Naturally, as trailers are most often identified with movies, there's a number of reasons why you can Never Trust a Trailer, especially when it's for a film.
But if a trailer is just fibbing for purposes of not spoiling something, it doesn't belong here.
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Films — Animated
Animated Film in general
When Disney was promoting DVD releases of their previous animated classics on television in the 2000s, they apparently added farting or belching noises (which are not present in the actual films) in some of these commercials (e.g. Sebastian burping in The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition ads, and Captain the horse farting in the 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition ads).
On the original VHS releases of the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 movies, the trailers for Rockin' With Judy Jetson and Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf did not use clips from the actual movies in question. Instead, the Rockin' with Judy Jetson trailer used clips from the original Jetsons episode "A Date with Jet Screamer", while the Reluctant Werewolf trailer used clips from Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo episode "Moonlight Madness". Also, the trailer for Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose mistakenly identifies antagonists Dread Baron and Mumbley as Dastardly and Muttley.
Early press material for The Adventures of Tintin made it sound like Thompson and Thompson were the villains. In reality, they are two bumbling cops who serve as comic relief.
The original trailer of Alice in Wonderland implored moviegoers to, "...share with Alice the wonderful things she sees, the wonderful friends she meets." Actually, Alice doesn't make a lot of friends in Wonderland, if any at all. Most of the denizens annoy and/or try to kill her. Indeed, the very clip that this narration accompanies shows Alice running for her life from the Queen of Hearts.
There's the 1954 animated movie version of Orwell's Animal Farm which faithfully followed the novel... and then there's the 1999 made-for-TV version after a teleplay by some guy named Alan Janes, with talking animatronic animals, voiced by actors. And, um, it's apparently marketed for children, because you know... animals. this trailer implies that it's a family friendly Babe-type movie. This trailer, however, gets the tone of the story much more accurately.
Parodied in the trailer for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, which gives a long list of things that do not appear in the movie. Except the flaming chicken.
Similarly, an early trailer for Team America gave a long list of actors and political figures... followed by the note that "They're all going to hate this movie" (since it's a send-up of The War on Terror and directly makes fun of many of them).
The original trailer for Bambi consisted entirely of scenes from Bambi's adulthood, which doesn't begin until about 45 minutes into the movie, and claimed romance and action were the dominant elements.
The trailers for the All-CGI Cartoon movie Battle for Terra shows things from the humans' side and barely shows the alien characters, which misleads the public about the fact that the humans are the invaders.
A TV spot for Beauty and the Beast (which can also be seen on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases) focused on the action scenes and the slapstick battle between the Enchanted Objects and the mob as opposed to the love story that dominates the film. The slapstick, in particular, was emphasized to ride the coattails of the previous year's hit Home Alone. By contrast, the theatrical trailer was an accurate rundown of the story.
This trailer for Beavis And Butthead Do America had Butt-Head asking, "Did we miss Baywatch?" followed by Muddy shooting the TV and responding, "No." In the movie, Butt-head's line was a mere throwaway, and Muddy shooting the TV actually made sense — he did it to ensure that Beavis and Butt-Head can't watch TV before going on their mission.
An early teaser for the BIONICLEDirect-to-Video film Web of Shadows featured a somewhat eerie closeup shot of Nuju in his Toa Metru form (from the previous movie, Legends of Metru Nui), leading many fans to suspect that he was to be the big traitor in the movie. Actually, he has a very minor supporting role, and later trailers full-on revealed that Vakama was the real traitor. Nuju was probably just a random stand-in for the Toa in general for the teaser, the same way the teaser for Legends of Metru Nui showed a still of Kopaka Nuva standing in Metru Nui's great temple, which would have been impossible, as Kopaka Nuva only came into existence a 1000 years after that movie's story.
The trailers for Brave make it out to be an action flick about a girl kicking ass and becoming a hero, in the vein of Mulan. The movie itself has very little action, and instead it's about a girl who doesn't want to do what her mom wants her to do, so she accepts a curse from a witch that turns her mom into a bear, but soon regrets it and must find a way to undo the curse. While this allowed them to avoid giving away the central twist of the movie, it also made sure that a lot of people would go who wouldn't have gone otherwise.
One of the trailers also edits several lines from one of the clan leaders ("Where's the queen? This means war!") to suggest that what Merida does to her mother will threaten to start even bigger problems. While fights between the clans do break out, they're generally Played for Laughs. The transformation of Elinor only really affects the king, and the clan leaders are spoiling for fights in any case.
The trailer for The Brave Little Toaster describes the movie as cheerful and "sure to warm your spirits." It shows only images from early scenes like the cleaning scene and when they first go on the journey. After the trailer's sample of footage ends, the movie includes, in succession, the characters being taken to a second-hand store where many background characters have been mutilated which is explicitly compared to horror movies, new technology more-or-less attempting to murder the principal characters, many background characters being murdered on screen, and one human almost dying onscreen only to be saved by the Toaster giving a Heroic Sacrifice which left him critically injured.
The trailers for A Christmas Carol made it look like a goofy, kiddy version of the story. The actual movie, however, was surprisingly faithful and kept most of the original's story characteristics intact, including the horror. Some reviews actually complained that it was oddly dark for a Christmas movie; you have to wonder if they were familiar with the story at all or had been dulled due to the number of bowdlerized versions of the tale.
The original trailer of Cinderella III: A Twist in Time includes a scene of clips from the original Cinderella playing backwards while Lady Tremaine recites a time-travel incantation. Since some of these clips include the Fairy Godmother making Cinderella's carriage and ballgown, some viewers (including the author of one of IMDB's summaries) thought Lady Tremaine would stop Cinderella from meeting Prince Charming. In the actual movie, she only goes back far enough to make the glass slipper fit one of Cinderella's stepsisters, instead of her.note The narrator asks, "What if the slipper didn't fit?" in one part of the trailer.
The original trailer and synopsis for Cinderella II Dreams Come True tried to make the movie seem like a full-length feature, rather than a Compilation Movie created from an aborted tv show (similar to the Atlantis sequel). Later promos and covers make less of an effort to hide this fact, with one case even reading "Three Magical Tales" on the front.
The trailer for the Cinderella II and III 2-Movie Collection shows so many clips from A Twist in Time that people who never saw either movie before might mistake some of those clips as scenes from Dreams Come True. It doesn't help that part of this ad actually dubs audio from Dreams Come True over Twist in Time footage. Plus, like the original Dreams Come True trailer, it never draws attention to that movie's lack of a central plot.
The theatrical trailer for Coraline is honestly pretty terrifying and accurate to the actual movie but the TV spots make it seem like lighthearted children's fare.
The Croods trailers make it look like rebellious teen Eep is the main character. While her open-minded approach to new experiences is important, it's her dad who's really the main character, protecting his family.
The early trailers for Despicable Me showed only the escalating, cartoony conflict between the Villain Protagonist and the, er, Villain-y-er Antagonist, making the movie look like a Spy vs. Spy-style supervillainy-fest. Only the later trailers revealed the movie's true nature as a Children Raise You story which happens to feature a supervillain as its main character.
There was also the teaser which consisted entirely of the opening scene followed by the titles. The scene in question involves a misbehaving kid unintentionally exposing the Great Pyramid of Giza to have been replaced by an inflatable copy, followed by a news report commenting on these events. Based on this alone, the film appears to be some kind of comedy-mystery about a mysterious villain planning to steal various monuments, and the plot seems to be about trying to find out who is responsible. In actuality the Pyramid theft is pretty minor (although it does become the subject for some humor when it is shown to have been stolen by the antagonist and hidden in his base, and it is painted blue so that it blends in with the sky. Of course, this incident does inspire Gru's plan to steal the Moon, which does help to drive the story, but the primary focus is still on his relationship with the kids.
The title also shows an intimidating silhouette of Gru, implying he's the villain... even though he's the main character.
Must have been the "fedora" that made us think that.
A trailer for Doogal portrayed the film as being a comedy, specifically a parody of the adventure genre, i.e. Lord of the Rings. The film ended up being filled with more sugary sweetness and life lessons than a Care Bears movie. And the VA that they used for the main character (a dog) in the trailer? It was really the rabbit. As Hoodwinked had shown, you should Never Trust A Bunny.
The trailer for Dino Time makes it look like the dinosaur voiced by Rob Schneider is a Talking Animal and the kids can understand him, but in the film he only talksto other dinosaurs. The trailer also doesn't show any other dinosaurs talking.
The teaser for Frozen, a Disney Princess movie which is an adaptation of The Snow Queen, didn't even show anything about the story or main characters. Instead, it was a quick one-to-two-minute gag involving Olaf the snowman sneezing his carrot nose off and trying to keep the reindeer Sven from getting it. Later trailers continued to overplay how much of a part Olaf had in the movie, often focusing on his jokes and slapstick over anything resembling plot. The actual film turned out to be about a lot more than just Olaf's wacky antics.
Frozen's more serious trailer later on featured a shot of Elsa apparently deliberately casting some powerful ice magic, then switching to a shot of Arendelle freezing over, suggesting she deliberately cast a curse of eternal winter on Arendelle. The two shots are unrelated, and Elsa has no idea she cursed Arendelle — it's just really bad Power Incontinence. The same trailers also made Elsa to be much more antagonistic, or possibly an outright villain, than she is. It also made it seem as if Anna had her own ice magic, gave the impression that the Endless Winter had lasted longer than it really did, and indicated that Anna's relationship with Elsa would be a bombshell she drops on her companions midway through the story.
Hoodwinked!, that is another case to talk about. The story is supposed to be Little Red Riding Hood with a twist. The trailers are formatted in such a way that they portray the Wolf as a moronic, incompetent villain, when in the movie he is an intelligent investigative journalist whose only antagonism is Mistaken Identity on Red Puckett's behalf.
One trailer for The Hunchback of Notre Dame focuses on the Festival of Fools, making the movie seem far more lighthearted than it actually was.
How to Train Your Dragon's early trailers and TV-spots made the film look a lot more slapsticky and goofy than it truly was and implied that everyone immediately embraced the idea that dragons could be tamed.
Early Ice Age trailers, commercials, and ads depict Scrat as a member of the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, when in reality Scrat doesn't actually travel or interact with the group, save for one brief moment in the middle of the film when they ask him for directions. The trailers also omit the villains and some of the heavier elements.
In The Incredibles, like other trailers for Pixar films, the trailer is basically a sketch that doesn't appear in the film, but the trailer is also deliberately misleading in that it changes all the memorabilia in Bob's office to indicate that he has always worn the red Mr. Incredible suit, as opposed to the blue one.
All of the trailers for Kung Fu Panda made it out to be a slapstick, comedic parody in the same vein as most of Dreamworks's animated features. Granted, this could be excused by the fact that the title character is voiced by Jack Black - but considering his usual style of acting and choice in film roles, this would seem to be a very strong example of Misaimed Marketing twice over. Most fans of Jack Black's usual work would not go to see him in an animated feature, and most parents would not want their kids to see an animated feature which starred Jack Black. In any case, the movie instead turned out to be a pretty serious, epic action film with almost mythic proportions at times.
The comedy was all still there, but spaced out and used as comic relief to lighten the tension. Which means people coming to the film solely for Jack Black comedy were probably disappointed, and those who might have enjoyed the action never got a chance to see it because they were driven away by the trailers.
