Jack Reacher Tom Cruise

Ostensibly, trailers are supposed to tell audiences what a movie is about. In practice, though, some are more successful at that task than others. Trailers can be too revealing or not revealing enough, and in some cases can even be downright misleading.

What counts as “misleading,” though, is fairly subjective. A New Zealand man identified only as J. Congdon has filed a complaint with the country’s Advertising Standards Authority over the inclusion of a split-second explosion in the Jack Reacher trailer that didn’t make it into the final cut. If that counts as unacceptable, Judd Apatow must be this guy’s worst nightmare. Hit the jump to keep reading.

I’m not sure which cut of the trailer Congdon saw, and I haven’t seen the movie myself. But the shot in contention seems to be the one at around 1:45 in the trailer below.

In any case, Congdon was none too pleased when the theatrical cut failed to include the scene he’d liked from the trailer. “The explosion where the whole cliff comes down [was] the defining part of the ad that made me really want to go see the movie… aside from having Tom Cruise in it,” he wrote in his complaint to the ASA.

Paramount admitted the omission of that particular scene (and others), but defended itself by pointing out that it is a “usual and longstanding practice in the film industry” to produce trailers well before the final edit of a movie is submitted. ”Thus, despite our best intentions, it is always possible that certain scenes appearing in an advertisement or trailer may not appear in the final version of a film,” Paramount told the ASA.

Even so, Paramount offered to refund the cost of the ticket to Congdon. Most likely, they figured it was easier to simply pay him back than to waste more time arguing over it. After all, disgruntled moviegoers have been known to sue over trailers they consider inaccurate.

It’s definitely annoying when a cool scene from a trailer turns out not to be in the movie, but it hardly seems like reason to file a formal complaint. Had the Jack Reacher promos sold a movie centered on an exploding cliff, Congdon’s complaint might make some sense. But as Paramount points out, the scene was just “a single split-second element omitted from a 130-minute long action film.” The idea that a man deserves his money back because he got fixated on a minor point in the trailer seems absurd.

For its part, New Zealand’s Commercial Approvals Bureau, which approved the trailer for TV airing to begin with, stood behind its original decision. The organization argued against Congdon’s complaint, insisting that the Jack Reacher commercial posed “no threat of confusion to the large majority of TV viewers.” Between the studio’s decision to refund Congdon and the fact that the ad is no longer airing in New Zealand, the ASA deemed the matter settled.

[Sources: New Zealand Herald, The Telegraph]

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