Movie trailers have become an art form and source of entertainment unto themselves (Exhibit A: 2013’s Golden Trailer Awards). But they still have a job to do: Sell the movie, get butts in seats on opening weekend.
The most effective way to do that with a trailer is debatable, especially when it comes to how much of a movie’s plot a preview should reveal. Do revealing trailers encourage audiences to see the full film, or do they make viewers feel like they’ve already seen the whole movie, deterring them from buying a ticket?
According to the survey, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) believe that movie trailers these days give away too many of a movie’s best scenes, while 32 percent disagree.
About a third of Americans (32 percent) believe trailers give away too much plot, while nearly half (48 percent) disagree.
It’s worth noting that opinions on this subject varied among age groups. In the studios’ typically most desirable demographic, 18- to 34-year-olds, 43 percent say trailers give away too much of a movie’s plot, while that number decreased to 22 percent among those above age 50. Perhaps those younger viewers who tend to watch more trailers online (and watch them repeatedly) see more than their fair share of spoilery previews.
As for how these revealing trailers affect their decision to see a film, 19 percent said movie trailers that revealed a lot of plot have deterred them from seeing a film, while 24 percent said that encouraged them to see it, and 35 percent said trailers like that make no impact on their decision to see a movie — stats that don’t seem like they’ll sway studios one way or the other on how plot-revealing to make their trailers. (The other 23 percent accounts for those who responded “not sure” to that question. It’s also worth noting that 20 percent of the survey-takers said they don’t go to the movies, shocking as that may sound to you EW readers.)
Ray Martin, YouGov senior vice president of YouGov, told EW that the survey “could be quite useful [to studios] because it’s good for them to know their target audience and plan accordingly.”
As an example, Martin pointed out that survey takers who are older and who have higher education degrees were more likely to list musicals as one of their favorite genres, and they also were more likely to say revealing trailers deterred them from seeing a film. So marketing teams may find it useful to keep trailers for movie musicals on the spoiler-lite side (that said, can you really spoil a musical?).
YouGov Omnibus asked questions of a sample of 1,000 Americans for the survey from April 26 to 28, 2013. Here are some more key stats:
• 48 percent said movie trailers help them decide which movie to see.
• 46 percent said personal recommendations help them decide which movie to see.
• 23 percent said reviews read online help them decide which movie to see.
• 39 percent said whether a film is a sequel of another movie they enjoyed helps them decide which movie to see.
• 77 percent said the plot/storyline is among a movie’s most important elements
• 45 percent said the cast is among a movie’s most important elements
• 20 percent said the director is among a movie’s most important elements
• 22 percent said the genre is among a movie’s most important elements
• 14 percent said the book/play it’s based on is among a movie’s most important elements
• 36 percent of males and 53 percent of females said the cast is among a movie’s most important elements
• 10 percent of males and 18 percent of females said the book/play it’s based on is among a movie’s most important elements (for all other “important elements” there was little to no difference in opinion between males and females)
• 22 percent of males and 51 percent of females said romantic comedy is among their favorite movie genres
• 55 percent of males and 37 percent of females said science fiction/fantasy is among their favorite genres
• 72 percent of males and 57 percent of females said action/adventure is among their favorite genres
• 11 percent of males and 24 percent of females said musical is among their favorite genres
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