The trailers for the sequel gave it the same treatment, as the trailers were high on zaniness, fat jokes and anachronistic music, but somewhat lacking in genocide, stabbings and mental trauma.
The trailer for the DVD release was deceptive in an entirely different way. While it has a surprisingly serious and dramatic tone, it tells a story that is completely different from the film's actual plot. This includes a line where Po declares "I'm not the last panda!" while showing a clip of the lost panda village seen at the very end of the film, implying that this is far more relevant to the plot than it actually is (i.e. not at all, it appears only as a Sequel Hook).
The film trailer actually did something similar. There's an added line where Shifu says something like "Our greatest masters are disappearing. I fear this is the work of Lord Shen". In actuality, only one master "disappears", there's absolutely no mystery as to why, and it only happens because he was in Shen's way.
Let's not forget how some trailers made a total mockery of Lord Shen ("A peacock?"), making him out to be a complete joke of a villain. He's actually an extremely competent genocidal maniac.
Some of the theatrical trailers from The Land Before Time show a couple of clips from the deleted footage (which fans are still to this day desperately wanting to see).
This is one of many reasons why some people detest the Ralph Bakshi adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: Granted, you might think it's a decent adaptation of the story on its own merits, even though it neglects Return of the King and only adapts the first book and half of the second book. However, the preview material never revealed this, so those in the audience who were expecting any kind of closure to the story after sitting on their asses for two hours had to leave the theaters with an aching pair of blue balls. This was due to Executive Meddling; the original title was supposed to be The Lord of the Rings Part I.
Early trailers for Megamind do this as well, obscuring the fact that Megamind defeats Metro Man in the first act, with the rest of the movie pretty much having him ask "And Then What?" All of them make out the most part of the movie is about Megamind vs. Metro Man, but it's more a romantic action-comedy with Megamind vs. himself and Titan. It also kind of makes Metro Man look a bit of a glory-hound jerk.
Dreamworks' Monsters vs. Aliens made it out to be far zanier than it really was, and obscured Susan's status as the main character and instead played her condition for far more humor than in the movie itself.
This seems standard for Dreamworks now, as the early trailers and promotion for How to Train Your Dragon also tried (not very successfully, considering the box office opening) to make it out to be a zany Dreamworks comedy, when it is actually a fantasy adventure story; its humour is incidental to the plot. It wasn't until the final trailer that the promotion became more honest about the film's dramatic elements.
The teaser trailer for Mulan makes the film seem slightly more dramatic and action-packed than it really is.
Television ads for Disney's dub of Ponyo play up most of the comedy bits and even use the last few seconds of the film out of context. Also, the commercials use bits of dialogue both out of context and played over completely different scenes than they are in the actual film. (No, fish!Ponyo does not say "I will be a human too!" while still in the bucket.)
Also, there's a part where Ponyo's mother calls "Good luck Ponyo!" while in the movie she actually says "Good luck Lisa", to Satsuke's mother.
Also, the teaser trailer made it seem as if Ponyo's father tells her that she is the only one who can save the world, and then releases her, and her wave running somehow is related to said world-saving. In the movie, the lines her father says are actually directed to Satsuke (who can save the world only by accepting Ponyo) and the wave running has nothing to do with Ponyo saving the world.
The trailer for The Prince of Egypt implied it as a very action-oriented animated movie. It wasn't of course - it was a religious story about everything from the birth of Moses to parting the Red Sea. But then, if someone made it all the way from the first press releases to opening day without ever deducing that it was a film about the story of Moses: frankly, they deserved to be let down.
At least one newspaper claimed it was the most violent animated movie of the decade, and that young children would be turned off by the blood and the violence. The reviewer was being a bit sensationalistic, though; while it doesn't sugarcoat the Biblical story of Moses or the darker turns it takes, the only blood in the movie comes from when the Nile is turned into a river of it.
Ratatouille has a teaser trailer that made the film look like more a traditional cartoon story, with Remy stealing cheese from the dining area of Gusteau's. It gives the impression that the viewer is in for some Tom-and-Jerry antics, instead of a story of a rat who wants to make food, not steal it.
On the whole, Pixar teaser trailers are best viewed as little self-contained skits, since they usually consist of footage which doesn't actually feature in the film itself, whilst revealing very little about the plot. The first Pixar film to do this was A Bug's Life. Since then, every Pixar trailer contains footage not seen in the film or unrelated to the main plot.
From watching the trailers or paying attention to any of the marketing for Shrek the Third, one would think that the movie was about Shrek and Fiona having a ton of babies and Shrek having to learn to be a father. Wrong. The movie is about Shrek trying to find the only remaining heir to Fiona's parents' kingdom, and the baby thing is a minor reason behind it. All in all, about a minute and a half of the movie involves ogre babies—one Nightmare Sequence about halfway through (which shows dozens of babies, which is what most of the marketing drew its material from) and a short sequence at the very end of the movie where Shrek and Fiona have three children. That's all. But when you look at all of the promo merchandise, from fast-food toys to collectible glasses with pictures of ogre babies pasted all over them, that'd be a bit hard to deduce.
In the UK, the trailers, standees and the title all implied the movie would be about Shrek being king. Shrek is King for a few short visual gags at the beginning before he sets out on his quest to find the true heir.
Shrek 2 did this too. The trailers made it look like the "Happily Ever After Potion" was entirely Played for Laughs. While the part with Donkey turning into a stallion (which was the only part shown in the trailer) certainly was, that's only half of it: its effects on Shrek and Fiona were very much Played for Drama. Not to mention Donkey's "Gimme that bottle!" line was taken way out of context.
In addition, the trailer (via some spliced footage and audio) showed Shrek in ogre form when discovering that Donkey transformed into a stallion. In the actual film, they transform at the same time.
The Sleeping Beauty Platinum Edition DVD has 8.5% wider picture compared to the Special Edition DVD from five years earlier. Some promos exaggerated the difference by putting a clip or still from the Platinum Edition up against a picture trimmed even more heavily than on the Special Edition DVD.
Trailers and commercials included jokes and scenes not seen in the movie. Some added completely new voiceovers that made it seem as if the plot of the film was that Rapunzel had escaped, and guards were attempting to put her back in the tower.
Like the Sweeney Todd example below, ads and trailers made no indication to the film being a musical.
One trailer showed Rapunzel with Prehensile Hair that could grab and attack a character on its own. Other trailers showed her using the hair to close doors and windows. In the film, the hair has none of these properties, and actually has to be carried by characters throughout, as it is liable to getting caught on objects as it drags across the ground.
By playing up some Subverted Tropes and the one scene in the film where Rapunzel overpowers the main male character, while using a punk-pop song by singer P!nk, the trailers led some to believe it was a Dreamworks-style parody of traditional fairy tales, rather than a fairly straight-forward version of the story that updates Rapunzel to an Action Girl.
Good god, TMNT was bad about this. The trailers, marketing, and even his own voice actor stated that Max Winters was the main villain, and from the looks of things he was trying to unleash a bunch of horrific monsters on the world. Winters is really The Atoner who already unleashed the monsters centuries ago and was now trying to stop them, something that's made clear as early as the first five minutes.
In the trailer for Toy Story, there is a clip where Buzz Lightyear says, "You're mocking me, aren't you?" and pushes a tool box off a shelf and onto Woody. Given the context of the prior scenes shown, it seemed as though Buzz was getting revenge. In the actual context of the scene, Buzz was really trying to help Woody escape (he continued to push the tool box without knowing that Woody managed to get out), and the real line he says was "Almost... there..." The line as said in the trailer was actually used earlier on in the film, around the point where Sid was introduced. On a similar note, a TV spot had Buzz saying "I changed my laser from stun to kill" and Woody replying "Oh great, now we can blink them to death" edited into the scene where they are riding on RC and being chased by Sid's dog.
One of the trailers also has Bo Peep hitting on Woody, followed directly by Buzz saying "Don't even think about it, cowboy!" This makes it seem as though they fight over Bo, which they never do.
The trailer for Toy Story 3 hid the darker elements of the plot and made it look like the film was going to have the happy tone of the last two films, while the real plot was an emotional rollercoaster.
On top of this, one trailer implied that the toys were being involuntarily donated by Andy, and that Woody was trying to calm them down - when actually the toys chose to be donated against Andy's wishes and Woody was trying to convince them it was a bad idea. Another trailer implied that the reason they had to reset Buzz was because he crashed on his dangerous attempt to escape from the caterpillar room when actually that attempt was successful, and there was a... more sinister reason.
Some trailers also used the Fisher-Price phone's line "You and your friends ain't ever getting out of here now" in a completely different context, to make it seem as though he was a villain or at least trying to discourage Woody. In the actual film, the phone is a heroic character and helps the toys escape from Sunnyside.
The trailer for the Pixar movie WALL•E made the movie look like an action adventure movie in which the last robot on Earth must save the planet. It's actually a love story about two robots who find love. Oh yeah, and the trailer also advertised Captain McCrea as a villain, as a made-for-trailer quote in his voice says, "Arrest that robot!"
The trailers for Wreck-It Ralph, and much of its advertisements, really puts emphasis on all those easily-recognised villains at the Bad-Anon meeting, suggesting they will be reforming or rebelling against... being bad, and maybe even that the characters we think of as heroes are secretly jerks. But they're basically cameos, and the story is actually Ralph accepting himself, and his big-brother relationship with Vanellope - who is barely shows in trailers, despite being the co-star.
Films — Live-Action
Film in general
A lot of trailers end up with scenes that don't make it into the final movie, because the final cut of the movie isn't done when the trailer is made. In some cases, the trailer looks like it has scenes from the movie but doesn't. For example, the trailer for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was shot on the film's set with the film's actors, but the footage was intended solely for the trailer and does not appear in the film at all.
A trailer for The Pagemaster showed Macaulay Culkin's character receiving a sword that floated down from the library ceiling. It was really cool looking, but wasn't in the film at all. This caused the Latin American title to become... "El Espadachín Valiente" (The Brave Swordsboy)
Some of the trailers for Superman Returns showed the destruction of Krypton, and a shot of Clark's ship travelling over rough terrain. In the final cut, the story picks up after he arrives on Earth.
The teaser trailer for Cocoon II: The Return showed Jack Bonner sleeping on his boat. A bright light shone down from above, and he got up, parted the curtains on his window and looked out at the blinding light. This scene never appeared in the movie, and in fact contradicted what we actually ended up seeing.
And he had a completely different boat in the movie, too.
Apocalypto, Hero, and Brotherhood of the Wolf all suffer the same problem of there being no indication in the trailer the movie is subtitled. It's amazing how angry people get in a theater when they're forced to read subtitles. (This varies by country.)
Hero is later dubbed in English, with Jet Li voicing his own character.
Tyler Perry's trailers always sell the slapstick comedy of the Madea character and conceal the fact that other characters are usually the actual main characters and the plots often feature very heavy-handed drama focusing on such uncomedic issues as domestic abuse. Often, Madea has little to do with anything actually happening, or her actions have no bearing on the plot.
Holds true for any film done by Perry; no matter what the actual subject matter, it will (largely) always be cut to make it seem like romantic-comedy, high on comedy.
