In a world where movie trailers and common phrases collide... one article describes the practice.
There are certain conventions
when creating movie trailers; these differ depending on whether the trailer is for comedy or for drama. Usually, you can tell which kind you're going to get depending on the first few voice-over lines of the trailer; if it starts with "In a World" or no voiceover whatsoever, you can expect drama, especially Speculative Fiction
. However, if it begins with cheery music, it's going to be a comedy, even if the soundtrack turns sour as the narrator discusses the plot's primary conflict. In both cases, the voiceover is Always Male
These archetypes are increasingly becoming subverted
and may even be leaning toward being discredited
. Increasingly, movie trailers feature no narration at all.
does a good job of showing how certain styles of trailer-talk do not mix. See They Fight Crime
for this kind of plot-pitching used for Television
Named for a line commonly attributed to "That Guy from the Movies", the late Don LaFontaine
, who very likely single-handedly brought this trope into being
Common Dramatic Elements, in order:
- A (green) MPAA Rating Card reads "The following PREVIEW has been approved for / ALL AUDIENCES / by the Motion Picture Association of America" (Since 2014, theatrical trailers "have been APPROVED to / ACCOMPANY THIS FEATURE") and then "The film advertised has been rated PG-13..."
- "In a World [Where]"
- And its related forms, "In a Land", "In a Time", etc.
- Often (immediately) followed with "...where X and Y collide"
- This page lists several examples real-life "in a world" trailers, most of which are non-parodies and most of which are by Don Lafontaine, though few actually begin with the phrase in question. This is just to officially prove, if such proof be needed, that the "in a world" trope is not a Dead Unicorn Trope.
- "When your life is no longer your own"
- "One man/woman/boy/girl [must]"
- "Will change the world"
- "Will embark on a journey"
- "Things are about to get..."
- "A hero will rise"
- Darker lighting, tends to feature very few speaking portions of the film
- Taglines said/shown one word at a time, interspersed with kickass clips.
- Monologue from the lead character will summarize their struggles.
- It's been 42 Days since...
- I keep on running...
- But I can't...
- "One Woman's Journey"
- An increasingly frantic soundtrack for action/adventure movies, abruptly silencing for a character to make an ironic remark, then finishing with one last BUM-BUM-BUM BUMM!!!
- A fairly recent addition has been the use of whooshes (as in sound effects) and plenty of them, usually punctuating cuts from scene to scene or scenery pans. Expect on occasion a boom hit to mix things up.
- Chanting or cheering (often gradually increasing in volume as a fade-in happens). Especially common for sports movies.
- Montage increases in speed as the trailer progresses, until what you get is a succession of one-second shots, often followed by a Fade to Black, and then the movie title.
- Whatever the movie's actual soundtrack is, the trailer's own soundtrack will be Carmina Burana, Lux Aeterna or scratchy, tension-filled electronic music.
- Unless it's a sequel, in which case it will usually use the first film's soundtrack.
- Or a guitar-heavy rock song that doesn't appear on the soundtrack playing over action-packed, fast-cut footage from the movie. This is usually done in TV commercials for the movie instead of the full trailer.
- A popular choice in films made since 2004 has been the track "Hello Zepp" from the Saw soundtrack. You'll know it when you hear it.
- In the six Saw sequels since then, perchance?
- Paramount/Columbia/Whatever Pictures [proudly] presents...
- When is the film coming? It's usually Coming soon...
- Or it is Now in theaters [everywhere].
- Or possibly This summer...
- Some dramatic display of the date, especially when the date is something like 6/6/2006.
- Often finished with one final tagline and possibly a split-second shot of the monster/hero.
- "....and this time, it's war/serious/personal...."
Common Comedic Elements:
- "Meet [Character's Name]!"
- "[Character's Name] was just an average [name of profession/title]"
- "...until, one day..."
- More footage of the actual film, almost to Trailers Always Spoil levels.
- Any of the Dramatic Elements used in a way that is subverted.
- The Record Needle Scratch.
- The Overly Long Gag has become surprisingly common, too. Austin Powers might have had something to do with it...
- "Walkin' On Sunshine" is frequently used for the music.
- If you want to see all of these piled on at once, watch the trailer for Bye Bye Love.
- The music will usually cut out a few times to show gags from the film.
