Trailers Aren’t Trash!

On Wednesday, IGN released the incredible trailer for the new zombie game, Dead Island.  The story is standard zombie fare: a family goes on vacation, the daughter turns into a zombie, and the daughter turns on the parents (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead).  However, the trailer is beautifully directed, with two intercut sequences, one starting from the beginning and one started from the end, until the two converge in a powerful moment of humanity.

The trailer succeeds on two counts: 1. It beautifully communicates the tone of the movie, and 2. It got people talking about a game that has been delayed since 2008.  In honor of Dead Island, we’re bringing you our favorite trailers that saved long-gestating movies.


This project had been in development since the 80s, with actors such as Robin Williams and John Cusak attached.  The graphic novel has been included on Time’s All-Time 100 Novels list, and even “inspired” another movie, The Incredibles.  Warner Bros. hired Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300 at the time) to direct, and he assembled a less-than All-Star cast.  Things did not look good, until the trailer dropped in 2008.

Those were read the novel were able to see their beloved story faithfully exist on screen, while those unfamiliar were properly educated of the story’s bleak and violent environment.  From the music cues (the Owlship’s emergence, Dr. Manhattan’s resurrection, the Comedian’s last fight) to each character’s introduction, Watchmen did everything correctly.

Where The Wild Things Are

Another beloved book that people doubted its adaptation.  Although instead of having too much source material, people accused this of not having enough.  Warner Bros. faced ill will after a screen test leaked.  At this point, the monsters were costumed actors with CGI faces, but after this screen test, Warner Bros. opted for full CGI.  As this 2005 screen test surfaced, people were critical, especially those who believed a 48-page children’s book could not be adapted into a full-length movie.  But in March of 2009, Warner Bros. released a trailer that got every college student buzzing about it on Facebook.  It featured indie music darlings Arcade Fire’s song “Wake Up,” and the footage provided the young adults with an opportunity to reminisce about their childhoods.

The Fountain

Originally slated to be Darren Aronofsky’s immediate follow-up to 2000’s Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain looked as though it was stuck in development hell once its big name stars—Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett—left and the studio threatened to cut the budget.  However, Aronofsky recruited Hugh Jackman and his then-wife Rachel Weisz too fill the void, and moved on under the new budget.  Finally in 2005, viewers got their first look at the movie, and it was insane.  The teaser poignantly showed the time travel through the sequence of evolving shots: from horseback, to car, to space orb.  Although The Fountain didn’t do well at the box office, the trailer was a victory for Aronofsky’s 4-year war.

TRON: Legacy

TRON is a cult hit, but was a financial disaster for Disney in 1982.  So why make a sequel? Because former Disney Chairman Dick Cook’s daughter raved about the film. Flexing its marketing muscle, Disney promoted the hell out of it at Comic Cons, displaying the light cycles and recreating Flynn’s arcade.  Finally, the trailer debuted in March of 2010 and appealed to more than just nerds.  How?  Primarily the novelty of a Daft Punk soundtrack, but the display of new technology heightened by Avatar’s success, the novelty of a Daft Punk soundtrack, and only a glimpse of then-recent Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges (also Olivia Wilde in a skin tight outfit? Yes, please.).  The movie was not spectacular, but the trailer showed us what it could have been.

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