Any trailer for a movie with a gay male main character or gay male main plot will not include the character's sexuality in the trailer, even if it is the crux of the film, and if possible, will show the main character kissing a woman, even if it was just a scene that is taken out of context to mislead audiences into thinking it is yet another heterosexual romance movie. This usually does not apply to lesbians. Examples include, but are not limited to:
ABC Family, a network aimed at a young-female audience, promotes the movies they air as romantic comedies, even if they aren't. If there is a sexy-star-before-he/she-became-a-sexy-star, they will always promote them as the leads. As a result, the poor, unfortunate viewer watching Remember the Titans expecting it to be a love story starring Ryan Gosling and Kate Bosworth will be seriously disappointed (see also: Billing Displacement).
Recent commercials on ABC Family seem to be trying to imply that their premiere Van Helsing is a supernatural Twilight-esque romance, rather than the action film it really is.
See also their Batman Beginspromo, which treats it as an inspirational story rather than the dark character study it really is.
Any preview with Jack Nicholson (such as Anger Management) looks like it would have clever lines. He just has to smile in front of the camera and it's implied there will be some cleverness. Unfortunately, the person who makes the preview knows this as well. Jack Nicholson should be considered false advertising.
This happens with a lot of films with slower paces, and Indie films. Not always because of intentional false advertising, but because the modern trailer format (many, very short clips) isn't conducive to explaining plots of this kind.
The trailer for 9 1/2 Weeks promotes the film as being a lighthearted romance about two people having the best weeks of their lives falling in love. The film itself is much darker and more brutal than that.
This sort of backfired for the movie Forty Days And Forty Nights. The trailer and TV spots had the main character Matt state "No sex for Lent." Cue everybody who does not have sex at least once every forty days roll their eyes and lose interest. The commercials also made it look like it was a light romantic comedy or a chick flick where the guy meets a nice girl. What the commercials omit is that he was supposed to not have sex for Lent, or do anything remotely sexual, which probably would have made Matt more sympathetic to audiences. Not to mention a large part of the plot is that his friends are taking bets on whether he will make it which causes more problems when various people try to win the bet.
The original teaser did flat-out state, "No self-gratification" and even "no kissing". Maybe it was the only one.
The trailer for About Time suggests that Tim and Mary's entire relationship is eradicated from the timeline, but actually it's only their first meeting.
Admission's trailer is all about an uptight college admissions officer (Tina Fey) meeting an easy-going alternative school principal (Paul Rudd) and falling in love, with an odd moment where she really wants to hold a woman's baby. That's actually important since the reason he wanted to meet her in the first place was because one of his students is the son she gave up for adoption in college, which is either glossed over or not mentioned at all in the trailers.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle had trailers where Bullwinkle said the lines: "I'm King of the world!" and "What's uuuuup?" It's likely these lines were going to be used in the film but got removed so the film wouldn't seem too dated.
Adventureland. Some people thought it was going to be a raunchy teen comedy, and that the trailer that played on Oxygen which played up the romance was the one that lied—after all, it surely must be yet another Token Romance, right? Turns out, their relationship does drive the movie, and the movie as a whole was much more subtle and melancholy than was advertised. It was an excellent movie, but don't go in expecting Superbad set in an amusement park.
One of the most notorious cases of this trope was an early, early teaser trailer for Alien³. It showed an Alien egg floating towards Earth with the line, "In 1979, we discovered in space, no one can hear you scream. In 1992, we would discover on Earth, everyone can hear you scream..." This was all based upon a very early spec script. By the time the movie was actually made, the final film was... a little different. (Sure, the Aliens would eventually get to Earth, just not exactly the way most fans would have liked.)
The trailer for Alien vs. Predator showed an epic moment where three predators were fighting off a handful of aliens. But as the camera moved back that handful turned to thousands of aliens. While this is in the movie, it is only shown in a flashback as one of the main character theorizes that's what had happened in ancient times. The movies also made the plot go along the lines of badass hunter vs badass creature, with poor humans thrown in the middle. The first Predator dies without any real screen time against an Alien. And the third gets impregnated by a facehugger, setting up the plot for the second movie. The only time Aliens and Predators fought was with the second Predator, but that fight was one of the most amazing fights in cinematic history.
The trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man include voice-overs of lines that don't occur in the movie, including lines hinting at plots that didn't occur in the film at all. "Do you think what happened to you, Peter, was an accident? Do you have any idea what you really are?" Nothing related to this line appears in the film.
It's been hinted that these were cut, due to negative fan reception about the "secret story" concept.
Or how about Conners tempting Peter with news about his parents.
In yet another example involving George Clooney, The American was promoted as an action-packed thriller in the vein of the Bourne films. It's actually a very introspective drama about the life of a hired assassin, punctuated only by brief bursts of action.
Annapolis is implied to be a Full Metal Jacket style film about a U.S. Navy trainee that struggles in the face of a vicious, brutal academy, before being deployed to on his first mission. The "difficult training" aspect is actually in the film... for about the first 20 minutes. Then the remainder is actually about a boxing tournament at the academy. Also there are war scenes in the trailer that are not in the actual film.
The trailer for Arachnophobia used lighthearted music and put major focus on John Goodman's role as a quirky exterminator, making it look to be a lighthearted comedy. Turns out that while there are comedic scenes, the film is basically nightmare fuel (or considering the film is about spiders, would that be nightmare venom?)
The trailer for the Arthur remake has this pretty bad. The trailer makes it look like Jennifer Garner is playing the Liza Minnelli role and a random actress in one scene is playing the fiancee. In actuality, Jennifer Garner is playing the fiancée and Greta Gerwig (who appears in a grand total of one shot in the trailer) plays the actual love interest.
As Good As It Gets looked like it would have had a George Carlin type character using more cynical observations and one liners than the one in the preview. The subplot hijacking the main plot didn't help.
The trailers for August: Osage County depict it as a heartwarming comedy-drama about a family who bicker but love each other deep down. In the actual film, the family genuinely hate each other, and most of them suffer sad and depressing fates because of what they did to each other.
The Avengers will become the first Marvel movie released through Walt Disney Pictures, but all publicity material released so far boasts the Paramount logo. Paramount would have distributed the movie, as they did Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, if not for Disney buying distribution rights in October 2010. Sources claim that fears exist regarding the possibility that the sight of Disney's logo in Avengers trailers would turn away comic fans who still oppose the Disney/Marvel merger. (Paramount will get paid for the usage of their Vanity Plate.)
That claim would be plausible except for the fact that Paramount also owns the pay cable rights (which is set for Epix instead of Starz, who airs all Disney titles).
This now extends to the film itself, as the Walt Disney Pictures logo is nowhere to be seen during the opening credits.
As for the actual film's content itself, one of the trailers features Tony Stark listing off his fellow Avengers, including himself. In the actual movie, Stark never lists himself in the headcount, and even lists off the deceased Phil Coulson instead.
A Back to the Future 3 trailer included what appeared to be Marty shooting at Doc Brown, knocking his hat off, which turns out to be two unrelated bits of the film.
The first film was released at a time where the most successful comedies were raunchy R-rated affairs. Thus, many trailers featured the line "You mean my mom has the hots for me?!" to make it seem like such a film with a science fiction element, when the film is much more of a sci-fi comedy for all audiences with that mom thing being a subplot. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have spoken negatively about this in interviews.
Bandslam is actually more of an indie coming of age teen dramedy like Juno or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, not the spiritual sequel to the High School Musical franchise the trailers made it out to be. A serious backfire, as the film seriously bombed despite relatively good reviews.
In the UK, early TV spots for Beastly tried to make it look like Twilight by making the main character look like a supernatural being instead of a human under a curse.
The trailers for Beetlejuice make Michael Keaton appear to be the main character, even making him sound like the top-billed star. In reality, the lead characters are Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin. While the film is named after Beetlejuice, and the character is a major driving force of the plot, Keaton has only 20 minutes of screen time.
In yet another example of a non-comedy starring a comedian marketed as a comedy, there's the 1994 Robin Williams film Being Human (no relation). The trailer made it look like it was going to be another one of those "sweet-but-unlucky Robin" movies, and hey, the premise was the story of the same man through different periods of history, that makes for good comedy. But the movie was really a drama. And it was boring. And now it's more or less forgotten.
The trailer to Be Kind Rewind has Jack Black saying "I've got another idea, follow me" placed after Mos Def realizing that his tapes have been wiped. Since Jack's character is crazy, it sounds sensible to think he comes up with the Zany Scheme... until you watch the film and find that it's Mos who comes up with the idea. Jack's line is in there... just before he drags a Hollywood Homely into their scheme so he doesn't have to awkwardly kiss his mechanic.
Heck, the fact that the trailer concentrates solely on the sweding, and not at all on the Fats Waller and community spirit angles. The trailer made it appear that the major plotline of the movie was an idiot comedy about Jack Black and Mos Def trying to keep their neighbors from figuring out that the sweded films aren't the originals.
The trailer for the movie version of Bicentennial Man made it look like a goofy comedy about a family and their robot. All clips were taken from either the first fifteen minutes or so or a single 4-5 minute comedic sequence later on in the two-hour romantic drama.
Although you can't really blame the producers since even they knew they had a turkey on their hands.
Black Swan. Nearly every clip in the trailer is used in entirely different context in the film itself.
UK trailers for The Blind Side contain nary a hint of a sporting connection. Now that takes some doing.
The trailer for the 1945 film The Body Snatcher emphasizes that it stars both famed horror actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. While Karloff does have a prominent role, Lugosi has a minor part as a janitor.
The trailer for Boogie Nights made it look like a constantly fun, largely dance-oriented romp with lots of sex thrown in for good measure. The film is a very great deal more dark and downbeat than that and there isn't all that much dancing.
The Book of Eli is a fairly understated, slow-burn drama about the different attitudes towards faith of two men, with a couple of (extremely brief) skirmishes and a scene of a siege in an old house. The trailer sets it up as an action packed Fallout 3-esque series of blades, blood and exploding trucks, using pretty much all of the combat footage in the entire film spliced together.
The trailer for The Boondock Saints includes a clip of Willem Dafoe's character saying "This could just be the first international mob war," or something to that effect. That line is indeed in the movie, but then three minutes later his theory is shot down.
A TV spot on the Sci-Fi Channel for Brazil consisted entirely of scenes from Sam's dream sequences, without any hint of the Orwellian future the movie actually takes place in.
The trailer for Bridesmaids makes it look like a typical raunchy comedy with the same two jokes used over and over: Kristen Wiig is single and Kristen Wiig is an alcoholic. The actual film is much deeper and quite depressing at times but still manages to be funny (there is also more of a variety in humor).
Fans of the book will know Bridge to Terabithia is not a fantasy adventure story, as depicted in the trailers for the movie, but more of a tale about bonding between two friends. The screenwriters have stated that they are not pleased with the way the film was marketed, and the actual movie is much more faithful to the book.
Despite winning widespread critical acclaim including a perfect "4" from reviewer Roger Ebert and still having a 70+ Rotten Tomatoes score, Scorcese's Bringing Out The Dead is one of history's biggest ever movie bombs, with a net loss of over $32 million. It was felt that its marketing portrayed it too much as a Sixth Sense-style supernatural I-see-dead-people plot, which it very much wasn't (the marketing clearly missed the point). It's probably one of the most critically acclaimed movies ever to reach the other wiki's "List of biggest box office bombs".
