, with a running time to, er, comfortably accommodate that. The premise of the film is that Adam Sandler’s George Simmons is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Unfortunately, the film itself then reveals that he beats it.
22. Groundhog Day
I love Groundhog Day, and thankfully, it’s a film that warrants rewatching and enjoying time and time again. But I’ve included its trailer here, as it’s the first time I can recall going to see a comedy at the cinema, and feeling I’d heard a lot of the jokes first. Sure, there’s a lot left in the movie, but this for me was one of the first modern comedies to adopt the trend of giving away lots of the key jokes in the trailer.
It’s almost like I had deja vu. But I already knew they were going to check that with the kitchen…
21. Superman III
Ah, I’ve got a soft spot and a half for Superman III. I broke down the lessons it teaches us about computer programming here for a start.
The trailer to the 1983 movie, though, does that explaining the whole plot thing. And it also shows you the final act of the film. And it also shows the big super computer. And it also shows you everything blowing up, leaving little doubt that Superman emerges victorious here.
20. The Double
We’re not talking the Richard Ayoade movie here. Instead, The Double is a lower profile Richard Gere thriller, but it’s one that works when trading on its mysteries. Unfortunately, and you can guess where this is going, this is a thriller that’s insistent on blabbing its best secret in its trailer. The kind of move the undermines the film it happens to be promoting.
As an aside, there aren’t many trailers that cite both Wanted and 3:10 To Yuma in them, though…
19. Rocky IV
Context is everything here. The peerless Rocky IV is a very firm favorite of mine, and Ivan Drago remains Dolph Lundgren’s best role for me too.
The trailer for Rocky IV, though, reveals the death of a major, major character. In fact, the character that was the catalyst for Rocky Balboa’s career, and arguably one of the core characters of the series to that point. It’d be like killing one of the big three or four Avengers, and posting it in the trailer in advance.
Most frustratingly, this is a secret that wouldn’t have been tricky to hide in the 1980s. But for some reason, the Rocky team chose not to.
The derivative yet underrated Tom Cruise/Joseph Kasinski sci-fi thriller Oblivion was a decent hit for Universal back in 2013. And whilst if you’ve seen a smattering of key sci-fi movies you soon suspect what you’re going to get, the second trailer for the film opted to give away big reveals. For a film so strikingly visual, it’s not as if they were short of material they could have used, which doubles the frustration. No matter how cool Morgan Freeman looks.
It was a big gamble to bring James Bond back to the screen for 1995’s GoldenEye. It was no certainty at all that the film would hit, and thus a blanket marketing campaign was launched, and not a cheap one. A key slide on the Powerpoint/Harvard Graphics presentation slide? Give away the surprise villain. Right-o, then…
16. Cabin In The Woods
There’s a lot more going on in Cabin In The Woods than just its initial twist, but this is the kind of film that arguably could have been an easier sell if it played it as a straight horror. Trying to weave the complexities of the film into a trailer was always going to be a long shot, yet just over a minute in, the rug begins to be pulled. That leaves the trailer with a minute to try and explain other stuff, and it all falls apart a little.
The film’s fabulous, mind.
15. Dream House
Daniel Craig headlined this one, most notable really for being the film where he met his now-wife Rachel Weisz. Oh, and the fact that its trailer gave away pretty much everything. If it was a better film – and director Jim Sheridan has made much, much better films – then it’d be far more upsetting…
14. Shutter Island
There was a swift and hefty internet backlash following the release of the first trailer to Shutter Island back in 2009. The promo gave a lot more story away than it seemed necessary, and to Paramount’s credit, it did correct things with subsequent promos. But still: trailer one, which you can see above, had already proven too revelatory for some.
13. Cast Away
Robert Zemeckis will appear again soon on this list. 2000’s Cast Away worked on a premise that Tom Hanks’ FedEx worker was stranded on a desert island following a crash, left to grow a beard, befriend a volleyball, and wonder if he’d ever get home again.
Those who had watched the trailer for the movie knew full well the answer. For some reason, a scene of him arriving home – so, basically, the end of the movie – was edited into the promo. If you’d seen it, it wouldn’t have outright ruined the movie, but it certainly dampened one of the film’s big questions. Fortunately, it was not a film that hinged on its ending to work.
12. The Sum Of All Fears
I confess: I managed to see Ben Affleck’s underrated Jack Ryan adventure without having seen the trailer first. Good job, too, as the promo gives away a big shocking moment that doesn’t quite take place at the end, but certainly acts as a pivot for the plot. It’s a genuine shocking moment, one that you’d think was worth keeping under wraps in advance.