Common for both:
- "(Coming) this year/summer/fall/winter/soon (to a (movie) theatre near you)"
- This has since been condensed to simply 'This summer/fall/July/whathaveyou'; in particularly poisonous cases, this is followed several cuts later by an exhortation for the audience to PUNCH CRIME or otherwise do something that the characters in the film will be doing (rather than, more sincerely, exhorting them to purchase a ticket and see their film) They may also be asked to go on an adventure "beyond imagination", or beyond something similar. This was perhaps a fair cop in Zardoz's advertising campaign (well, it was in keeping with the lunatic bombast of the film, at least), but when attributed to the Mummy films, it just looks desperate.
- The trailer often ends in a shot of the movie's title; it may or may not be spoken by the narrator.
- If the title shot isn't the end, there'll be The Stinger with a particularly cool or funny moment from the movie.
- For suspense pictures, the title shot may be accompanied by a particularly chilling line from the film.
- The suggestion that "If you only see one movie this summer/fall/winter/spring, make it..." A Dead Horse Trope now seen only in subversion.
- "All [character, often a child] ever wanted was..."
- "From the creators/producers/director of (movie title) comes a story..."
- Starring [Academy Award winner/nominee] X, [Academy Award winner/nominee] Y, [Academy Award winner/nominee] Z...
- A display of Sundance Film Festival Awards, for that indie look.
- Someone from Rolling Stone/Time/Whatever magazine says it's "Stunning/Awesome / The best film of the year".
- "If you liked (title), you'll love (other title)."
- Sometimes seen in remakes, or sequels of really old moves (Often promising the Duke Nukem effect), Several dark, quiet, or shaky camera shots, followed by a very quick glimpse of something recognizable from the previous film.
- The best example would be the Star Trek movie (2009) teaser, where you couldn't see much, until the last shot showed that it was the Enterprise.
, Parodies, and Lampshade Hanging
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Anime and Manga
- Played mostly straight in the English dub of Burst Angel, where a movie trailer seen by some characters gets an "In a world of violence, one man got a second chance..." narration.
- Played straight by John Avner's narration of Berserk, where every episode begins with Void's "In this world...".
- A 2013 comedy starring Lake Bell, about a young lady seeking to follow her father's footsteps into the trailer voiceover business, is titled, naturally, In a World....
- Most Real Trailer, Fake Movie examples
- The Mother of All Trailers.
- The aforementioned trailer for Comedian, which actually features Hal Douglas, the other movie trailer guy.
- 5 Men and a Limo.
- The trailer for the film of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy was narrated by the Guide, as an entry in the Guide on movie trailers, spoken by Stephen Fry. It consisted of one continuous Lampshade Hanging and parody of science fiction action movie tropes. It can be found here.
- Often, this section is preceded by the words "In a world" ...[Earth explodes] but sometimes not.
- Trailers also normally employ A DEEP VOICE that sounds like a seven foot tall man who has been smoking cigarettes since childhood.
- The goal is create a piece of advertising that is original and exciting, yet intelligent and provocative. In other words, lots of things blowing up. *cue explosion montage* Occasionally interrupted by a girl in a bikini.
- Subtly invoked by the Australian trailer for The Proposition, which starts with a stark shot of the outback and Ray Winstone saying "Australia. What fresh hell is this?"
- The "trailer" at the end of Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist was just scenes cut from the film along with this kind of narration.
- The trailer for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, which came out the same summer as Star Wars Episode I, after doing a fake out bit about Star Wars, had the narrator say, "If you only see one movie this year... make it Star Wars. But, if you see two movies this year..."
- In The Holiday, Cameron Diaz's character Amanda works in Hollywood editing movie trailers, and even when she gets away on vacation a voice in her head (Hal Douglas!) sometimes reflexively narrates her emotional ups and downs using trailer-voiceover-speak, laden with this trope. The whole movie has numerous affectionate shout-outs to the film industry.
- Done straight and with a twist in the trailer for Heavenly Creatures: "In a world where dreamers and believers are miraculously transformed..." "But ours is not a world that believes in magic..."
- Like virtually every other Hollywood cliche, Team America: World Police (specifically, its trailer) satirizes this mercilessly.
- The trailer for Borat was narrated by the main character himself. ("See my moviefilm. If it is no success, I will be execute!")
- The trailer for Knights Of Badassdom:
In a world within our world they've created a world unlike any other world!
- The trailer for Angels And Insects:
In a world of wealth and privilege, he was an outsider ...