The trailer for Bronco Billy made it look like a pure comedy, adding silly music and cartoon sound effects, as did the rest of the marketing. But the IMDB doesn't list it as a comedy, and they're right. With Clint Eastwood starring and directing, it's so much more serious than it looks.
The film adaptation of the play Bug is a psychological thriller about a woman getting a new boyfriend and going insane. Yet, it was advertised as a horror film about bugs underneath your skin... and the film suffered because of it.
The marketing for Bunny and the Bull made it look like a zany Road Movie comedy, and a pretty weak spin-off of The Mighty Boosh to boot (every single trailer and advertisement reminded us not-so-subtly that it was by the director of the Boosh, and featured the shows' lead actors, Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt). This probably made BATB more successful in the UK than it would otherwise have been, as the Mighty Boosh has a dedicated enough following to give pretty much anything associated with it a sizable popularity boost. But it was still hugely misrepresented by its advertising, and was far more dark, gritty and sombre in tone and content than the Boosh had ever been. There were humorous moments, but to call it a comedy would be wildly inaccurate. Also, Barratt and Fielding were not major characters (as the adverts seemed to suggest) and had only relatively small cameos. It was actually still a very good film on its own account, but some of those who went into it expecting "Mighty Boosh: The Movie" were sorely disappointed.
The trailers for Buried depicted the film as being a Saw-esque thrill ride. It's really more of an arthouse-type thriller in the vein of Hitchcock's Rope with Ryan Reynolds being the only actor onscreen. Not surprisingly, there were many walkouts at showings from people being fooled by the marketing and the film never went past limited release.
One scene in the trailer shows Reynolds realising that a person on the phone knows his name despite his not having given it. The trailer frames it as a shocking revelation (the sort you wouldn't want spoiled by a trailer, frankly). In the film it turns out there's a wholly mundane explanation, which is provided almost immediately.
The Cabin in the Woods: It's a Deconstructive Parody of horror films. It's advertised as a straight horror film. Ironically, this is one of the few films where it could be argued that this is exactly the mindset the viewer should have before watching the film.
Neil Simon's California Suite combines comedy and drama as it tracks several sets of characters, one of which is a couple whose marriage is going down in flames. The film was advertised as a straight comedy, focusing on the funnier storylines with none of the anguish even mentioned.
The trailer for The Campaign, as with most trailers for R-rated comedies, tones down the language a little and has some instances of Curse Cut Short and other creative editing, including the line "I let the goat lick my wiener", which in the film itself is "I let the goat lick my penis". The biggest difference is a scene where Marty shoots Cam in the leg on a hunting excursion. In the trailer, it's with a crossbow but in the film, it's with an actual hunting rifle.
The scene in the bookstore is removed, but was included as a deleted scene on the 10th anniversary special edition Blu-ray.
The scene where Jason Segel's character runs in with a watermelon he filled with vodka was removed, as were many other drug-related scenes, to get a PG-13 rating. Jason Segel's character's screen time was dramatically cut down in the final film because of this.
The scene where Charlie Korsmo's character proclaims that he couldn't feel his legs was a different take of the scene that made it into the movie.
Case 39's trailer essentially gives the plot to a completely different movie: it insinuates that the young girl protagonist is stalked by a demonic force when in reality she IS the demonic force, and several scenes in the trailer are, like many examples before it, not in the film or there in a completely different context. There's one which states that the church has investigated 38 cases of supernatural activity, and this is the 39th... no church plays any part in the film, and it's called that because it's a social worker's 39th case. It's so overt that Phelous even comments on it in his review of it.
The trailer for Casper (1995) showed various scenes featuring Casper's hyperactive uncles, letting on that they were the main antagonists and the plot would be mostly them battling the human protagonists.
Casshern is a slow, plodding Deconstruction of the Toku genre and carries a strong message about the pointlessness of violence. The trailer features about 50% of the film's action however, so one might watch it expecting 90 minutes of crazy robot killing.
Catfish's trailer is so notoriously misleading it has become fairly famous for it. It markets the film as a mockumentary-style thriller. The actual story is a bit less exciting: The woman met on Facebook is actually a middle-aged woman who has created several false personas on the internet. A bit of a twist, but hardly a Hitchockian thriller as it was promoted.
Trailers for Chasing Amy make it look like the plot is a man fruitlessly chasing after a lesbian (who isn't even named Amy, as it turns out); he gets her halfway through, and the bulk of the movie is an exploration of sexual self-definition.
Trailers made Click out to be another low brow Adam Sandler comedy. In actuality, it is quite the Tear Jerker, about a man being forced to skip through his own life as he grows old and dies.
The trailer for Close Encounters of the Third Kind includes a scene where Air Traffic Control is trying to contact an airliner which has just had a near-miss with a mysterious object, asking them if they want to report a UFO. There's no reply, only a long silence, making the audience think that the airliner has been snatched or even destroyed by the object. In the actual film, the crew eventually do respond: they've been thinking over whether making a UFO report is worth the trouble.
The trailer for Cold Creek Manor made it seem like the house was haunted. Instead, it was just some crazy guy messing with the family (when we want both, we know where to go).
The trailer for the 1986 Troma film Combat Shock toted it as being a Rambo-style bloodbath, though the film itself was more of a psychological horror.
Troma likes to do this on all of their movies. Mostly because they want to the biggest audience possible but also because Lloyd Kaufman likes to play jokes on the viewers.
The trailer for the movie Congo claims that the adventurers will find the missing link between man and ape. Of course no such thing happens.
The trailer for the Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan film Cop Out gave the impression that Willis was a gritty longtime cop unwillingly saddled with a goofy new partner, or even that Morgan was not actually a real cop. In fact both characters are veterans and have been working together for a long time, and Morgan's character (though indeed the less gritty of the two) is still definitely a proper detective.
The trailers for Copycat make it appear that Daryll Lee Callum (Harry Connick, Jr.) is the Big Bad of the movie and the copycat of the title. In reality, aside from the prologue, Callum spends the entire movie in prison.
The trailer for Cry_Wolf is almost entirely comprised of footage that isn't in the film itself, in an apparent attempt to market it as a PG-13 slasher film. The mild rating is actually justified in the film itself, as it's more murder mystery than slasher and one of the biggest questions is whether or not anyone has been killed at all.
The trailer for Cyrus makes it seem like much more of a laugh out loud comedy than it really is. The actual movie, while not devoid of humour, is more of a low key, downbeat drama about lonely damaged people.
The trailer for the Kurt Russell cop thriller Dark Blue does it in a twofold manner. First by making the movie seem like a non-stop urban action movie, while it's a character study of an incredibly dirtyCowboy Cop (Russell) with a deteriorating private life and investigations into his professional conduct who slowly comes to see the error of his ways, and how his lifestyle and those of others like him had a helping hand in shaping the social climate in Los Angeles prior to the 1992 riots. Second by significantly overstatingVing Rhames' role and presenting him as the main antagonist. Funny enough, the poster gives a much better indication of the film's content.
A television commercial for Batman Begins attempted to appeal to female audiences by playing Nickelback's "Someday" over shots of Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes looking at each other longingly. Not only did the TV spot spoil one of the climactic scenes of the movie (revealing that Wayne Manor gets torched), but it played up the expectation that the entire film was a love story with a bit of action on the side.
While not terribly misleading, one trailer for The Dark Knight makes it look as though the Joker causes a truck to flip just by firing a machine gun. The two moments happen during the same scene, but the one of the Joker shooting with the submachine gun happens after the truck flips over, and he's firing at cars on the street.
Editing also made some parts of the Joker's dialogue misleading — in the actual movie his line "It's all part of the plan" is part of his monologue about how people like order (while he never has a plan) and the part where he says "And here... we... go" followed by an exploding building was from the scene where he's EXPECTING an explosion and is disappointed.
The dramatic exchange between Bruce and Alfred regarding the latter swearing to protect Bruce and failing does not come up in the actual scene. Alfred utters similar lines, though, at the film's finale.
The trailers make it appear that Selina Kyle and Bane are close allies, but in reality she's more or less blackmailed and intimidated into giving him occasional help.
One trailer has Selina's line "You don't owe these people any more. You've given them everything!", which she says when she is mounting the Batpod. Given the above lie, you'd be forgiven for thinking Selina utters the line in defiance. In fact, she is pleading desperately for Batman to not potentially risk himself in vain. That said, Batman's line "Not everything... not yet" carries the exact same meaning in both the trailers and the final product in that he knows the people still need a true legend.
In an example of Never Trust a Leak, one of Selina's lines, when leaked out of context, made fans assume that she'd be allied with Bane. In reality, she says the line to deceive the actual flunkies of Bane.
Hines Ward, when outrunning the imploding field, doesn't drop his football in shock in the final film.
In one trailer, Bane says "Let the games begin" when he's about to fight Batman. In the final film, he says this when he and his men are about to press the detonators that will blow up the football stadium and the bridges.
The shots of the Bat and placement of Selina's and Bruce's banter inside it make it seem as if it's involved only in the climax of the film. It actually debuts very early, when Batman is rescuing Selina from Bane right after the Stock Exchange attack.
Bane's "when Gotham is ashes" line is said more slower and has a word or two added to it.
One scene from the trailers portrays a Tumbler firing on the final battle between Bane's forces and the GCPD cops. This is a subversion: no such scene actually appears in the movie, although a similar scene appears in the script.
Television ads for the Day the Earth Stood Still remake have the tagline promise that humanity will heroically "Fight Back!" Really. In reverse, some of the ads imply that humanity is completely and totally doomed, and there is no point trying to fight back, making Klaatu look invincible.
All of the trailers for Dazed and Confused depict it as a Stoner Flick. In the actual film, only one character (a supporting character) is actually a stoner and instead the film is a coming of age film about different types of people in different cliques (much of it told from the point of view of a 15 year old).
The Deconstructing Harry trailer made the film out to be about Woody Allen dying and going to a Hell run by Billy Crystal as Satan. The film is about no such thing and the one (1) Hell scene is a fantasy sequence showing you an idea for a novel that Woody's character Harry is describing to other people. Billy Crystal plays Satan in this scene because his actual character in the film is someone Harry hates.
Defendor was marketed as a family-friendly comedy in the trailers, but the actual movie dealt with the implications of heroism, drug abuse, and prostitutes.
The trailer for Desperate Measures made Michael Keaton's character out to be, literally, Satan himself. His statements, "I cannot be killed; I am immortal," and, "What are you going to do, shoot me, Frank...?" were taken viciously out of context to this end, with the trailer-makers even going so far as to use an electronic distortion effect to make the latter line sound like it was spoken in a suddenly deep and clearly inhuman voice. In actual fact the Keaton character is just a brilliantly devious human sociopath and the film has absolutely no supernatural angle whatsoever, even in subtext. A second trailer portrayed the film properly as the cat-and-mouse between the cop with a sick son and the criminal he has to keep alive in order to save him (since he's a match for a bone marrow transplant).
