Why Do All Movies Trailers Feel The Same? Because They Are

Learn the eleven tropes and tricks you meet in movie trailer heaven.

Why Do All Movies Trailers Feel The Same? Because They Are

WHAT: A video that breaks down, over the course of five minutes, the eleven most common tropes in movie trailers for films of all genres.

WHO: Cracked.com, in a video featuring the trailers for everything from Deadpool to Boyhood to The Imitation Game.

WHY WE CARE: The “why every X is the same” genus of web video is so common that you could make a “why every ‘why every X is the same’ web video is the same” and get downright meta with things. But Cracked’s breakdown of the tropes of you find in movie trailers goes beyond just showcasing that, yep, all blockbusters feature trailers that are full of explosions, handsome actors and beautiful actresses being dramatic, and tension-breaking jokes–rather, they look at the commonalities between a huge number of films, from indie dramedies to foreign weepies to tragic-but-inspirational biopics and more. The lessons within are worth noting: the “drop a throwback song into your action movie trailer to let audiences know it’s quirky” thing tends to work well–witness Suicide Squad, Star Trek: Beyond, and Deadpool–even though the trope only originated with Guardians of the Galaxy two years ago. The message you communicate about your movie by adding a slowed-down cover of a pop hit is that things are going to be way more intense than your normal movie about a disastrous earthquake across all of California and/or a creepy S&M relationship. Bringing in the strings in a biopic signals that there’s going to be a tragic turning point midway through. Etc, etc–all of these are subtle cues that we pick up from the music or the visuals, but which we’ve been conditioned to interpret through watching dozens, if not hundreds, of movie trailers every year in a way that tells us if a movie we’re seeing advertised is the sort of thing we usually like. We can bemoan the lack of artistry in trailers, or the fact that they run too long, give away too much of the plot, don’t accurately characterize the film they’re promoting, etc–but maybe the real point of these trailers is just to use the images and music cues to help us sort the movie into the category of “things we usually like” and “things we don’t.”

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.