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Dissecting Trailers: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

The Hollywood marketing machine has always been crafty, but lately it’s gotten downright nefarious. It’s now become the norm to cut the trailer in a way that drastically misrepresents the movie in question, and we dumb audience members are all for getting fooled, as long as we don’t find out about it. Remember that guy who sued the producers of Drive because the trailer didn’t accurately depict what the movie was? Or how about Hugo? The trailer, apparently designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, left out any reference to cinema, the most important feature of the story. As a result, nobody went to see it. And I don’t even have to tell you about the marketing debacle that was John Carter Not of Mars.

At any rate, the point is to make people go see the movie, and all they care about is that people go see it, not that they enjoy it. Take the new rom-com-dram, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. From the above trailer, and the title, it’s pretty evident what kind of movie it is; a bunch of name actresses playing expectant mothers in a bunch of different circumstances. And hey, there’s even some funny guys being a group of cool yet inept fathers, cuz men are stupid and don’t know how to raise children, get it? Bless. We get the impression that Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Lopez, and Cameron Diaz will be the main focus, with Anna Kendrick and Brooklyn Decker having side stories. I’m not gonna go see it, but it is what it is.

But wait! There’s a second trailer for the same movie that’s just come out. Watch trailer number two and see if you can tell how their marketing scheme has subtly changed.

Pretty different, right? Using a lot of the same clips as the first trailer, they’ve totally changed the focus. From the beginning, there’s different music that isn’t Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a bit more “rocky,” and the quick clips they show of the various women all contain their respective men. Then the voice-over says, “Having a baby can be a real mother, but what can you expect when you’re going to be a father?” What? That’s not what the movie was about before. We then get to the “Dudes” group much earlier than before, at about the 30-second mark, and stay with them for the duration. In this version, it looks as though the Dudes Group is going to be the entire focus of the movie. It makes it look like Rodrigo Santoro, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon, and Rob Huebel are the main characters, and then shows just clips of all the other famous people in the movie just so we know they’re in it. There’s also liberal use of an Aerosmith song near the end to make sure people know it’s a movie that rocks. It basically doesn’t look like the same movie, does it?

The thinking behind this was probably the following: “The focus groups showed that men had almost no interest in seeing our movie, but they did respond to the bits with the funny guys. The Hangover was a very popular movie and that had a baby in it; Let’s make this look like the whole movie’s like The Hangover but with dads who just hang out and are bros. The other, much more famous actresses will just be peripheral. They’ll never know the difference.”

Do they think we’re stupid? Do they think we can’t tell when we’re being pandered to? Do they think we’ll just believe whatever horse manure they sling at us? Yes. To all.

-Kanderson does not like being pandered to. Unless it’s the pandering of TWITTER followers

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9 comments

  • In these types of movies, all men are stupid, even the ones that have to hang out together in “dudes groups” (did you notice that the one mom directed the other lady to send her man to the dude group?). I think most guys who end up seeing this movie will be the ones who get dragged there by their girlfriends (at least the ones who want babies) or wives. It’ll be a trade-off – “I’ll see this one, honey, if you see The Avengers with me”

  • I’ve been caught out like this many times. I now won’t see a film till I’ve checked out all its trailers online. If they look like they’re for a different movie, I’m staying away. Check out the trailers for the Lorax; one makes it look like a typical Brad Bird/Pixar flick, and the other like something from Wes Anderson. I’m not risking it….

  • “Do they think we’re stupid? Do they think we can’t tell when we’re being pandered to? Do they think we’ll just believe whatever horse manure they sling at us? Yes. To all.”

    I believe the upcoming movie “based” on the board game Battleship provides all the proof you need that this statement is true.

  • The sad part is there are soooo many creative and smart people in the trailer making industry. They are at the mercy of the studios saying things like “do something new and edgy. just like they did with(insert cool movie campaign here)”. so you want new and edgy or you want a copy of something someone else did??? It’s a clusterf*ck.

  • I will see this movie at some point in my life for one very specific reason: it was filmed in Atlanta. I support the budding Atlanta film industry all the way! Especially because I work in a public arena that often attracts the very celebrities who come to town, and I’ll leave it at that to keep this post semi-anonymous or something.

  • Not to mention the birth and breastfeeding references in the trailer are beyond idiotic. The book is lame, the movie is too. I’m not a guy, but I do occasionally read this blog.

  • You guys are pussies. I saw this and bought it once hit hit stores! Funny movie. Movies are only 2 hours long..give thema try. John Carter was awesoem movie. Never saw 1 trailer. Never saw 1 trailer to The Maitrix and went to see that. AWESOME!!