Diary of a Mad Black Woman does this. The entire trailer portrays the antics of a crazy, elderly black woman, so the movie's title makes it seem like they're talking about a crazy black woman. Couldn't be farther from the truth; the only way those clips have any plot relevance is that the black woman seen in the trailer has a minor part in the plot. The movie is actually about a black woman who's angry (aka, "mad") at her husband for cheating on her and throwing her out of the house, and her schemes at getting back at him.
To elaborate, the majority of the trailer shows the Tyler Perry character Madea, and her typical smart-ass comments. However, the actual story involved her granddaughter Helen. In fact, all of Madea's scenes in the trailer were almost all of her scenes in the movie.
Die Hard 2: The main trailer plays around with this. Early on it shows a group of soldiers loading their weapons and donning face masks while sinister music plays, implying they're the terrorists trying to take over the airport. They're actually a platoon called in to take the terrorists down and the sequence is when they're preparing to go into combat with them. However, it turns out that they're in league with the terrorists and the "combat" they launch into is completely staged, which means this is actually a case of stealth foreshadowing.
Django Unchained's trailers make it out to be an action-heavy Western about two bounty hunters killing their way up to the Big Bad. Just like Inglourious Basterds, however, the film itself is much more slow-moving and suspenseful, with bounty hunting taking a backseat during the second half of the film. It also implies the Brittle Brothers work directly for Candy, the Big Bad, when in reality, they're easily dispatched in Django's first successful bounty and have no relation to Candy - and Candy himself is a dimwitted idiot who's really manipulated by his slave, the real villain.
A trailer for The Diary of Anne Frank shown on TCM spun it as an uplifting romance. The fact that they were hiding from the Nazis was given only a token nod at the beginning.
The trailer for the made for TV film Disaster on the Coastliner shows two trains colliding head on. The collision does not occur in the actual film.
The trailer for District 9 implies that the aliens just want to go home, and the humans won't let them. Sure, in the film the aliens are shoved into a slum, but the 'going home' sentiment just isn't there among most of them. Plus, the scene featuring an alien being interrogated isn't in the film and was fabricated totally for the trailer.
Trailers for Donnie Darko made it seem like the film was about an insane, homicidal teenager. Though the film teases the possibility that Donnie is crazy, it's a minor undercurrent.
The trailers make Drag Me to Hell look like a straight horror film when it is really a horror-comedy in the vein of the Evil Dead movies. The fact that it's directed by Sam Raimi, however, might be a tip-off....
One woman felt that this trope warranted a lawsuit when she felt misled by the trailer for Drive - which, in her opinion, had little to do with driving cars really fast and more to do with anti-Semitism.
Duck, You Sucker!, Sergio Leone's last spaghetti Western, was marketed as a lighthearted action/adventure Western set during the Mexican revolution. The film starts off this way, initially centering around a bandit managing to get an Irish explosives expert to help him rob a bank. Then of course the aforementioned bank turns out to be a political prison, and John had tricked him into liberating a bunch of revolutionaries, making him a hero. After that point... let's just say it gets pretty brutal.
It's ironic when one considers that some of the more brutal moments are actually shown in the trailers (among them a particularly unnerving scene where hundreds of revolutionaries are forced into ghettos, with soldiers standing on each side shooting them), and they still managed to make it look like it was fairly light-hearted.
Dead Man Down trailers made you believe a slow, gritty revenge flick of a scarred woman (Noomi Rapace) blackmailing a gangster's (Terrance Howard) number two (Colin Farrell) to help kill him for what happened to her face, while at the same time falling in love before it all goes to hell. In the film, the Rapace has no real purpose to the overall story, Farrell is trying to get his own revenge on Howard for unrelated reasons, and is structured no where near as fluidly as the trailer would have you believe.
The trailer for Elysium heavily implies that Max's exosuit is what gives him the ability to override Elysium's system. It doesn't, but the virus it lets him download from Carlyle's brain does. It also implies some shots of Kruger are actually of Max (such as Kruger's Power Walk when he begins the coup and specifically starts gunning for Max), and that Kruger is assisting the hero. The trailer also implied that Max's exosuit can remotely crash a ship, which was just gesture by Kruger (activating sticky homing explosives).
The early teaser trailers for ET The Extra Terrestrial focused on the creepy alien POV sequence from the woodland escape scene, complete with chilling music and a creepy atmosphere, which gave the impression that ET was to be a sci-fi horror film. To be fair, though, it originallywas.
The trailers and ads for Everybodys Fine make it out to be some kind of quirky, funny little indie film. Something the whole family can enjoy while in reality it was a sad drama.
The trailer for Face/Off begins with Sean Archer (when he's being played by John Travolta) talking about how he's spent his career following and studying Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage). He concludes with "And now I've finally found a way to track him. I will become him," implying that he willingly takes on his enemy's appearance in order to find him. The film begins with Archer actually capturing Castor and putting him in a coma, and the face switch only happens because the FBI needs vital information from Troy's brother Pollux, and Archer reluctantly takes on the mission because he's the only one who can pass for Troy.
The movie Failure to Launch had one trailer that aired on male-centric channels such as Comedy Central, in which the entire trailer consisted of several guys getting attacked by animals in the woods. Anyone who saw only this trailer would never figure out by it that the movie is actually a romantic comedy, and that the forest scene barely takes up five minutes of the movie.
The film The Family Stone was advertised as a romantic comedy. It really isn't, being instead a family drama with a rather bittersweet angle. And while there's romance involved, it's not between the characters advertised in the trailer.
Just about all of the marketing for The Fast and the Furious promoted the car aspect and very little about the heist or the undercover cops. So if you came in expecting a movie about racing, prepare to be disappointed as that whole plot stops after the 30 minute mark.
The trailer for Fearless depicts an inspirational, life-affirming story of a man learning to live life to the fullest after surviving a catastrophe, complete with scenes of dancing and laughter set to U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name." In reality, the story is much darker in tone, focuses heavily on the grief of the survivors, and the protagonist is definitely not a happy man.
A TV spot for Fight Club portrayed it as a romantic comedy.
Most ads for Fight Club made it look like an action movie all about fighting (and the name certainly seems to back it up). Many theatergoers likely skipped it because of this, and were probably miffed when they realized it was something they might have liked.
Ironically, the author of the book stated in the foreword of a republishing of Fight Club that absolutely nobody noted that the novel was a romance; which in a really twisted way, it is.
The trailer for The Fighter makes you think that the film is going to quite similar to Rocky with Mark Wahlberg playing the Rocky character and Christian Bale being the Mickey/Paulie-type of character. Instead, it's a more depressing film where Wahlberg's character being The Woobie and always putting with abuse from his family and trying to ruin anything that makes him happy. The boxing and rags to riches scenes come later but it ends up taking a back seat to the family drama not seen in the trailer.
The message of the movie isn't revealed until right towards the very end, so the trailer isn't really lying.
Trailers for The Fountain make it look like an epic fantasy/sci-fi adventure, when in fact it is the tragic story of a man whose wife is dying of cancer. Anything supernatural that occurs is strongly implied to have taken place inside the heads of either the protagonist or his wife. note The film was originally going to be like this but its budget was hugely cut down. The film had a well-known graphic novel written beforehand that followed the sci-fi adventure plot
Many of the commercials for Four Brothers made it seem like a comedy, with a scene involving the death of a major character being taken out of context and Played for Laughs. The actual film was a very dark, gritty drama about a group of adopted siblings out for revenge against the man who murdered their foster mother, and the aforementioned scene was a tragic turning point in the story.
The theatrical trailer to Four Christmases made the film look like a It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-esque race to visit four families in time despite a canceled flight, when the actual premise of the movie is that they have to visit four families because of the canceled flight.
Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred. Aside from a brief clip of Fred trick-or-treating and getting eggs dumped on him by Kevin (which was a flashback), Nickelodeon's commercials for it were just made out of Fred's imagination sequences, making it seem like it was a Big Damn Movie about Fred battling vampires. It was actually a cliched plot about Fred thinking his new music teacher is a vampire, thoroughly disappointing 99% of the people who watched it the night it premiered.
On a related note, the 1981 horror-comedy Saturday the 14th was titled and marketed to make it sound like a parody of the above film series, but was a Monster Mash parody of Hammer Horror tropes.
The trailer for From Dusk Till Dawn notably plays up the second half when the vampires show up and makes it seem like the group gets to the bar early on, even though it doesn't happen until midway through the film. Additionally, the trailer makes it look both Gecko brothers and the Fullers team up to protect themselves from the vampires. Richie is actually the first to become bitten and eventually turned almost immediately when the vampires reveal themselves.
The trailer for Full Metal Jacket shows a bunch of short clips of battle scenes with a man providing an update on the war, and a few other random scenes of soldiers walking around implying that this is simply another Vietnam War film (and not even a terribly good one at that). If you'd never heard of Stanley Kubrick before seeing his name in the trailer, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a crappy b-movie trying to cash in on the success of Apocalypse Now or Platoon instead of an in-depth character study of how war causes people to gradually lose their humanity
The trailers also show nothing but men on the field. The whole first half of the movie involving R. Lee Ermey as a drill instructor turning a group of recruits into marines is completely absent. It's even more ironic when you consider the fact that the half of the film which the trailer ignores ended up being more famous than the later battlefield sequences.
TV spots for Judd Apatow's Funny People generally avoid (or at least vaguely hint at) Adam Sandler's fight with leukemia in the first half of the movie, and promotes as the typical feel-good comedy that you'd expect from the director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. It's a lot more serious than what the commercials made it out to be.
While trailers for Funny People keep the tone of a dramedy intact, they make the Leslie Mann relationship seem all too perfect for Adam Sandler and make Eric Bana seem like a total douche. This isn't true. They also exaggerate the romantic aspect with Mann's character, who is in about a third of the movie and somewhat downplay the relationship between Sandler and Rogen which makes up the bulk of the film.
A far more grievous example from the trailer of Funny People was the implication that Adam Sandler's cancer would only take up the first half hour or so and be a device to set up his "new lease on life" pursuit of Leslie Mann. Instead, his battle with cancer is long enough to constitute an entire film on its own.
The official trailer for Fun Size has a scene where Fuzzy chases Albert and yells "Come over here, you little bastard!". In the actual film, Fuzzy is actually a nice guy and never says that.
The trailer for the 1981 film Game of Death II is another really egregious example. It makes it look like Bruce Lee is the protagonist of the entire movie. In reality Bruce Lee appears only in the beginning of the film in the form of stock footage (he had died well before this movie even started production), and his character dies quickly. The rest of the film has no Bruce Lee whatsoever.
The theatrical trailer for Gattaca depicts it as a fast-paced action-thriller by constantly recycling a shot from the single moment of violence in the film, when Jerome punches a policeman while fleeing; it also includes virtually no footage of the film's third star, Jude Law, who is roughly as important to the plot as Ethan Hawke's character. There is no indication that the film is actually a slow, meditative exploration of bioethics and genetic cloning.
Gigli was made out to be a light-hearted rom-com when it's really a very dark comedy.
The trailer for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra implied that Cobra's attack on the Eiffel Tower would happen early in the movie and that the G. I. Joe team would then be formed in response to that attack. In the actual film, the Joe team is fully assembled well before the Eiffel Tower attack, which happens roughly halfway through the movie following a lengthy action scene as the Joe team chases the Cobra operatives through the streets of Paris in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the attack.
