Have wanted to weigh in on this for a long time now.
There is a consideration missing from the trailer conversation.
It’s called The Audience.
I know, every new group that comes along wants to make their mark on the cultural landscape and define their time distinct from all others. Aside from whatever financial considerations there are to using or not using a narrator for theatrical trailers, there is the idea that not using a voice “lets the film speak for itself.”
Yeah, no. That’s not a trailer. That’s a cut-down version of the film that does not immediately grab our attention from looking for seats, texting, asking what everyone wants to eat, catching up on gossip.
A trailer is a series of strategically orchestrated scenes narrated by a skilled storyteller who tells us how to feel about what we are seeing. It’s a time-honored contract that is being broken and depriving us of a treasured aspect of going to “the movies.” It’s also giving the audience permission not to pay attention to what’s on the screen because it’s not cashing in on the subconscious need we have to be instantly transported from our own lives and dropped in to “a world” other than our own.
No matter when producers, editors and filmmakers showed up on the planet, they still grew up going to theaters, buying popcorn, sodas, candy, etc. and settling down to watch trailers before the Main Attraction came on the screen. In that darkened enclave, a voice came on, enveloping them and the rest of the audience in the world of the Coming Attractions.
Without The Voice, we are not hypnotically pulled to the screen with the almost pavlovian response to pay attention that was ingrained into our psyches since childhood.
When the odd and random, disembodied voice does suddenly shows up on a few lines here and there or suddenly drops in at the end to announce the title, it startles us and not in a good way. The rule in writing is called ‘playing fair with the audience.” If you are going to introduce an element, it should be there from the beginning and be a part of the story or it attracts attention to itself and is frankly, just plain bad writing. The reaction is “ Who’s that and where’d they come from?” It often gets a laugh and again, not in a good way.
So please, restore our movie-going experience as we knew and loved it and in the process, cash in on the equity trailers have built up over the years to pull us in, settle us down and help us not only get ready for the Main Event but make a mental note to make sure we see all those others, as well.
Play fair with us and we might just come back more than we have been lately!