11. Arlington Road
We’re big fans of Mark Pellington’s under-the-radar thriller Arlington Road here, and we’d strongly advise if you’ve not seen the movie that you ignore both the trailer and the next paragraph or two of text. Like most thrillers of its ilk, the less you know, the better.
Ambiguity, after all, is at the heart of Arlington Road, and the thrust of the movie sees Jeff Bridges trying to work out if his neighbor, played by Tim Robbins, is actually a terrorist.
Appreciating that Arlington Road isn’t and wasn’t a major blockbuster, it was always going to have to punch harder to get noticed. But this trailer is just ridiculous: it may not give you the exact answer to everything, but it gives away so much of the working out, that you’re not left in any doubt. A real pity.
10. How To Train Your Dragon 2
DreamWorks’ animators were reportedly unhappy at the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon 2, and I’m not in the slightest bit surprised. The argument that was put forward was that the trailer was giving away a massive twist, only because there was another one later in the film. But it was the first that was the one that really hit hard, or should have done, had the promo for the impressive sequel not robbed the film of one of its major storytelling beats.
9. Terminator Salvation
There’s something about films that are supposed to kickstart a trilogy of new Terminator films. You’d rightly assume that the series will be making another appearance further down the list, but it was McG’s Terminator Salvation that got the spoiler ball rolling. Amongst the many reveals here: that Sam Worthington’s character was secretly a Terminator, without realizing. Sigh.
8. What Lies Beneath
Robert Zemeckis paid generous homage to Alfred Hitchcock with his impressive, slightly daft 2000 thriller What Lies Beneath. The movie, starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, works on a line of doubt surrounding its key characters, and some core twists. Unfortunately, whoever cut the trailer thought it’d be far more fun if we went in to see the film, knowing major moments from the back end of the movie in advance.
7. The Island
Michael Bay’s sci-fi movie works best if you know little about it. Unfortunately, the trailer had other ideas. Any notion of keeping many of the film’s secrets under wraps was destroyed in just over two minutes, as the trailer for the film plainly rips away the vast bulk of the film’s mystery. A real pity. The Island is a flawed film certainly, but its ideas deserved to be explored properly, without having been given away so far in advance.
6. Terminator Genisys
It still beggars belief that somebody actually signed off on this. From the movie franchise determined to give as much of the game away in advance as possible comes Terminator Genisys. What ranks this one above Salvation is the fact that Genisys had one twist.
One big moment. One chance to reignite the interest of an audience slowly falling asleep in their seat. And it blew that chance in the trailer. The most spoiler-y trailer of 2015, and that’s no mean feat…
The remake of Carrie had a trailer that was quite a spoiler-y beast. But the 1977 original, which works on slowly building up audience knowledge and gradually turning the screw, has a trailer that doesn’t just show you the back end of the film, but is accompanied by a voiceover that’s insistent on revealing just what’s happening.
4 . Free Willy
Sure, sure. Free Willy may not have been top of many of your to-watch lists, and I’ve never yet seen it top a poll of the best Michael Madsen movies. But the question of the movie is can they free Willy the whale? The answer to this is clearly yes. Because the trailer says so. Heck, even the title says so…
3. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
This one tends to be given a pass these days, because it’s a given now that Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the good guy. But even in the pre-internet days, how many people went in to see Terminator 2: Judgement Day not knowing that Arnie was a good Terminator this time around?
Yet consider this: how about if you saw the film, having only watched The Terminator, and didn’t know that in advance? Surely that would class as a major, major spoiler, yet it was freely given away in advance of the movie. 60% of Terminator movies, then, give away big spoilers in their trailer…
Well, it’s the ending here. We can write as much fancy text as you like about the English language remake of the impressive [REC], but you watch this trailer, and you have the very ending of the movie. Fine work.
1. Soylent Green
“What is the secret of Soylent Green?”, asks the trailer lots of times for the classic Charlton Heston sci-fi movie. Lots of times. Before basically telling you.
Proof positive that spoiler-y trailers are not a new phenomenon, the trailer poses the question – one that runs through the very core of the movie – and the decides, staggeringly, to answer it. Literally, the big twist at the end of the movie, the big mystery, is given away in the trailer.
And you thought the Terminator Genisys trailer was bad for spoilers…