With the passing of Don LaFontaine, movie preview vocals are a thing of the past

After the Sept. 1 death of Don LaFontaine — the voice-over artist who breathed life into roughly 5,000 movie previews — we got to wondering: Why don’t trailers feature much voice-over work anymore? Velvet tones accompany the trailers for the old Indiana Jones movies (LaFontaine himself did The Last Crusade), but the promos for this year’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull contained no voice-overs at all, just a montage of clips. In fact, LaFontaine-style vocals are hard to find in any trailer now. ”There’s been a sea change within the industry,” says John Long, a partner at L.A.-based Buddha Jones, which produced trailers for Tropic Thunder (minimal voice-overs) and Blindness (none). ”Audiences are more sophisticated, and people now think using graphics or title cards isn’t as ham-fisted and obvious.” Modern voice-overs are often ironic, Long adds, noting Thunder‘s trailer uses them to bring ”an exaggerated heroic quality to the movie’s larger-than-life characters.” As a result, there may never be another Don LaFontaine. ”Don was at a unique moment in time,” says Phil Terrence, voice-over star of NBC’s Heroes and the TV spots for Eagle Eye. ”I don’t think you can replace Don. Any one of us in the business would probably love to, but we’re dreaming.”

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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