Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the Trailer Problem

Spoilers, as we talk about just how much the trailers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have been giving away...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

When the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was released back in December 2017, concerns were immediately raised that an awful lot had been given away. Certainly, there seemed a lot in it, but of course without actually watching the film, it’s tricky to know just how much you’re getting in advance.

Here’s the original trailer if you want a refresher:

In the aftermath of its release, and the subsequent concerns raised about spoilers, the film’s executive producer and co-writer, Colin Trevorrow, took to Twitter to assure people that what you were getting was footage from the first half of the film. Here’s the Tweet…

Watching the trailer now, having seen the finished movie, he’s on the money there. The promo gives away a lot less than was originally feared. The film, of course, pivots around the half way point, and goes in another direction. Trevorrow, who criticised a spoiler-y trailer for 2015’s Jurassic World (he directed that movie too), was clearly rightly sensitive to the same problem repeating itself.

And yet movie marketing departments have a habit of finding a way.

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The common approach now for a blockbuster movie is to have a teaser trailer, a full trailer, and a final trailer. On top of that, a garnish of assorted clips, trailers for trailers, and international variants of said trailers. I think we all pretty much know the drill there.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom very much followed the template. Thus, at the start of February, we got this. A trailer that opened with footage definitely from the second half of the movie…

I don’t know about you, but it felt all bets were very much off come that second trailer. Because not only are key moments from the second part of the film shown in the second promo, there’s a surprising amount of the movie given away. Before we natter about that, let’s skip too to the ‘final’ trailer for the film, that was released in April. Because it seems with this one, anything goes.

“It was all a lie”, screams Bryce Dallas Howard’s Clare. We hear you, Claire.

The thus-far-kept-under-wraps reveal of a brand new dinosaur is given away in the trailer. Virtually no material from the first half of the movie is included in this one. Instead, what you get are large chunks from the second half of the film. You get plot reveals. Not all of them, but enough. You get some of the film’s creepier sequences. In fact, I can only think of one thing of narrative note, having watched all the trailers now along with the film, that isn’t given away in the trailers.

The promotional campaign that started so cautiously to the point where we’re told that only the first 57 minutes was being exposed , seemed to become a free-for-all come the last few weeks.

And I’ve not touched yet on the worst bit: You get the very ending of the movie. The end of the film is in the movie trailer. Surely, surely, there’s a list of things you don’t do when cutting a trailer, that this is at the top of? Granted the context is very, very slightly changed. But still: more than any film I can remember in the last year or two, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has gone from caution in its promotion to using spoilers as ample collateral damage in the rush to get bums in seats.

It’s the fact that Jurassic World did this before that makes it so puzzling. That the filmmaker concerned had objected to it and acknowledged the problem. In a recent chat I had with Alexander Payne, whose latest film–Downsizing–had a trailer that fairly notably misrepresented the film, he said that studios are very much struggling to package movies for broad consumption. “It’s like these studios hoist themselves on their own petard. ‘You make the film, but we’re the ones who know how to put asses in seats,’” he told me. “They have trailer companies. That’s another difficulty of the American model. Starbucks or McDonald’s? They have to sell a product that is easily digested and predictable”.

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When it came to cutting the trailers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I wonder if the muted response to the fairly spoiler-light teaser led to a course correction. Because the initial reaction to the first trailer wasn’t great. Perhaps then someone stuck their hand up, noted the last film had taken over $2 billion at the box office, and suggested they just followed what they did with that one.

Selling product trumps protecting spoilers when expectations for a movie are measured in billions. As such, if it needs the ending of the film given away, that’s worth a few extra quid, isn’t it? Unfortunately, as the stakes grow higher and higher with big movies, it’s a trend that’s–as recent evidence shows–very much here to stay for the time being. But can someone, somewhere, at least mark the last third of a film as off-limits? A forlorn hope, but a hope nonetheless.