The trailer for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly had a narrator with annoying diction continually blurting out, "The Good... The Bad... and the UGLY" over footage of the three title characters. Unfortunately, because the original Italian title ('Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo') translates literally as 'The Good, The Ugly, The Bad', Angel Eyes and Tuco were swapped in the trailer, making poor Lee Van Cleef appear to be the 'ugly'. Eli Wallach must have been flattered.
Good Bye, Lenin! was marketed on being a comedy with the outrageous concept of the main character making it appear the Communist world never fell for his ailing mother. In reality, it's an arthouse movie with dark humor in between the genuine drama of the son's Byzantine schemes.
The initial TV ads for Good Luck Chuck place all of their emphasis on Jessica Alba's clumsiness, making the movie out to be a slapstick romantic comedy. The titular "good luck" curse that drives the movie, where any woman he has sex with meets her "true love" soon after, is never mentioned. They did eventually start running commercials that focused on the curse, though.
The 2006 movie The Good Shepherd pined the movie as a deep look into the history of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, better known as the CIA, including scenes of supposed espionage underway. Really much of the movie is about the personal life of Edward Wilson (Matt Damonof all people) his various affairs with women and his struggling marriage. And he just happened to find a secretive agency that spends most of its time trying to decipher a mysterious video. The movie is well over two hours long!
This trailer for Gosford Park makes it look like a comedic whodunit rather than a dramatic movie about the British class system.
Grandma's Boy was marketed in the trailer as being about a slacker who lived with his grandma and smokes weed with his stoner friend and pet monkey. Hilarious antics of the trio would presumably ensue. In reality, the film focused on the character's job as a video game tester, which appeared nowhere in the trailer. Stoner antics turn out to be quite limited.
The trailer for the The Green Hornet makes it seem (by splicing unrelated scenes together) that Kato builds the Black Beauty for Britt's father. Britt then supposedly decides to put on a mask and become the Green Hornet to avenge his father's death. In fact, Kato only builds the car after Britt suggests becoming superheroes, and it is made clear that the father dies of a bee sting, until the end when it is revealed he was actually murdered.
The trailer for Green Zone implies a Bourne-style thriller, with the government trying to take Matt Damon's character out as part of a cover-up. This is done through changing the context of lines: "I know what you did" is actually a line at the end of the movie and the line "Take that son of a bitch out!" is actually referring to someone else.
Rare example of this being done for a movie that doesn't exist: One of the fake trailers in Grindhouse, entitled "Don't!", is filmed so that you never hear the characters talking, and wouldn't know they were British. Many horror films of the '70s were marketed to Americans in this way.
The Halloween: Resurrection trailer made it seem like Laurie was in the house with the teenagers and would turn out to be a main protagonist in the plot. In the actual film, she dies in the first ten minutes or so, due to an out-of-character amount of Idiot Ball. The moment in the trailer when she greets Michael is taken from this sequence, which occurs at a mental asylum and not in the Myers house, and deceptively juxtaposed by the trailer with scenes involving the teenagers.
Hancock is either the saddest comedy ever or not a comedy at all.
While it has definite comedic moments, it is not nearly the action comedy that the trailers implied it would be, thanks to the Halfway Plot Switch. The DVD art (giving an additional billing that wasn't there in the theatrical run) and later TV spots blatantly give this away.
The trailer for the 1998 Todd Solondz film Happiness makes it look like a quirky romantic comedy. The film is anything BUT.
Given how inappropriate the trailer is, it's likely this was intentional.
The promotion of Chamber of Secrets seemed to really love Dobby, despite him being onscreen for no more than fifteen minutes of a two and a half hour film. Apparently, Warner Bros.' marketing department decided kids love funny CGI characters and almost went so far as to made it look like Dobby would be the new movie's Plucky Comic Relief. Instead, it just made reporters loudly raise the issue of whether or not Dobby was going to be the next Jar Jar Binks.
The third film's trailer makes Harry's line "I hope he finds me, 'cause when he does I'm gonna be ready!" look like a Badass Boast. The actual scene has Harry go on to say, "When he does, I'm gonna kill him!" and it's actually about Harry slipping into a Revenge Before Reason mindset.
The line that "magic will spread from their world into our own" — indicating that the Muggle world would feature prominently in Harry Potter 6 — in fact, Muggles play into only the first five minutes, and then we're back to the Wizarding world.
In a minor example, countless TV spots for Deathly Hallows Part 1 took Dobby's line "I like her very much" and used editing to make it look he's talking about Hermione. In the actual movie, the line refers to Luna.
Another Deathly Hallows Part 1 example: The movie channel with the rights to air it is showing trailers composed at least eighty percent of material from Part 2 instead.
David Thewlis, who plays Lupin in the HP movies, put together a fake trailer for Harry Potter as a teen comedy romance.
The trailer for Hellboy II: The Golden Army implied via context that HB and the BPRD fight a stone giant. In the actual movie, the giant is just a doorway.
The trailers for Highlander: Endgame (the fourth Highlander film and the first one to be based on the TV series) featured footage that depicted the main antagonist having supernatural powers and abilities he never actually uses in the film (like opening magic portals or making duplicates of himself), making him look more powerful than he actually was.
Word of God is that these scenes were never intended to make it into the film and were only shot for the trailer.
The History Boys is primarily about a group of working-class boys trying for Oxford and Cambridge, and their teachers' struggle between different schools of teaching. The trailer treated this as a shiny, happy coming-of-age story. To be fair, all this is important, but it ALSO leaves out a major chunk of the film dealing with homosexuality, which is what most viewers actually take from it.
Parodied by one of the trailers for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The trailer is set up as the in-universe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy entry on movie trailers, detailing tricks that most movie trailers make use of, which do not appear in the actual movie, implying the movie would be more clever, which of course it wasn't.
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 to create a piece of advertising that is original and exciting, yet intelligent and provocative. In other words: lots of things blowing up. [cue montage of explosions from other movies] Occasionally interrupted by a girl in a bikini.
The trailers for the movie version of Hitman heavily implied a religious angle that is completely absent from the film itself. The trailer narrator even blatantly lied with a claim that the protagonist was "raised by an exiled brotherhood of the Church" while showing what turns out to be a perfectly normal funeral service in a Russian Orthodox Church.
The entire ad campaign for Hollywood Homicide had no idea how to sell the film. The U.S. trailer was reasonably close to the tone of the movie, however it focused only on the rap murders and Calden wanting to take acting. Calden's acting is a minor subplot. That trailer had no mention of Gavilan's real estate subplot (a more prominent subplot), the internal affairs investigation or the fact that the main characters had secondary jobs. And just to add insult to injury, alternate takes were used to make the film funnier and much of the last 20 minutes is shown to make it seem action-packed. For the international campaign, the film was sold as a straight action movie (which it REALLY isn't), complete with a trailer that played up the action and sex scenes. The film has relatively little action and only two sex scenes, one of which is Harrison Ford chomping a doughnut mid-coitus... The TV ads for both campaigns didn't help either. Which is a pity, since the film is actually very good.
The earliest trailer for Hop featured nothing more than a rabbit playing the drums. There was no indication of the plot, the character's identity, or anything else about the film. The only slight hint came in the form of the title image, the word "hop" inside of an egg shape, which thinly suggested an Easter theme.
The trailer(s) for Hot Fuzz give the impression it's an action movie with lots of guns and explosions. It isn't, as it is a parody of those movies, meaning this could probably count as a subversion.
Well, they at least made it clear that the film was heavy on comedy.
It is a notable lie in that the trailers make the film look much more lighthearted and zany, with most of it focusing on Nick Frost's antics. In reality, it's an incredibly dark and disturbing black comedy with several moments of Nightmare Fuel.
One TV spot for the live action How the Grinch Stole Christmas! movie contained a scene with Cindy Lou Who encountering the Grinch saying, "Santa Claus?" in which the Grinch replies: "I'm certainly not the Grinch, if that's what you're thinking."
The trailer for Hugo depicts it as a family adventure film about the adventures of a young boy and girl in a train station putting together an automaton along with a lot of slapstick as the "evil" Station Inspector tries to catch them and gets thwarted in humourous ways. In reality while it was a family-friendly film with some elements of adventure and some comedy (including a bit of slapstick), it was also a very clever tribute to the beginnings of cinema.
The trailers built up the Station Inspector as evil. In actuality, while he is the closest thing in the movie to an antagonist and and does cause quite a bit of trouble for Hugo, the film does at least make it clear that he's just doing his job. He even gets a romantic sub-plot and earns his happy ending.
The suspense thriller Hush had a trailer of the 'includes scenes shot but eventually cut from the final version' variety. Images which appeared included an overhead shot down a spiral staircase of a body being taken away on a gurney under a sheet; a shot which implied the son confronted his mother about her sinister doings; an all-out fight scene between Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange with shards of a broken mirror; and a climactic battle in a burning barn, complete with rearing horses and a collapsing hayloft. None of this happens at all in the film. Even if the makers are telling the truth about it being cut, it's obvious they made the most of their product seeming to be an action movie. It's hard to tell whether including the Genre Shift would have improved or ruined the original movie or not.
The Ice Harvest, directed by HaroldRamis, was marketed as a comedy, playing up Billy Bob Thornton's Bad Santa fame. The movie itself is more of a drama/thriller.
The trailers for In Bruges make it sound like a harmless little comedy about fugitives. It really, really isn't. Some trailers for the film refer to it as an action-comedy. What does that say?
The Incredible Hulk. A trailer shows Dr Samson interviewing Banner in Betty Ross' house. This scene appears in neither the movie nor even in extra material from the DVD. This just causes a lot of confusion when we see that Samson is the one that turned Banner in when, given what we see in the movie, he never even should have known Banner was there.
The second disc of the 3-Disc Special Edition DVD features the deleted scenes with Samson.
Another trailer starts with Robert Downey, Jr..'s cameo as Tony Stark, which gives the impression that the movie is a crossover with Iron Man and that Stark will have a significant role in the movie. In reality, of course, Stark shows up for less than a minute in The Stinger and only interacts with General Ross.
The 2003 Hulk also had a misleading marketing campaign that made it seem like it was going to be a big, loud action extravaganza. Many moviegoers were disappointed to learn that the film was mostly drama with only a couple of big action scenes.
The trailers for Inception had the main character claim he wanted to steal an idea, but the movie is actually about him planting one. The final trailer for the movie begins with these lines: "There's something you should know about me. I specialize in a very specific type of security... subconscious security." These lines are a perfect choice to explain the premise of the movie, but they're also an example of this trope because they're a big fat lie, told to the recipient of the implanted idea to get him to cooperate.
It also grievously misrepresents the tone of the movie, making it look like a Summer Blockbuster. The actual film is much deeper and more intellectual, action sequences notwithstanding. It is a Chris Nolan film after all.
The concept of "inception" is explained in the trailer like this: "We create the world of the dream. We bring the subject into that dream, and they fill it with their secret. Then you break in and steal it. It's called 'inception'". In the movie, this is actually the concept of "extraction", "inception" is an opposite process.
Ariadne's dream where she rolls the city of Paris up like a taco is emphasized in the trailers, but in the movie doesn't affect the plot at all.
