By Adam Clement
The following has been approved for mature audiences.
No, this doesn’t concern pornography—just the latest omnipresent fad moving throughout big and small screens across America: trailer trash, so to speak.
Back in March, The Hollywood Reporter broke news that Regal Entertainment Group had decided to run restricted, red-banded previews in front of R and NC-17-rated features and with that the flood gates opened.
Now, such mega summer releases as Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, The Happening, Step Brothers and Wanted have made use of the format.
Yet while the trailers only play in front of adult content in theatres, underage viewers can easily access them online. By all standards, the system for checking age before viewing the trailers is lax at best. They can be digested on many sites by simply entering a fake birth date into a hardly foolproof drop-down box system.
Although with Tropic Thunder, Paramount implemented a slightly stricter interface by mandating a name, corresponding zip-code and date of birth that will not provide content unless there is a legitimate match. Of course, cyber-savvy viewers under the age of 17 can just as easily front with someone else’s information, such as a celebrity whose background and place of residence is easily obtainable online.
As for the questionable impact on cinematic profits, Executive Producer of The Golden Trailer Awards, Monica Brady, believes only good can come of this technique.
“I think the red-band trailer allows the audience to see more of what they’re really getting,” Brady claimed. “If you look at the Forgetting Sarah Marshall red-band trailer, you get a better idea of the type of humor that you’re in for than the green-band trailer. I think they’re actually just providing more information to attract the targeted audience.”
Arguing that more information makes for a better consumer is one thing; but given more sex, language and violence flaunted, what keeps a traditional preview from revealing too much too soon? This is a gripe commonly heard in Brady’s line of work.
“Sometimes [the marketing] works and sometimes it doesn’t. An editor’s job is to put people in seats; but if you give away 2 minutes and 30 seconds of all the jokes in the movie, there really wasn’t much there to start with," Brady added.
Considering that the comedy genre has made the most use of red-band trailers, it’s only a matter of time before the fad disseminates into other genres.
“I think you’re going to see [red-bands] go into the independent realm. In Bruges had a red-band trailer, but all they did was take out the swearing and make it a green-band trailer,” Brady pointed out.
The impact that this viral-inspired trend will have is going to be put to the test this summer. The red-band trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s
may have helped it defy negative buzz on its way to a successful opening weekend and
will need all the help it can get to convince adult audiences to check out something more intense than
when both films open June 27th.