Trailer Spoof

"Wait, wait, wait, stop! Is this another Muppet trailer parody? Why don't we just show a real trailer? I mean, what are we hiding? Did we make the movie in Swedish or something?"
Jason Segel, The Muppets

So you're in the movie theatre, the house lights are coming down, and the screen lights up with the previews of coming attractions. After the standard green MPAA Trailer Approved To Accompany This Feature slate, the screen shows a dark city full of foreboding, while the announcer intones about heady topics like crime running rampant or a city crying out for help. On a rooftop, a shadowy figure emerges. It could only be a certain Dark Knight...and then the figure is revealed!

Wait, that's not what Batman looks like! It's... Scooby-Doo?!?

Congratulations. You've just been had by a Trailer Spoof.

A Trailer Spoof is when a trailer will try to hook your attention by pretending to be a trailer for a well known movie franchise, or a highly-anticipated blockbuster film. Then anywhere from half-way to three quarters through comes The Reveal: it's actually a trailer for a perhaps not-so-anticipated comedy movie. (It's almost always some form of comedy, dramas and straight action/adventure films take themselves too seriously to try this sort of thing.)

Virtually all Trailer Spoofs are teaser trailers, whose purpose is to "build awareness" for the film, although it's still a long way off from release. Expect actual footage from the real film to be limited to 30 seconds or less, since usually teaser trailers are made when the film is still being worked on. If they had more footage to show, the studio would likely not bother with a spoof, and just release a trailer cut from the footage instead.

Compare Real Trailer, Fake Movie, which is when the trick to the trailer is that it's for a movie that doesn't exist. Yet.


Film: Animated

Film: Live Action
  • A trailer for Scooby-Doo pretended to be for a Batman movie — until the silhouette that looked like Batman turned out to be Scooby. Supposedly, a lot of Batman fans were pissed.
  • Austin Powers:
    • The second movie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me came out the same year as The Phantom Menace and had a trailer that started by going through the Death Star with Vader Breath in the background while closing in on a chair... until the Chair Reveal has Dr. Evil sitting in it. After that, the trailer goes in more typical Austin Powers style, including the narrator saying "If you see only one movie this summer, see... Star Wars. But if you see two movies, see Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me!"
    • A trailer for Austin Powers in Goldmember began in a manner similar to the opening credits of Goldfinger. Which in turn led MGM to sue New Line for copyright infringement. The suit was settled and in exchange, the trailer to Die Another Day was attached to all prints of Goldmember.
  • One television commercial for Notting Hill tried the same device against Austin Powers by focusing on a wacky supporting character. It didn't quite work.
  • The trailer for Dumb And Dumberer disguised itself as a trailer for The Hobbit, leaving every member of the audience sorely pissed.
  • A TV spot for Saving Silverman used the same typeface as Hannibal's ads to spell out "Get rid of the fava beans. Hide the Chianti. He's coming" before cutting to Jack Black's "Beer bong for the lady?".
  • One Star Wars: Episode II commercial — not a trailer, because trailers are Serious Business to Star Wars fans, but a simple TV commercial — seemed to start out referring to Spider-Man, complete with metallic webbing and the Spider-Man font: "Swing into action with the summer's newest action hero!" It then cut to... Yoda, who cut a pose and did one of his little Cool Old Guy growls. Then he starts jumping and fighting Count Dooku...
  • Trailers for Garfield: The Movie and Stuart Little 2 imitated moments from the first Spider-Man movie.
  • A teaser trailer had a dark Tarzan-like feel...until near the end.
    "Deep in the African jungle lives a mysterious figure. His name is legendary. His strength is remarkable. And his theme pretty good, too." (cue George of the Jungle theme)
  • A trailer for the live-action Thunderbirds movie baited audiences with the idea of a Hulk 2 teaser by having citizens scream and shout and the sight of something big and green before cutting to a number "2" on a green background. The camera pulled back, revealing that it was the hull of Thunderbird 2.
  • Citizens kept yelling "It's a bird!", "It's a plane!", but Bullwinkle said it looked like a flying squirrel in the Superman-themed teaser trailer for the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. Similarly, one of the trailers had the tag line "You will believe a squirrel can fly!"
  • A teaser trailer for Ali G Indahouse pretended to be for the biopic Ali.
  • The trailer for the German stoner comedy Erkan & Stefan gegen die Mächte der Finsternis first pretended to be for The Mummy Returns (having a similar looking bad guy helped).
  • One teaser for the 2009 remake of Fame makes it look like a Harry Potter trailer (or another movie about a wizarding school) using stock footage of a steam train and a castle at the beginning , and even using lines like "Practice your craft" and "Cast a spell" in between clips.
    Coming soon, there is another school that will teach you how to fly.
  • The 2011 movie The Muppets went crazy with this:
  • The teaser trailer for MouseHunt starts off with a happy, Disney-like mood, but then gets weird.
  • Every spoof movie EVER.
  • Older Than They Think: From 1976, the trailer for The Pink Panther Strikes Again was able to take advantage of this trope thanks to the story upping the stakes from previous installments. At first, the trailer appears to be for a straight action movie — until the reveal (via trailer-specific footage) that the diabolical villain is Inspector Dreyfus, and his evil plot threatening the world is motivated solely by his desire to get rid of Inspector Clouseau once and for all.
  • Due to it coming out around the same time as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the teaser for UHF made it look like it was for the next Indiana Jones movie before switching around to reveal the face of "Weird Al" Yankovic.
  • Some TV spots for Eight Legged Freaks initially made it look like it was for Spider-Man.
  • The trailer for Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III initially made it look like it was for a movie based on the legend of King Arthur.
  • An early trailer for Underdog started out spoofing Superman, in keeping with the superhero film theme. Didn't work.
  • A trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul started out as one for a generic Marvel Cinematic Universe style superhero movie, showing the cartoon Greg Hefley in a muscular superhero suit. The actual trailer footage was triggered by Greg's "muscles" deflating. This iteration of the trailer was also abbreviated for television.