Trailers for Independence Day depict Will Smith's character saying "Welcome to Earth!" just as he is throwing a punch at an alien. In the actual movie, he says it seconds after punching it.
Trailers for The Informant made you think it was a goofy, satirical comedy about a dumb, bumbling, inept paper-pusher who keeps trying and failing to inform on his company to the government. In reality, it's based on the true story of a very smart but socially-inept man who successfully informs on his company to the government, later admits to embezzling over $9 million (or maybe $11 million), and pathologically lies to everyone. While the film has some laughs, it's not screwball at all beyond what's in the trailer, and the randomly hilarious narrations and mood dissonance over the film becomes a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when we learn that the narrations and behavior of Mark Whitacre were a result of bipolar disorder and a scumbag-level of brilliant scheming.
The trailer for Inglourious Basterds has a minor example in that it implies a direct confrontation between Brad Pitt's character and Hitler; the more glaring example would be that they paid minimal attention to the "theatre-owner's revenge" plot, instead focusing on the squad's scalp-happy shenanigans.
As a reminder that Tropes Are Not Bad, the theatre-owner's revenge plot does give much-deserved screen time to Landa & Dreyfuss and proves to be more successful than the Basterds' plot.
A much bigger example is how it makes the thing out to be a crazy action-heavy flick when it's really a very slow moving and dialogue heavy film where anything that could be considered a fight is five seconds long.
The International's trailer basically marketed it as a fast-paced action movie. It's neither fast-paced or an action movie, though there is one notable and very acclaimed action sequence. The final line in the trailer is also grossly taken out of context.
The trailer for The Invisible makes it seem like a dead boy is solving his own murder, according to what the other dead guy says. Strangely enough, the other dead guy isn't even in the movie.
As William Goldman tells it, this happened to him with Invitation to Happiness. Trailer: A tough boxing match - fifteen to twenty seconds. Something every action fan would love. Movie: Lots and lots of smooching. Twenty-three kisses, he counted 'em. Yes, the boxing bit also was in it - but no more than in the trailer.
The Iron Lady's trailer suggests that the film is about the political career of Margaret Thatcher. The actual film is 1/3 about the political career of Margaret Thatcher and 2/3 about Thatcher as an old lady with crippling mental illness, haunted by the memory of her late husband. Whoever cut together the trailer correctly identified which part audiences ended up enjoying more.
The trailer for Iron Man 2 had this in spades, but not in the normal way — the scenes in the trailer were completely different in the movie. For example, the "kiss for good luck" bit was gone, cutting to Tony just jumping out of the plane, no romantic subtext involved.
The alternate opening with that scene appears on the DVD... with unfinished effects, showing they quickly dismissed that scene.
The trailers and TV spots for Iron Man 3 went out of their way to portray Ben Kingsley's Mandarin as the diabolical mastermind and the personal nemesis of Tony Stark, focused on turning his life to hell - in other words, much like his Comic Book self. However, this is a positive example because in the actual film, Kingsley is the wacky stage actor junkie, playing the part of "The Mandarin" to the public for pure Narm. The actual Mandarin and the Big Bad is Aldritch Killian, who is a Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer. Also, half of Kingsley's Badass Boast lines don't appear at all and the other half are directed to the President/general public, not Tony.
It's a Wonderful Life: the trailer shows only scenes from the first half of the film: no Clarence, no George losing $8,000 from the Savings and Loan, no suicide attempt, no George-less alternate reality. It was advertised as a romantic comedy about happy-go-lucky people. If there was any reason why the film was a box-office flop in 1946, the advertising campaign must have contributed.
Likewise to Bicentennial Man above, the trailers for Jack played it up as a Big-like comedy, all because Robin Williams was in it. The actual movie? One big Tear Jerker. The posters for Jack are all pictures of a happy guy with little kiddy writing. Quite inappropriate really, for a movie that is about a kid who, at the end of the film, is graduating from high school at apparently 72 years old, and will in all likelihood be dead in a couple years.
The trailers depict Jack the Giant Slayer as being a campy family comedy instead of the dark action film that it really is. It's possible Warner Bros. did this to avoid people claiming that Singer copied The Lord of the Rings series.
The trailers for Jarhead make it out to be a fast-paced, gritty war movie full of explosions and heroics(several scenes in the trailer are not present in the film). This is an egregious example as the entire point of Jarhead is that the platoon never sees direct action, and nobody dies. The most dramatic scene in the movie is a standoff with a handful of nomads... and it ends peacefully.
The third trailer for John Carter made the embarrassing choice of using dubstep and added in a line from Deja Thoris that hinted at a plot element about the risk of both Mars and Earth being destroyed. The film didn't do so well at the box office, so Disney were probably forcing the failure a little too hard.
The trailer for Juno focused on Paulie Bleeker, Michael Cera's character and the father of Juno's baby and barely showed Juno at all. The film itself focused much more on Juno herself, with Bleeker simply featured as a supporting character. This probably came as a result of trying to capitalize on the momentum of Michael Cera, who had a Star-Making Role in Superbad, which opened a few months before Juno.
Kangaroo Jack was marketed with scenes of a wisecracking, talking, rapping kangaroo who appears only during a hallucination had by one of the main characters. The title kangaroo does not talk, and the film is not as kid-friendly as one would assume from the trailer.
Also spawned a serious case of research failure in amateur film critics, many of whom blasted the film as "another kid movie about talking animals." Anyone who saw the movie can tell you it is neither kid-friendly nor about talking animals. Ironically, there was a direct-to-video animated sequel where the kangaroo did talk, by means of a magic spell.
The dream sequence in question is, in fact, a Big Lipped Alligator Moment that was added at the end of production specifically so it could be used in the trailer. The poster for the movie also shows the kangaroo wearing clothes and sunglasses and acting very human. Basically, the studio was afraid that they had a bomb on their hands with this film, so they made a crass, calculated, last-ditch effort to salvage the film by selling it to the public as a children's film (which actually worked somewhat as the film managed to do reasonable business at the box-office and a sequel is currently in the works) Some of the dialogue was redubbed to be more kid-friendly, too. There's a running gag where everyone keeps calling the main character "chickenshit." In the final film, this was changed to "chicken blood."
If you saw only the Green Band trailers for Kick-Ass, you might be thinking that it's a fun, whimsical Kid Fu-type movie to take the children to see. And here's something else you'd be: Wrong. Seriously, don't let the kids see this one; they'll be scarred for life. If not badly influenced by Hit-Girl. Also, the movie clearly has "Ass" in the title, which should tell you right there that it won't be kid-friendly.
At the end of the first Kill Bill, the Bride takes on the Crazy 88s in a scene which is shown in black and white to avoid an NC-17 rating, and also as a homage to earlier bloodier films shown in black and white for the same reason. The trailer, however, has clips of this scene in color, showing that it wasn't filmed in black and white.
The trailer for Killer Elite depicts the film as a violent action film where Jason Statham and Clive Owen are trying to kill each other to get to Robert De Niro's character (with the tagline "May the best man win"). Though the actual film is still rather violent, it is actually an espionage thriller about a retired hitman having to kill three SAS agents as part of a revenge plot planned by a sheikh. Owen's character is a government agent whose job is to watch him and his associates every move.
The trailer for Kingdom of Heaven shows a long clip of a sex scene with Orlando Bloom, no doubt luring some female fans into the cinemas expecting a longer version of the scene. In actual fact, the couple of seconds we see in the trailer are probably even longer than what actually appears in the movie.
In the Nicolas Cage movie Knowing, trailers presented viewers with a question: if you knew when and where a disaster was going to happen, could you stop it? It promised a film about a hero deciding what he was willing to sacrifice in order to save strangers from events only he knew were coming. Instead, it becomes a head against wall moment when the list of dates and locations (and body counts) turned out to be entirely pointless and the movie ends with benevolentaliens loading up humans and animals into space arks to save them from an unavoidable Class 6 apocalypse.
The trailer for Kung Fu Hustle faithfully showed lots of action scenes, which was, after all, what the movie was about. Of course, it did show those scenes to the song "Ballroom Blitz" and never allowed a line of dialogue to be heard, meaning that not till you've bought your ticket and were in the seat did you find out that the movie is in Chinese.
They later dubbed the movie.
Kung Pow! Enter the Fist had commercials in which several epic battle scenes were shown. However some of them were just a teaser for the sequel (which has yet to be released, if it ever will) after the end credits and never had any impact on the real movie plot. In reality though they were just deleted scenes.
M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, while marketed as a horror movie, is actually a semi-metafictional fantasy story with only a few moments of suspense. This was also true for another of his films, The Village. Its trailers present it as a scary horror film while in truth it's nothing but a drama/love story movie. Albeit with a couple of Shyamalan's trademark twists.
The trailer for the Korean disaster movie The Last Days features a huge tsunami smashing through the city of Pusan and causing untold destruction. Truly, something that wouldn't have looked out of place in 2012. What the trailer doesn't tell you is that, to watch those (very) few minutes of scenery gorn, you'll first have to sit through almost an hour and a half of Korean dramedy of dubious value.
An international example: Michaelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura is a very slow, high-concept, epic-length Italian film about a girl disappears and her friends being so empty inside that they have no remorse and merely get with each other to fill the void that the missing girl left (friend, lover). This is a film so difficult that it was BOOED AT CANNES. If you had only the trailer to go on, you'd boo it too, as the promotional clip makes it appear to be some sort of sexy, breeze romantic comedy, instead of the extensive, meandering ennui you get.
As American Football is not a very popular sport in the UK, trailers for Leatherheads completely disguised the fact that it is a sports movie, which leaves the title very, very bizarre. Some people thought it was about barnstormers and the name was a reference to flying helmets...
As to not alienate anyone who isn't a fan of football, most of the TV ads in the US solely focused on portraying it as a wacky period rom-com. Unfortunately, that meant football fans were not enticed by the romantic angle, the ladies were not enticed by the early-1900s football setting, and the film flopped.
Les Miserables (2012) had TV spots that didn't let on the film was a musical. The theatrical trailer also suspiciously doesn't use clips of any of the cast singing, apart from "I Dreamed A Dream". As a result, many people not familiar with the stage show didn't realise that the film was sung the whole way through. Anne Hathaway was also given third billing despite having about twenty minutes worth of screen time in the 150 minute epic.
To even further this idea, some TV spots featured an unused line of Russell Crowe speaking: "I know you. You're Jean Valjean!" Any one who has seen it knows he practically sings through his part.
Honest Trailers must be aware of this, as their "honest" trailer of Les Mis says, "Universal Studios proudly presents the film you realized had absolutely no dialogue whatsoever only after you bought your ticket."
The trailer for I Worship His Shadow claimed it was set in the future. It even gave a specific year: 4004 AD.
The original teaser to Live Free or Die Hard made Maggie Q's character look like an agent and an ally to John McClane. She's actually The Dragon and only poses as an agent in order to accomplish a task for the film's villain. Additionally, the teaser also presented McClane as being more stoic and grim, when he's actually just as much of a smartass as ever.
Another TBS promo was all about Gandalf on his white horse.
The trailer for Lord of War made it out to be more of an action comedy than the super-depressing drama with some Black Comedy it ended up being.
