VOTD: The History of the Movie Trailer

movie trailer history

FilmmakerIQ has put together a 15 minute video essay profiling the history of movie trailers. When did movie trailers come about? Why are they called movie trailers? How has the format of movie trailers evolved over the years? How did Jaws and the blockbuster film release strategy change the way movies are advertised? Find out now by watching the movie trailer history video lesson embedded after the jump.

Here is what wikipedia says about the origins of movie trailers:

The first trailer shown in a U.S. film theater was in November 1913, when Nils Granlund, the advertising manager for the Marcus Loew theater chain, produced a short promotional film for the musical The Pleasure Seekers, opening at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. Loew adopted the practice, which was reported in a wire service story carried by the Lincoln, Nebraska Daily Star, describing it as “an entirely new and unique stunt”, and that “moving pictures of the rehearsals and other incidents connected with the production will be sent out in advance of the show, to be presented to the Loew’s picture houses and will take the place of much of the bill board advertising”. Granlund was also first to introduce trailer material for an upcoming motion picture, using a slide technique to promote an upcoming film featuring Charlie Chaplin at Loew’s Seventh Avenue Theatre in Harlem in 1914. Up until the late 1950s, trailers were mostly created by National Screen Service and consisted of various key scenes from the film being advertised, often augmented with large, descriptive text describing the story, and an underscore generally pulled from studio music libraries. Most trailers had some form of narration and those that did featured stentorian voices. In the early 1960s, the face of motion picture trailers changed. Textless, montage trailers and quick-editing became popular, largely due to the arrival of the “new Hollywood” and techniques that were becoming increasingly popular in television.

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