Green Band Trailer

One of the most exciting things in the movie news world is when a new trailer arrives for one of our most anticipated movies. Last week we were treated to teaser trailers for both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Logan, the third and final Wolverine sequel featuring Hugh Jackman. But have you ever wondered why these clips used to market upcoming movies are called trailers?

A new video essay from the YouTube channel Today I Found Out explains the origins of movie trailers, including not only where they came from, but why they’re called trailers to begin with. Learn about the origin of movie trailers after the jump.

To make a not so long story even shorter, advertisements for future movies used to appear at the end of movies rather than the beginning. Therefore, they literally trailed the movie that you just watched, and so they became known as trailers.

What’s funny is that when I was growing up, I always referred to them as previews, and so did everyone else I knew. It didn’t seem like people started calling them trailers until movie news became prominent on the internet and the term was thrown around a lot more often.

In fact, I distinctly remember in 1999 when the first trailer for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was put online (which was a big deal at the time), and my Dad brought me to our computer to show me “a Star Wars trailer.” He showed me the teaser trailer for Episode I, which I was thoroughly excited about, so much that we watched it again. But then after that, I remember saying, “Wait, I thought you were showing me a Star Wars trailer?” I was thinking he was going to show me a trailer, like one that a truck pulls, that had somehow been decorated like something from Star Wars. But from then on, I used the word trailer to describe movie previews.

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