BSA306: The Most Popular Trailers


I was thinking recently about how popular trailers are. They seem to be some of the most watch videos on YouTube (besides pointless funny stuff and epic music videos… Gangnam Style is most definitely included) so it made me wonder what the most watched trailers of all time were and why were they so popular? And did they become popular after release or in the build up to the release of the full feature?

I wasn’t able to find the most watched trailer of all time, full stop, but I was able to find a list of the most watched trailers within 24 hours of initial release. To be honest, I was quite impressed with the numbers. It should also be mentioned that Wikipedia is the only “up to date” list (it is also where I found this information).

This list of trailers ranks the top 20 most watched trailers for film and television series within the first 24 hours of initial release on all viewing platforms. What linked all these trailers was the fact that they were all either part of a franchise, part of a series, a remake, or a book to film adaptation. This meant that they all had preexisting fan bases so, compared to a stand alone film, there were already people anticipating their release.

So, what are these trailers? Let’s look at the top 5:



5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 120.1 million views


4. Beauty and the Beast (2017) – 127.6 million views


3. Thor: Ragnarok (Official Teaser) – 136.0 million views


2. The Fate of the Furious  – 139.0 million views


1. It (2017) – 197.0 million views

BSA306: The Blair Witch Project


The first time I saw The Blair Witch Project I was alone and it was night and yes, it had me on edge. I thought it was cleverly done and you can see how, when the film was first released, people believed it was real. Comparing this, the original, to the latest reboot where everyone knows the story and the tactics the filmmakers used during filming, it’s far more successful in my eyes. I think a lot of that relates to the realism in the performances. In The Blair Witch Project, the actors were sent into the forest, given a few directions on where to go and the base of the story, but they weren’t aware that the film crew would be sneaking up on them and scaring them lifeless in the middle of the night. I think this created really authentic reactions. There are some moments where some silly kinds of things are said that make the viewer think “really? you wouldn’t really think that… you’d do this instead”, but I think those moments make the story feel more real (like the filmmakers wanted) because that’s probably what you’d do in that situation when you’re going slightly crazy. Blair Witch (2016), on the other hand, doesn’t feel as authentic because everyone knows the story, they know it’s not real, and the filmmakers know this. We, the audience, now have the “behind the scenes” knowledge of the first film so we aren’t going in blind and so there’s no use for the filmmakers to attempt what was done with the original and try to fool the audience.

The promotion of The Blair Witch Project was done very cleverly. The filmmakers maintained the pretence that the film was in fact a documentary by releasing promotional poster that read “missing’ with the faces of the actors. At the premiere of the film, the actors were not allowed to attend to, again, make the audience think it was real.  These strategies contributed hugely to the success of the film which had a budget of $35,000 and made over $248 million at the box office.


Blair Witch Project


BSA306: Run Lola Run


Directed by Tom Tykwer | Released 1998 | Germany

Run Lola Run received 18 awards, including the German Film Award for Best Feature Film, two for cinematography and two for editing.

This is a very fast paced film with little to no lulls. It holds your attention throughout with its interesting use of integrating live action and animation, time lapses and the idea that the smallest action can effect someone’s entire life.

I enjoyed the use the split screen in moments when key actions were happening on the left side, and Lola was running on the other. It wasn’t distracting as the audience understands the action on the right and is able to concentrate on the left, but will still be aware of major changes on the right.

The main themes in this film are the race against time and the idea that we cannot control our lives. The race against time is shown quite obviously in Run Lola Run through the story as Lola is desperately trying to deliver money to someone before 20 minutes is up. This theme is reinforced through the constant visuals of ticking clocks.
The idea that we cannot control out lives is also quite clear throughout the film. In fact, the whole idea of the story runs off this concept; something goes wrong, so Lola has to try and fix it.
There is perhaps another, even more obvious theme; life is a circle. Lola’s day does, in fact, become a loop where her day restarts so she has another chance. There is a great visual during the animation sequence which show this theme brilliantly. Lola runs through a spiral tunnel and then, a little further on, down a spiral staircase. These spirals suggest the loop, or circle, that she is about to experience during her day. I think this ultimately pertains to the idea that events in life seem to repeat themselves, yet each time there are slightly different circumstances that come into play that allow things to work out slightly differently in the end.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film. It was more engaging than I initially expected and I would most definitely recommend it.

BSA306: Don Hertzfeldt

Don Hertzfeldt is an American animator who has received over 250 awards for his films. His best known work includes World of Tomorrow (2015), Billy’s Balloon (1998), and Rejected (2000). His work is often characterised by hand-drawn stick figures, black humour, and surrealism. He animates in a traditional style, choosing to use pen and paper over the more common digital methods. Hertzfeldt will then photograph the drawing with antique 16mm or 35mm cameras. It is not unusual for Hertzfeldt to complete all of the work on one of his films by himself, meaning he is the writer, director, producer, animator, photographer, editor, voice artist and more.

