Movie fans may have noticed a strange thing happening when they click on that hotly anticipated two-minute trailer for a big release, it begins with a three second ad… for the movie itself. If it is something you’ve noticed, it turns out there’s a reason why studios are including teasers for the trailer you are about to watch. Take for instance the first trailer for the new Tom Hanks movie Inferno. Inferno stars Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones and is called “Inferno”, all of which is information that can be gleaned from the three second pre-trailer for the movie’s trailer.
If you’ve seen it, you know that micro-trailer was a sped-up version of the full trailer, with shots of Hanks and Jones followed by the Inferno title card. The full 90-second trailer, which actually offers plot details about the film, comes on afterwards — but maybe like so many others, maybe you didn’t make it that far. Undoubtedly, though, the micro trailer has left many wondering why they are suddenly so prevalent and what purpose they actually serve.
Thankfully, producer Grey Munford, who produced the upcoming Jeff Bridges film, Hell or High Water, which used the micro pre trailer tactic, has an answer. He even took to Twitter to explain what’s going on:
As there seems to be some confusion...the 3-5 second teaser before the trailer thing is about mobile (read: Facebook, etc...) optimization.— Grey Munford (@greymunford) May 13, 2016
Even though Munford said that the purpose of the teaser was about “mobile optimization” there may be more to it and the other reason may be more depressing. The Observer reported that Munford also said trailers are including these pre-trailers because today’s consumers are typically encountering the ads while moving through their social media feeds, and are unlikely to pause for longer than a few seconds to watch a film trailer. Though Munford also said he didn’t like the practice, he did claim that their data supports doing it, so it is likely to keep happening.
So, how necessary is this very condensed pre-trailer? For one thing, if this is really meant for social media, which often includes an autoplay feature — a feature which does not take into account how engaged a viewer is since they are not in control of starting it — you may not have been paying attention at all and completely missed the pre-trailer. Still, for those who do stop to see the moving picture, the micro-trailer probably does get the job done. It puts all of the relevant information — like major actors involved and the title — in your face very quickly and might even entice some fast-paced viewers to stay for the whole trailer.
It’s also interesting that studios are trying this out when separate pre-teasers themselves are already fairly popular. Movies have been known to build up to their release of lengthy minutes-long trailers with shorter teaser trailers released hours or days before. For example, there were these featurettes released for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse film way prior to the final trailer release. Of course, those are going to be watched by fans who are eagerly anticipating a big movie, but they may not do as well at enticing new audiences to get pumped for a film. And that does give some support to the “data” Munford refers to — that these pre-trailers are good for grabbing eyeballs that they would not have gotten, for whatever reason, before.
Inferno will open in U.S. theaters on October 28, 2016; it will arrive two weeks earlier in the U.K., on October 14.