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An Epic History of the Movie Trailer

As far back as 120 years ago, filmed advertisements entered movie theaters -because theaters needed all the film they could get. In the early 20th century, “trailers” were tagged into the ends of serials to promote what would happen in next week’s episode. And the movie trailer was born. Over the next 100 years, trailers would become more formulaic, then more experimental, and formulaic again in cycles. They tried not to give too much away.   

However, the closer Hollywood gets to the age of the blockbuster, the more the modern trailer starts to reveal itself, and it all starts with Jaws -- the film phenomenon of the summer of 1975. Adjusted for inflation, the movie has the seventh largest box office gross in movie history, so it seems fitting that so many would pull influence from its trailer. It introduced something new to trailers: relying almost entirely on the narrative of the film to advertise it. In 3 minutes and 21 seconds, the entire story arc of the film, save for the ending, is given away. There’s a shark terrorizing the beach on the 4th of July, it’s up to a local sheriff to take care of it, and he teams with a scientist and a fisherman to get the job done.

The history of the movie trailer at Hopes and Fears contains plenty of examples from the history of cinema, with links to many more. -via Digg


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