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • The Nintendo Switch Presentation trailer for 1-2-Switch starts off with two cowboys approaching each other and preparing to do a fast draw, which looks like something for a Western video game. It turns out to be a demonstration for the "Quick Draw" minigame.
  • Commercials for Battlefield: Bad Company spoofed Rainbow Six, Gears of War, and Metal Gear franchises. Usually they led the viewer on for a few moments before switching to the more "goofy" Bad Company style.
  • The trailer for the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy VII looks like a trailer for an entirely different game all together, just to show how well the graphics have improved. Only at the end, when you see Cloud's distinctive BFS, you'll realize this is FFVII.
  • Several trailers for Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS pulled this off in different ways:
    • The first trailer starts by showing the Super Smash Bros. logo in view before flashing to a scene from Animal Crossing. The Villager is seen picking up his mail, and upon reading the letter, rushes across town, leaving the letter behind. It then reveals that the letter has a Super Smash Bros. icon on it before the trailer really kicks off.
    • The reveal trailer for the Wii Fit Trainer first starts as what appears to be a trailer for a new Wii Fit game, before pulling out to reveal Mario, Link, and Kirby holding the pose shown on screen, where upon the Trainer gets their attention before attacking them.
    • Rosalina's trailer starts out with Kirby flying in space along with Kirby Air Ride music before coming upon Rainbow Road from Mario Kart, causing the viewer to expect an Air Ride game then an Air Ride/Mario Kart cross over. Then something shoots off a Launch Star, causing Kirby to crash. Luma splits off from the something and lands. Rosalina appears shortly after, and title card "Rosalina and Luma Launch Into Battle!" appears.
    • The reveal trailer for Robin starts with Lucina (also playable) dueling with Captain Falcon, who has laid Chrom out like a floor mat. Chrom laments, "Guess I'll get my chance...another day..." shortly before it's revealed that he's in, too, as part of Robin's Final Smash.
  • The trailer for Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival looked like a long-awaited Wii U main Animal Crossing title, until the screen pans to reveal board game titles. That's right, it's another Nintendo Party Game. Reaction to this was mixed.
  • In the Ubisoft video conference of the 2016 E3, there was a teaser which gives off the appearance of a Tom Clancy game, with criminal violence on the rise throughout the United States, which calls for extreme measures. "The question becomes: Who will take them?" And shortly afterwards, Eric Cartman in his Coon costume can be seen, turning this section of the conference to South Park: The Fractured but Whole.

Web Original
  • The start of the trailer for Red vs. Blue: Recreation starts off looking identical to the trailer for Reconstruction, right up until Caboose causes an explosion.

Western Animation