My personal favourite of his works is Rejected. The film is a collection of shorts which are said to have been rejected after Hertzfeldt was commissioned to create them for commercials and television networks. However this is fictional as Hertzfeldt has never done any commercial work. Rejected was inspired by the fact that, after Billy’s Balloon, he received many requests to do commercial work, but declined. Instead, he eventually decided to create a collection of the worst possible commercials he could think of.
Rejected was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 73rd Academy Awards.

BSA306: British New Wave

British New Wave was a film movement in the 1950s and 1960s in Britain. The films that were produced as part of this movement were often considered “kitchen sink” films as they looked at the everyday life of the working class. Before  the British New Wave, British films were often focused on the middle-class and working-class characters would appear as little more than comic aid or “‘salt of the earth’ cannon fodder.” (Wickham, n.d.) Instead, British New wave put the working class in the center of the story, focusing on their lives seriously.

The only British New Wave films that focus directly on conflicts between the working-class and middle-class are Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top (1958) and Tony Richardson’s Look Back in Anger (1959), whereas many of the later films of this movement focus on the conflicts among those in the working-class (Wickham, n.d.).

I think one of the biggest attractions of British New Wave films is the sense of realism in the stories and characters as they are familiar settings, situations and people.

Some of the most notable modern films that were influenced by British New Wave films are Trainspotting (1996), The Full Monty (1997) and Billy Elliot (2000). Like the films from the 50s and 60s, these films follow working-class characters through their everyday lives. These films, instead of being considered British New Wave films, are instead considered “underclass films”. Similarly to British New Wave films, underclass films, especially of the 1990s, tend to focus on the gender anxiety of male characters and the New Labour politics of ‘rebranding’ UK (Seino, 2010, p. 16).

“The 1990s is the decade of the British social realist film which explores the concept of British identity. It also presents a new national identity of ‘Britishness’, which was represented as the UK‟s creative cultural industry.” (Seino, 2010, p. 21)


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Seino, T. (2010). The 1990s to present: New labour and the new millenium. Realism and Representation of the Working Class in Contemporary British Cinema. Pp. 16 – 21.

Wickham, P. (n.d.). British new wave. Retrieved from:

BSA306: Dogme 95

Dogme 95 was a film movement that began in 1995 and ended in 2005. Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg created the movement, writing the “Dogme 95 Manifesto” and “The Vows of Chastity” which detailed the rules of this movement. The key idea behind this movement was to exclude the use of elaborate special effects or technology, which were taking over the film industry at the time, and focus on the traditional values of filmmaking through story, performance and theme. [1] Some of the key characteristics of Dogme 95 films were that they were shot on location, the camera must be handheld, the film must be in colour, and the director must not be credited. [2]

The Museum of Arts and Design celebrated Dogme 95 with their cinema series The Director Must Not Be Credited: 20 Years of Dogme 95. The series featured work from Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Jean-Marc Barr, Daniel H. Byun, Harmony Korine, Kristian Levring, Annette K. Olesen, and Lone Scherfig. [3]

One of the things I look out for in a film is well written (and performed) characters who feel gritty and real, so the idea of the rules in the Dogme 95 movement really interested me. From the glimpses of the Dogme films that I saw in the documentary The Name of This Flim is Dogme 95, stripping back many of the artifices of modern film making seemed to allow, or perhaps force, the actors to give more of themselves to their performances, in turn creating more natural characters. As I am focusing on what can make a film, or story, feel more authentic in my research this year I will now be looking into Dogme 95 and possibly using this movement as an influence in my end of year project.

BSA306: Baraka


Directed by Ron Fricke ❖ Released 1992 ❖ Non-narrative film

Admittedly I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this film as much as I did. I hoped I would like it, but I actually really, really liked it.

Baraka is Ron Fricke’s 1992 non-narrative documentary film, with no dialogue or voice-over. It was shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period. This film is a follow up to Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (1982), on which Fricke was the cinematographer, which is a similar non-verbal documentary film. Fricke set out on his own with Baraka to further expand on the styles and techniques used to capture Koyaanisqatsi. 

Baraka, shot on 70mm, combines photographic styles such as slow-motion and time-lapse. In 2007 the film became the first ever to be restored at 8k resolution.

The film explores themes of religion, materialism and social change.

BSA306: Motion Capture

The Motion Capture Society details the history of motion capture and the various things that influenced it right back to 1774 when Johann Heinrich Lambert developed “spatial resection”.

Motion capture first began through rotoscoping where footage of a live actor or actress would traced over so the animated characters would have more fluidity. Rotoscoping was devised by Max Fleischer in 1915 and used in his series Out of the Inkwell. Walt Disney adopted this method using it in the 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Since the method was so successful in this film, Disney continued to use it in other features like Peter Pan (1953), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Sleeping Beauty (1959).


