Trailer Trash: Ghostbusters Undoing Began with Bad Preview

Posted: July 19, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

“It’s blame the bros” time once again. Misogyny led the Ghostbusters reboot to sputter, don’t you know. Much as the intensity of Bernie Sanders supporters was explained by some in the media as a matter of frat boys (and the girls who chase them, according to Gloria Steinem) gone wild, the all female Gang of Four who are out to bust some heads, in a spiritual sense, never had a chance to succeed. Dudes did them in.

It makes for a great story because you not only get to report on it, you also can opine on it as you go – without the burden of proving your premise. The facts that our intrepid reporters, bloggers and commenters seized on were (1) the film’s initial trailer posted one of the highest negative ratings ever received on YouTube; and (2) many of the comments were virulently critical regarding the casting. Here’s a thought – let’s take a look at that trailer…

Survey says, “Wow, gender aside, this sucks.” Let’s start with the basics. If you’re in the movie business, and you didn’t know that you would be treading on sacred fanboy ground with any Ghostbusters film that was not a direct continuation of the series with as many living cast members involved as possible, then you shouldn’t be in the film business. Contrary to what is shown in the trailer, there was no prior Ghostbusters team in the universe of the new film. Why imply otherwise?

If you want and need audience acceptance of the new team as a continuation in comic spirit of the original, why not validate the new approach by showing the participation of Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Ackroyd, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson? Granted that the cameos are a delight when they are a complete surprise, but, maybe, show at least a portion of one to tease at the others to appease the critics.

And once you’ve done that, how about showcasing the actual funny parts of the movie, because what you have here is lame. Compare it with the trailer from the original.

Bottom line: even as dated as the approach is, it’s a better advertisement for the film. The lesson here is that trailers still matter. Thirty years ago, you saw the trailer once, maybe twice before the film’s release. Contemporary conventional wisdom is that since everyone has access to multiple viewings of the trailers, make the unveiling an event and then bludgeon the would-be audience members into submission by repeated showings. What you show is not as important as how and how often you show it. The very strong suggestion from this corner is that such a notion produces bad trailers which directly contribute to bad word-of-mouth which then translates into a disappointing opening weekend.

Yes, there is misogyny in the world, and, yes, internet comment sections provide a public bulletin board for abhorrent views, and, yes, some knuckleheads would avoid seeing the new film no matter what simply because of the female leads, but you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Sill not buying it? How about this…

Versus this…

The trailer for the original Independence Day is classic. The best you can say for the 2016 edition is that the filmmakers deliver what is promised in the preview: noisy, vacuous, semi-sanctimonious, pandering crap. And lest you feel that this is some misguided wail for a return to simpler times as reflected in trailers from movies of the 1980’s and 90’s, let’s end with one of the best trailers from this, or any other, year:

The trailer for Captain America: Civil War is arguably better than the film itself. It is brilliantly edited and scored. It conveys the essence of the movie while minimizing spoilers. It leaves the viewer counting down the days until the film’s release.

That wasn’t the case for the Ghostbusters trailer. Never blame the audience for a film’s failure.

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