Movie Trailers

The Art of Spoiling a Movie in The Trailer

May 25, 20245 Mins Read

Like most, I was absolutely blown away by Furiosa: The Mad Max Saga this weekend. Chris Bumbray perfectly sums up why the film is a great entry into the Mad Max franchise HERE. It may have been the trailer playing before the most number of movies in 2024. It was everywhere. Yet it’s hard to watch the film and come away feeling like I saw something completely brand new when the marketing already spoiled so much of it.

*spoilers for Furiosa going forward. Read at your own risk*

I need to get it out of the way right off the bat that I loved Furiosa. It’s a brilliant epic that features Chris Hemsworth’s best performance to date and proves why Anya Taylor Joy is believable in any role. The brilliance of Furiosa cannot be understated both in its technical achievements and in its narrative. And my criticisms are firmly on the film’s marketing versus anything in the film itself. Because as I left the theater, I couldn’t help but think: did the trailer spoil the movie?

The method in which Furiosa is kidnapped, her brashness being the cause and her repeated escapes are all highlighted. Given that this takes up the majority of the first half of the movie, it takes a lot of the stakes out of those moments in the actual movie. She’s always trying to escape. It happens every chance she gets. Show those moments to tease what a firecracker she is. Yet we see the actual captures in the trailer, so we already know that she not only doesn’t get away, but she gets caught fairly quickly. So there can be a long drawout escape sequence, but we’re already privy to the end. I’m fine with showing the setup, but maybe don’t show the punchline.

However, I’d argue that the biggest issue is that Anya Taylor Joy doesn’t appear until an hour into the film. It is insane for me to even type that given how prominent she is in all the marketing materials. And I’m honestly not sure of the solution other than to prominently feature Young Furiosa (who gets a whopping 10 seconds of screen time in the first trailer). So they managed to both give too much away, while also lying to the audience about how much its lead actress would be in it.

And that’s not to say that Alyla Browne does a bad job. The exact opposite in fact but in this day and age where studios are struggling to get patrons in theater seats, pulling this level of switcheroo feels disingenuous. Now I understand that you often have to spoil things that happen in a movie in order to sell it. And Anya is clearly a very marketable actress with a large fanbase. But it’s never good when you’re leaving the theater and people are proclaiming “The one girl didn’t show up for ages.” (an actual quote leaving the theater.)

Furiosa isn’t the only film released this month with this problem, as Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes did the same thing: prominently featuring Proximus Caesar only for him to not appear until over an hour into the film. And given Kevin Durand did so much of the promotion, it gives a certain expectation. But I’d argue that the film is still able to hide its narrative in the trailer and provide a rather fresh experience. Proximus is not the lead, therefore it doesn’t feel like a big deal. Villains often have less screen time, especially in the first act. And given that was probably the second most-played trailer this year at the movies, it would have been easy to make the same mistakes.

And yes, Furiosa is a prequel so in that sense, you’re always going to know what is coming. In that regard, so long as every character is in their place for the beginning of Fury Road, anything can happen. But did we need Dr. Dementus saying “The question is: do you have it in you to make it epic?”, clearly indicating his own death? Or so much of the trailer making it look like the same road film that Fury Road was? It really runs the risk of alienating an audience versus just providing a hint at the great epic to come.

Conversely, the horror world has an absolutely phenomenal marketing team working on Longlegs. There have been countless trailers and even still the narrative is hazy. It’s managed to build so much hype while still keeping the mystery alive. That’s an extremely tough task and something I feel that other marketing teams should be studying. Because we as audience members should be given just enough information to decide whether or not we want to watch it. We don’t need the entire film laid out for us. Okay. I’ll go back to yelling at clouds now.

What did YOU think of Furiosa? Did the trailer spoil too much? Why do studios insist on giving so much away in their trailers?

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