One of the major factors that make or break a movie today is its trailer. The two-three minute cut has now become a film’s primary marketing tool, which, in many ways dictates the box office performance of a film. Given that cutting a trailer is a reasonably new phenomenon, its importance today is worth noting.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, very few Tamil films used trailers. But it changed in the 1990s with films using a trailer cut as a marketing tool for theatres alone. With the advent of satellite television, trailers soon took up prime slots between TV shows and movies. At that point, the film’s editor was in charge of cutting the trailer and the idea was to show bits of all the elements the film had to offer. This would ideally include songs, fight sequences and comedy scenes to cater to all audiences.
But things have changed since then. Today, there are specialist editors and companies that focus on trailers alone. Such specialists, in most cases have nothing to do with the overall edit of the film. Their expertise is being valued to a great extent because of a trailer’s importance on social media. How many hits a trailer receives on YouTube has become a major yardstick to evaluate a film’s pre-release buzz. In fact, they have become so important that trailer reviews and analyses have themselves become full-fledged programmes among websites and television channels.
Promos have spurned their own industry with advertisers, brands and smaller films piggy backing on the popularity of a major film’s trailer. A trailer launch has become a red carpet event which gets wide coverage in the media.
But it can also backfire if the trailer does not evoke the desired response from viewers. It then leads to online trolling and a lot of negative buzz being associated with the film, its actors and makers.
G Balaji, colourist and digital cinema designer says, “A trailer is the first visual key an audience gets to create an impression about a film. It is a double-edged sword, which at times may backfire. Tamil cinema now needs to create a special promotional team that is not part of the main film, to make trailers attractive and catchy, just like how they do in Hollywood and Bollywood.”
Recently, the trailer of Vikram’s Hari-directed mass-masala action entertainer Saamy 2, aka Saamy Square, received negative reviews. The fans called it an upgraded version of director Hari’s earlier S3. However, the trailer, due to the controversy surrounding it, has now crossed a phenomenal 10 million views. And the producers and distributors of the film, which has been sold out in all areas, feel that the trailer reached its target audiences and are sure it will turn out to be a hit.
Meanwhile, the film’s hero Vikram did some damage control and saw to it that his long-in-the-making Gautham Menon-directed Dhruva Natchathiram came out with an official teaser. Both the films fall under the action genre, but the Dhruva Natchathiram teaser looked better, more stunning and is cut slickly by editor Praveen Antony. Another trailer which has made a terrific impact is that of CS Amudhan-directed Thamizh Padam 2.
An ad for the film
One of Kollywood’s most popular film editors and trailer specialist editor Ruben says, “For a new film, almost everything depends on the perception created by its trailer. The job of a successful promo editor is to lure the audiences who watch it on their laptop or smartphones. If the trailer creates an impression in the minds of today’s audiences, the film is bound to take a good opening based purely on the curiosity it ignites.”
Ruben, whose trailer cuts have been talked about in films such as Raja Rani, Theri, Vedalam, Vivegam, Mersal and recently Irumbu Thirai, adds, “The potential audience has to get the feel of the film in the trailer in two minutes or a maximum of 150 seconds and I have to make sure that they go to the theatre to watch it. I personally feel 70% of the success of a film depends on the trailer.”