The Best Teaser Trailers of All Time

Gravity

21. Gravity

The teaser trailer to Gravity is a visual rollercoaster ride, watching it again brings back the anxiety I had experiencing the film. Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about the teaser is the clip shown at the very end of the lone astronaught flipping into the darkness of outter space. I saw this trailer many times in theaters before various films and for some reason that closing moment always drew laughs from some in the audience.

I do actually prefer the second trailer which was titled “Detached.” This was almost a one and a half minute shot from the film’s dramatic and thrilling inciting incident. It is technically a trailer, as it’s not the first released trailer for the film, but it could very well be a teaser. Also worth noting that this trailer below won trailer of the year at the Golden Trailer Awards in 2014.

20. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

This teaser trailer is great due to the music choice alone, a Trent Reznor and Karen O cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” set to a rapid-fire montage of clips from David Fincher’s adaptation. This red band teaser trailer was also brilliantly released virally online as a bootleg, taped off a screen in a movie theater, projecting the film’s anti-establishment attitude.

19. Explorers

The teaser trailer to The Explorers is a brilliant tracking shot into the backyard of a 1980’s suburbian home. What are they doing in there? What are the building? This is the pure definition of “tease”. I also love the tagline: “The adventure begins in your own backyard.”

18. Godzilla (2014)

This is another teaser that had the power of surprise — Legendary Pictures surprised fans with this teaser trailer, a visual effects test conducted by director Gareth Edwards before he even started work on the film. The imagery in the teaser is just perfect, especially with the Oppenheimer quote which harkens back to the original movie.

17. Tron Legacy

This teaser trailer or test footage for Tron: Legacy premiered as a surprise at the end of an unassuming Disney panel at Comic Con. Not only was the sequel not yet in production, but it had not been publicly announced. The combination of surprise and updated visuals was enough to drive fans nuts.

I’ll also include the first real trailer for the film, which was also pretty damn great.

16. Up In The Air

Jason Reitman is another auteur filmmaker who regularly cuts the first teaser trailer for his films. His teaser trailer for Up in The Air features scenes from the film narrated by George Clooney’s great backpack speech from the film. Its another trailer that captures the tone and feeling of the film better than any of the other marketing materials. When I did an informal poll on twitter, many readers suggested this trailer over big blockbuster films.

15. The Incredibles

One of the things I use to love about Pixar movies was that not only would you get a computer animated short with the feature, but they used to include an announcement teaser trailer for their next film. The Incredibles teaser was attached to the May 2003 film Finding Nemo, a full 18 months before the film’s release. This practice stopped around the time the company was acquired by Disney. The Incredibles teaser is great because it introduces us to the world and teases Mr. Incredible, but doesn’t give us much more than that. It almost felt like a micro short film rather than a teaser trailer.

14. Godzilla (1998)

Say what you will about Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, but the marketing was actually pretty awesome. I remember the billboard ads on the side of buildings that read “This is the size of Godzilla’s leg”. And this teaser trailer, which was attached to 1997’s Men in Black, features not a frame of footage from the film. Instead we see a scene in a museum, which was specially shot for the teaser trailer. This is the second trailer from director Roland Emmerich to make the list.

13. Inception 

This one minute teaser trailer is almost all visual, a highly exciting and visceral montage of mind-bending clips. The teaser is also notable for starting the trend of tentpole movie trailers using a large blaring “BRRRRRRRAAAAAWWWWRWRRRMRMRMMRMRMMMMM” sound effect.

12. Watchmen

Zack Snyder premiered a three minute teaser trailer for Watchmen at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con International, which wowed fans old and new. The teaser is a montage of highly visual moments from the film. Even Snyder’s biggest critics can admit that he knows how to shoot and edit a creative music video. (The Watchmen and Sucker Punch openings are a prime example.)

The wider-released teaser trailer is also great, a bit shorter and cut to Smashing Pumpkins’ “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning”.

11. The Shining 

Only Stanley Kubrick could get a movie studio to release a teaser trailer like this. The teaser is bold, bloody and brilliant.

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