Rotoscoping is still used in the industry today. One of the most famous examples in recent times comes from A Scanner Darkly (2006), Richard Linklater’s feature based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name.

Motion capture for computer character animation began in the 1970s. It works by recording details of body movement, most commonly with humans, and then transferring those details onto a computer animated character. Gollum from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was created this way, as was Davy Jones from the second and third instalments of Pirates of the Caribbean. 



BSA306: Breaking Conventions in Trailers

There are instances where breaking genre conventions in trailers have worked in favour of the trailer. This is because it is still clear what the genre of the film is. Example: Logan (2017). Read more as a drama as it was slower paced and had a paced soundtrack (Johnny Cash’s Hurt), but it was still clear that it would be an action film. This was made clear from the fact that it was part of the X-men franchise and the visuals shown in the trailer.



The non-dialogue trailer is also an example of breaking the conventions of trailers. Although this is not strictly considered breaking conventions, it is different take on the traditional trailer and can be incredibly effective as it is universally understandable and is memorable for being different. Example: The Handmaiden (2016). Powerful visuals and soundtrack left no need for dialogue.


Another example of a non-dialogue trailer is the teaser for La La Land. This trailer has no dialogue, but instead features one of the songs from the film, juxtaposed with the rich visuals of the film.

However, breaking conventions can backfire. August: Osage County’s trailer marketed the film as a comedy, misleading audiences as it was actually a serious drama with very few jokes (all of which appeared in the trailer). The editors of this trailer did comment that although the trailer was an inaccurate representation of the film, it ultimately drew in audiences and made a considerable profit.


Another example of a kind of trailer that breaks conventions is one that I have already discussed in a previous post; the sneak peek trailer. Again, a great example of a successful sneak peek is the opening scene from It (2017) which played in cinemas. This trailer really set the mood for the film and established the fear-inducing character of Pennywise, something that is key for this film. Another reason that this was successful is that a slightly shorter version of this scene was shared around social media alongside the same scene from the original book to film adaption. The side-by-side comparison allowed audiences to get a taste for what else was to come with the remake as the production values were considerably higher than the original, suggesting that the rest of the film might be bigger and better than it’s predecessor.


BSA306: Styles of Trailers

Once the idea of using the voice over in the trailer became outdated, trailer producers began looking for more interesting ways to promote films. No, this was not a new thing. Hitchcock put a lot of effort into marketing Psycho, creating a trailer that was six minutes long which took the audience on a journey through the Bate’s house and the plot of the film. He then ensured that cinemas enforced the rule of not letting audience members into the cinema late, demanding that they must see the film in it’s entirety. [1] In more recent times, it has become more popular to release unique and interesting trailers. This is to ensure that they stand out from other trailers and that the audience remember your trailer and want to watch the film, because what do studios want more than anything? To make money. And, in order to actually make any money, people need to see the film, but to see the film they need to be interested during the marketing campaign, hence the need for a “stand out” trailer.

I have realised that there are three distinct style of trailers out there; the traditional trailer, the teaser trailer and the sneak peek trailer.

The traditional trailer: This kind of trailer is basically what I mentioned in a previous post. It allows the characters to tell parts of their own story rather than the third party of the voice over. This is more or less what is known as the “theatrical trailer”. The theatrical trailer mimics the actual feature in the sense that it tells parts of the story in the way that the story is told within the film. For example, if the story is narrated by a character, seen or unseen, so will the trailer be. Likewise, if the audience is led on journey by the characters, as if we were flies on the wall witnessing everything take place, the trailer will play out in a similar fashion. This is how the majority of trailers are presented to us and this is what the audience is most familiar with. The challenge for the filmmaker or trailer producer with the style of trailer is to make it stand out from other trailers made in the same style. Often the tools used to make these trailers stand out from the crowd are visually stunning shots, amazing special effects and the funniest jokes.

(See below for examples)


The teaser trailer:  The teaser trailer is not dissimilar from the theatrical trailer. However, there seems to be more freedom in how these are presented. The major differences between a teaser trailer and a theatrical trailer is the length – the teaser is generally shorter – and the amount of dialogue used. Teaser trailers will often simply introduce the film, it’s plot, the mood and it’s characters. In other words, it teases the films I have mentioned the trailer for Broadchurch before, but I will mention it again as I feel it is a great example of how a teaser trailer can be incredibly effective in setting up for a story and being memorable for being a little different which, as previously discussed, is really what the studios are aiming for.

The sneak peek trailer: Another effective and unique approach to trailers is the sneak peek. This will often be a scene taken from somewhere near the beginning of the film that clearly sets up for the rest of the story. Most times, these kinds of trailers are marketed as teasers and will usually be made for a film with a preexisting following as the audience will be aware of the general plot.