The Problem with Previews

The Problem with Previews

For a long time, I assumed that the quality of movies was on the downslide, and in a cynical, crotchety old-lady voice, I’d complain about the lack of substance in modern cinema. I’d shake my tiny fist and say, “Films aren’t what they used to be! Why, back in MY day, we had quality shows! Good, solid epics! Worth the price of admission!”

But I’ve come to recognize that movies aren’t getting worse. On the contrary, movies are pretty much holding steady. After all, the movies “in MY day” consisted of ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’…. hardly epic fare. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that movies are staying the same, and are maybe even a little better than they used to be [case in point: there are fewer musical montages in which characters build some intricate contraption, set to the squealling riffs of electric guitars. A clear sign of cinematic evolution, methinks.] So if the overall quality of movies is holding steady, why am I so often disappointed by them? The problem, IMHO, lies with the people who assemble movie previews.

Movie preview editors have become too darn efficient at their job. With scientific precision, they whip up a small 30-second masterpiece designed to inspire excitement, desire, lust… they’re rendering down the best parts of the film, cutting out the bad parts, and serving it up with a hearty dollop of promotional thrill. [sidenote: it’s kind of like, I’ll be paying money to see the crappy parts they didn’t deem good enough for the preview…. huh…..I think I feel my cynicism returning….] Movies simply can’t live up to the expectations which their advertizements inspire, and perhaps these preview editors are setting up their own movies for eventual failure. After all, if I go into a theatre expecting to see the face of the Divine, and all I get is some mere mortal, I’m bound to be disappointed.

The movies I enjoy the most are those that I know almost nothing about — so if I could make a small appeal to the people who design previews? Please, slack off a bit. Take a couple extra coffee breaks and play more games of solitaire on the job. Make substandard previews that won’t trump the film which their promoting, and (it’s my hope) you’ll leave your audience satisfied.

Oh, and while I have your ear… Please hire a few women for preview voice-overs, or at least provide me with three good reasons why only men seem to give preview monologues.

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