- In Moving Pictures, the standard phrase is "Against The Backdrop Of A World Gone Mad!" At one point Soll is attempting to negotiate with a group of dwarfs who object to being stereotyped as miners ("But most dwarfs are miners!" "Yes, but we're not happy about it."), a troll who wants to play the leading man, and various other people nitpicking the plot, when someone asks him why all Mr Dibbler's pictures are set against the backdrop of a world gone mad. His response is "Because Mr Dibbler is a very observant person."
- Parodied on The Colbert Report in the intro to a segment on movies. "In a world... [Record Needle Scratch] until he met her!"
- On the pilot for Frank Caliendo's short-lived show, Frank TV, there is a segment parodying the Three Tenors where three movie announcers go on tour. It guest stars Pablo Francisco and Don La Fontaine, and begins, "In a world..."
- The opening narration for Xena: Warrior Princess.
- Played with in a commercial for Hogan's Heroes which was written by Stan Freberg. During a TV commercial where Freberg interviews star Bob Crane:
: Shall we say, "If you liked World War II
, you'll love Hogan's Heroes
: No, let's not say that, no.
- When Chuck kinda almost proposed to Sarah.
Morgan: "In a world full of awkward Chuck and Sarah moments, comes a moment so awkward..."
- Lampshaded in Dollhouse.
Topher: "In a world where all men are guilty until proven dead, one man stands as our only hope in the fight against..."
- In How I Met Your Mother when Lily was forced to paint Barney nude. He imagined it would begin with "In a world that needed a hero..."
- Parodied in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.
- "In a land of myth, and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name... Merlin." ("Young man" as of Season 4.)
Stand Up Comedy
Table Top Games
- Whiplash has this as one of its first jokes. A bunny starts with "IN A WORLD, WHERE A VOICE FROM THE HEAVENS TELLS YOU TO CUT LOOSE—", but he's promptly attacked by guards.
- IN A WORLD GONE BAD... Text example, not to ruin your happiness from listening The Thing I Hate in the intro of Time to Kill.
- The Narrator in House Of The Dead Overkill speaks every single one of his lines in this style, which is appropriate considering the game is a pastiche of seventies exploitation films.
- The Bionic Commando Rearmed soundtrack has an audio track called "One Man, One Bionic Arm," which is the audio track for the game and its premise as if it were a typical blockbuster film.
- The Onion Knight's story path in Dissidia: Final Fantasy begins with a dramatic narration that includes the phrase "In a world that was slowly decaying around them..."
- "In a world covered by endless water..."
- The trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4.
- A Gamestop ad for Mass Effect 3 had this style, to show off the Valkyrie rifle you get as a preorder bonus. At least until Shepard tells Garrus to cut the cheesy narration and help him shoot things.
- Deadpool, executing his enemies with his twin hammers, occasionally quips "In a world, where dipshits get killed with hammers...".
- Homestar Runner spoofed this repeatedly in the Strong Bad Email narrator, where Strong Bad went around narrating the everyday lives of his friends and neighbors as if they were movie trailers: an argument between Bubs and Coach Z over napkins becomes a trailer for a post-apocalyptic action film, a tiff between Marzipan and Homestar over a goofy novelty chef's hat becomes a trailer for a romantic dramedy, the Poopsmith shoveling... whatsit becomes a trailer for a snooty French art film, and Strong Mad and The Cheat playing Battleship becomes a trailer for a buddy comedy. Butt Monkey Strong Sad is "fortunate" enough to get two trailers: one for a comedy where he gets hit in the face with an octopus, and one for a horror movie where he gets hit in the face with a dead Canada goose.
- Here Comes Dr. Tran revolves around a five year-old boy getting harassed by a movie trailer narrator.
Narrator: He...is a man of action... He...is a man of honor...
Tran: Who is that?
Narrator: He...is a man of duty...
Tran: Are you talking to me?
- Frequently parodied by British film critic Mark Kermode, eg "in a world of queens, she was her majesty..."
- And now for the trailer for Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins:
"In a world in which narrative coherence is under threat, it takes a real hero not to lose the plot, and in a world in which holding onto a penguin can mean holding onto the woman you love, one boy better make sure he doesn't lose the plot."
- The 76th Academy Awards present The Return Of The Host.
- On the Cineworld hompage is the byline Welcome to a world without booking fees.