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Red Band Trailers- Behind the Hype


The first glimpse that many people have of a movie is a trailer. It helps sell the movie and (hopefully for the filmmakers,) encourages you to plunk down a few bucks to buy a ticket to see their latest work. The first movie trailer was created in 1912 for the movie ‘The Adventures of Kathlyn.’  As changes in editing happened, so did the trailers. David O. Selznick created trailers for his movies that drew a connection to the literary element of many of his films. Alfred Hitchcock made himself the star of his trailers, walking audiences through the Psycho set in one, lecturing on the relationship between man and birds in the trailer for ‘The Birds.’ However, as editing styles and conventions changed in the 1960s and 70s, so did the trailers. And when the MPAA introduced the current ratings system in the late 60s, they also introduced ratings for trailers.

There are two types of movie trailers. The most common one, is the green band trailer. It means that no matter the rating of the film it’s advertising, the trailer is appropriate for all audiences. The red band, however, is restricted and can only be shown in front of R or NC-17 rated movies. The red band trailer used to be a rare being. Viewable only with certain movies cut down on the number of movies that the trailer could be paired with. Studios looking for maximum advertising usually shied away from it. However, with the advent of the internet, red band trailers have taken off.

The internet allows studios to require age verification, usually consisting of you entering your birthdate and zip code before you’re allowed to see the trailer. While the concept has been around for a while, the latest crop of horror films, (including the ‘Amityville Horror’ remake,) and the new group of more adult comedies, (‘Knocked Up,’ ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’) have brought the trailer back full force.

If you look around on-line right now, you can find red band trailers for ‘Step Brothers,’ ‘The Happening,’ and ‘Tropic Thunder.’ The ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’ trailer featured several jokes that they were unable to include in the green band trailer, as well as a nude shot of the lead actor. However, many of the trailers don’t seem to push the envelope as much. ‘Tropic Thunder,’ and ‘Step Brothers,’ seem simply rife with language which, I don’t know, doesn’t make me want to see the movie any more than before. ‘The Happening,’ features more blood than the original trailer.

Red band trailers will continue to be popular on-line. Perhaps because of the thrill that you’re seeing part of the movie that you can’t see anywhere else. Perhaps because you’re getting a better sense of a movie than you would from a green band trailer.

But does the hype of the ‘unrated’ trailer live up to what the film can deliver? The question varies from film to film. It takes a keen eye of movie goers to try to see behind the hype. -Sam

One thought on “Red Band Trailers- Behind the Hype

  1. For me, the appeal is that, for an R-rated movie, you’re actually getting a preview of the movie in all of its R-rated-ness. It’s not dumbed down, it’s edges aren’t glossed over so that kids can sit through it and not become demented killers rampaging through society (as hearing the word “fuck” would inevitably drive them to become). It’s a film meant for adults and it’s a trailer geared towards the adults who would be seeing it. That’s why I get hyped about them.

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