The biggest celebration of film is right around the corner as the 91st Academy Awards are set to take place tomorrow, February 24th. For months, people have been talking about all the different possible outcomes, like who should take home the golden statue for Best Actress and which film will win the biggest award of the night, Best Picture.
But every Oscar campaign starts with a movie trailer. “They are usually the first step in the storytelling of a campaign,” said Alison Temple, CEO of Wild Card, an entertainment-marketing agency founded by the award-winning editor, and her husband, Nick Temple.
Temple is someone who is well versed in the world of film, and to be more specific, movie trailers. She was the Executive Vice President of Theatrical Marketing at 20th Century Fox before joining her husband at Wild Card in 2015. Wild Card specifically has worked on some of the biggest movies and this year’s list alone included VICE, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, BlacKkKlansman, and The Incredibles 2 among others.
Two of the biggest films this award season are Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born. There has been a lot of comparing and contrasting these two films against each other heading into awards season; one film is a remake of a cult classic while the other is a biopic, both films are dramas with music at the center of their stories, and one film has nothing but star power championing it to success while the other stars an actor who is just starting to breakthrough.
With these comparisons in mind, we decided to talk to Temple about the art of movie trailers through the lens of these two films.
The most important part of a movie trailer is figuring out how to engage your audience in roughly two minutes. In Temple’s opinion, it starts with building a world that people want to spend time in.
“We are true believers in world building, creating narrative content that invites the audience to join the journey and learn about the characters of the film and their backstories,” she said. “We want to incentivize the audience to see the film.”
Sometimes, the star power behind a movie can also dictate the direction of a trailer. “Sometimes a filmmaker has a specific vision of how much or little they want exposed in the marketing,” Temple shared. “For some films, like A Star is Born, you can’t get enough of their sizzle-y cast — you just want to see more and more of them.”
But what tends to really sell an audience in a trailer, according to Temple, especially for movies like these, is “the emotional journey they take you on, how [a film] makes you feel.”
“When Bradley Cooper runs his finger down Lady Gaga’s nose in such an intimate way — you wanted to see what their romance was going to look like,” she said. “You felt it. You anticipated it was going to be deep and meaningful. Plus their choice of ‘Shallow’ being their film’s anthem created an auditory cue — you knew what you were supposed to feel. And the pay off was tremendous when you heard the song in the film.”
“For Bohemian Rhapsody, using the most iconic Queen songs not only reminded you of just how many there were but were woven together to create the canvas on which to tell Freddie Mercury’s story,” she said. “No one was going to mistake this for “just a concert film.” This film was Freddie’s story, his journey with the band and you were going to enjoy the ride.”
Music is one aspect of a movie trailer where trends come and go. For example, Temple said that for a while there was an “onslaught of moody female cover songs” used in trailers.
But with that being said, she said that with both Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born, since the music was an actual part of the film’s narrative, she would not classify either trailer’s use of music as “trendy.”
When a trailer is done well, the impact can be huge. But the number of YouTube views doesn’t equate a successful trailer.
“Audiences are savvy and are very specific when they review the trailer. So you may have a lot of views, but if the social chatter is negative — it is not good.”
Temple said in her expert opinion the trailers for these specific movies were “exceptional” and garnered a lot of positive social and press buzz.
So if movie trailers play such an important role in building the brand for a film, as highlighted with the trailers for A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody, should they be recognized with a coveted golden statue from the Academy? Temple doesn’t believe so.
“Oscars are for the folks who make the films. So we don’t believe that is our lane,” she says. “If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have anything to make trailers for.”
However, this art form does not go un-recognized. The Golden Trailer Awards, which was created specifically for movie trailers, and the Clios, which celebrates creative excellence in advertising, recognize the work that goes into creating this important part of the film industry.
Tune in Sunday at 8/7c to the 91st Academy Awards to find out what awards these two films will take home. You can also find out who won the Golden Trailers on May 29th and the Clios on September 25th.