And then they flipped it for another of Nicolas Cage's movies, Bangkok Dangerous, which the trailers made look like a slow, thoughtful examination of the assassination trade, when it was actually a pretty standard shoot 'em up action movie. Clearly, the promotional firms for the two movies should have been switched... as it is, they should just be fired.
The trailer for The Losers made the film look like the titular group spends the movie fighting back against the CIA, especially with the line "We're declaring war on the Central Intelligence Agency." However, aside from one or two references early in the movie, the main villain has absolutely nothing to do with the government agency.
The Love Guru trailer has Don LaFontaine aka (The Movie Trailer Guy) as the voice on the Voiceover Machine. The final movie has Morgan Freeman. This could be due to the fact that this was a movie trailer so why not have LaFontaine used in clever manner. It would make less sense to have him in the final movie.
A trailer in 2002 advertised the film Lucky Star directed by Michael Mann and starring Benicio Del Toro as a professional gambler milking vast amounts of money from casinos and the stock market before drawing the attention of government agents. Turned out that there was never going to be a film at all — the whole thing was actually an advert for the new Mercedes SL, his getaway car. The new Volvo S80 also used a film-trailer-style TV ad, and LG also pulled this stunt with its new Scarlet line of TVs.
This particular variant was parodied by Samsung in a fake trailer promoting smartphone. "No Guns", "No Romance", "No Plot", "Just Phone". "The Greatest Product Placement Movie of All Time".
So he's the jerk to blame for giving the ad execs the "bright" idea of those smarmy, annoying commercials we got flooded with at the theaters over the last couple years!
The trailer to Lymelife greatly overemphasized the comedic elements. The film is barely a comedy at all. Furthermore it also made Jill Hennessy's character look like an overprotective bitch. While far from perfect, Hennessy is probably the most sympathetic adult in the entire movie.
The trailers for Man of Steel adopted a very dark look in order to attract the same viewers of The Dark Knight Saga. The trailers also tended to play very somber music and philosophical voiceovers in order to make the film seem very intellectual and quiet. However, the quiet moments showcased in those trailers are perhaps the only ones in the movie, which is in fact actually full of massive city destroying action. Some of the louder scenes were even dubbed over with sad music rather than the actual heroic themes during then.
But at the same time, the tone of the trailers is much more idealistic and heroic than the actual film, in the end the trailers are more serious but not darker because of it, the movie is the dark interpretation, the trailers are more hopeful than the movie itself, so anyway never trust a trailer
The trailer for Man of the Year, a film starring Robin Williams, makes the film look like a comedy. It is actually mostly a drama about a comedic talkshow host who runs for president... and gets elected half an hour in. The trailer also hides that it isn't only about him; it gives no hint of a more critical and dramatic plot in the film.
Marley and Me, released during the same Christmas season. Just...Marley & Me. The trailer basically screams "See the cute puppy! See the cute puppy get into crazy antics!" The movie itself, however, says-"See the cute puppy! See the cute puppy get into crazy antics that get old after the first five minutes! See the cute puppy grow old and die." Wasn't that a fun movie, kids? (Cue kids crying.)
The dark comedy The Matador was billed as an action movie, which it is not. As a result, the film did very poorly in theaters even though critics generally liked it.
The trailer for Max Payne emphasizes the winged beasts and walls of fire Max sees and has lines like "The Devil is building his army. Max Payne is looking for something that God wants to stay hidden." It's like they're trying to make it look like a supernatural movie. People who've actually played the games will know that these are merely hallucinations the protagonist suffers and the plot is actually more of a typical crime drama. It's possible that, due to the Film Noir qualities of the movie, they were afraid of it looking too much like a rip-off of Sin City and tried to take it in a different direction. In fact, when Sin City hit theatres, some fans of the Max Payne games thought the opposite. Apparently, modern audiences are unaware of the noir genre.
For whatever reason the trailer for Mean Girls switches Gretchen and Regina's descriptions. In the movie itself Gretchen is described as "knowing everything about everyone", "that's why her hair is so big — it's full of secrets," and Regina is rumored to have two Fendi purses and a silver Lexus. The trailer switches this around, probably to make Regina seem like more of an Alpha Bitch.
The first trailer for Men in Black 3 was like this too. Based on the time jump scene (where Manhattan looks a little too clean) and the scene at the HQ (where everything looks futuristic and Agent O replies that K had been dead for over 40 years), one could infer that J and K wound up in a battle with a time traveler who killed K and brought J with him over 40 years into the future, then J discovers he is in the future when O mentions K being dead, and must return to his own time. Based on these assumptions, the line about the secrets of the universe could be interpreted as implying the existence of another organization, even more secret than the Men In Black, who protect time.
A trailer for Minority Report featured Danny Witwer saying 'I have a warrant in my pocket that says murder'. The trailer grafted his use of the word 'murder' onto the end of his in-film line 'I have a warrant in my pocket that says different', which he said early on, in response to Anderton's relatively undramatic insistence that Witwer not be allowed a tour of the precog room.
The trailer for Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium was downright baffling. All that was shown was a whole lot of beautifully-rendered CGI magic, plus Dustin Hoffman in the middle of it. No indication of the actual plot was ever advertised, which must have created a bit of Mood Whiplash for a few viewers when they learned that the movie is really about Mr. Magorium's magically extended lifetime coming to an end.
Mrs. Doubtfire is another Robin Williams film whose trailers will make you think 'zany wacky' and that the Dad he plays is dressing up so as to avoid the results of some harebrained scheme that went wrong. The trailers kind of completely ignore the heart-wrenching scenes wherein he and Sally Field tear each other to emotional pieces as and after their marriage falls apart—in front of their kids. Pierce Brosnan is made to seem an unwanted interloper - in fact he is scads more responsible and stable than Williams' character. And the unmasking scene is not an 'uh-oh' but a huge emotional gamble that at first backfires hideously.
Deliberately invoked in this trailer. Looks like your run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, right? Actually, it's a Muppet movie.
The controversial drama Mysterious Skin needed to omit the references to sexual abuse, homosexuality, and extremely heavycursing to make their trailers suitable for general TV. This naturally put too much emphasis on the "alien abduction" aspect, so it looks like a family-friendly sci-fi movie with dramatic moments here and there. Itisnotfamily-friendly. Brian only thinks he got abducted by aliens because he repressed the real memories of getting molested by his Little League baseball coach. While the movie is regarded positively by those who were prepared for its content, people who saw only the trailers may have been surprised after the first twenty minutes.
The Mummy (1999) was advertised as a straight-up horror film, instead of the high-spirited Indiana Jones-esque film it was.
The American trailer for My Baby Is Black! (French title: Les Lâches vivent d'espoir) makes it look like the white female lead having a black baby is some kind of medical mystery, but in the film itself they show from the start that the baby is black because the father is. The title change was also to make it seem more like an Exploitation Film, when it's more of a serious drama.
National Treasure featured a very overwrought use of the line 'Do you trust me?' followed by the typical 'yes', and then one hand lets go of the other. This scene means bugger all in the movie. The drop is less than a foot, and the scene takes in all about three seconds, but it made centre stage for the trailer. The rest of the trailer is pretty faithful though.
The trailer for The Negotiator featured Kevin Spacey saying something akin to "Now you have to deal with both of us", a line that would have indicated the movie taking a much different route than it actually did.
Neighborhood Watch's first trailer made it look like a typical black comedy film with the main characters just being complete idiots and causing disaster everywhere. Which still looks to be the case, but you'd have no idea from the initial one that they're trying to stop an alien invasion the entire time.
And despite a name change (to The Watch), the second trailer isn't any better about it. It's like Fox doesn't want anyone to get interested the film. Possibly an Enforced Trope, since the marketing had to be revamped due to the Trayvon Martin case being uncomfortably similar to the movies premise (about neighborhood watchmen who get a bit overzealous).
Hey everybody! It's the latest and greatest comedy, Next Day Air! This hilarious parody (starring Donald Faison) of the life of drug dealers and mailmen will leave you rolling on the floor struggling to catch your breath! Except for the fact that the length of the trailer amounts to maybe half of Donald Faison's screen time, and the main story follows two unlucky criminals who, by luck, acquire some drugs and are pursued by a drug lord who seeks to kill them.
The trailer for Night of the Lepus goes out of its way to avoid showing any Giant KillerBunny Rabbits, which of course raises the question: if you realize upfront that your monsters aren't scary, why would you still make a movie about them?
When the film No Reservations was coming out in theaters, there were two trailers for it. One hyped up the "romantic comedy" angle, leaving the plot of the main female character having to care for her newly orphaned niece completely out, as if she didn't exist; another trailer, oddly enough usually shown much later at night, mostly did the reverse, focusing on the niece and including only a few shots of her tension with the guy as if he were just a minor complication to the whole thing. Now that it's coming out on DVD, the trailers used are for the "all romantic comedy" version, and the other side has been completely omitted.
The trailer makes it look like Hammond is the first victim of the killer, when it is Marks who ends up killing him, and out of self-defense.
It also gives the impression that the terrorist is a woman in a red dress, though the hijacker(s) are actually two males.
It also gives the impression that the terrorist is a woman in a red dress, though the hijacker(s) are actually two males.
The trailer for Nothing makes it out to be a psychological thriller/horror/sci-fi much in the same vein as Vincenzo Natali's earlier film Cube, when in actuality it is a lighthearted buddy comedy that is almost nothing like that.
The trailers for Now You See Me make it look to be that these magicians are using highly advance technology to pull off their crimes, even showing one of them using the "Teleporter". Where in the movie the teleporter is just a prop and it is done by someone in the audience. Though it is clear through the nature of the film this was intentional since everything (such as finding high tech plans) leading up to the teleporter in the first act heavily suggests that the trailer was true.
The trailer for the documentary Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa is filled with ominous music and repeated shots of guns and destruction. In reality, the confrontation depicted is a single subplot out of many and was soon resolved peacefully off-camera. The film is actually a fascinating study of a tiny rural community cut off from the rest of society and the wide range of interesting characters who choose to live there.
Outside Providence was not a wacky Farrelly Bros. comedy, despite their pushing the connection (one of them wrote the story, in truth) and showing the funny scenes. In actuality it was more of a coming-of-age dramedy.
Pacific Rim: Del Toro stated that despite sounding exactly like GLaDOS in the trailer, Ellen McLain will sound nothing like her in the final product and was simply done for fun because he is a fan of Portal and wanted people to know she was in the movie. This is subverted by the fact that for the trailer Del toro used Valve's GLaDOS filter, but for the final film he made his own which was toned down but sounds almost identical. Specifically, it's GLaDOS' voice without her catty sociopathy. Except for one little hint of it:
Would you like to try again?
Part of the reason for Pain and Gain's controversy is that the trailers for the film made it appear as if the Sun Gym Gang were pulling off some wacky heist against an unscrupulous crime boss. The movie, however, does not present the protagonists on the whole as even remotely sympathetic, portrays the victims sympathetically and has the Sun Gym Gang do some fairly gruesome things.
Pan's Labyrinth was marketed as a family friendly fantasy adventure a la The Chronicles of Narnia. It isn't.note It really, really, isn't. In addition, the trailers and promotional material kinda left out one detail: The movie's in Spanish with subtitles. This resulted in so many complaints along the lines of "It's in the wrong language! I want it in English!" that movie theaters (and rental stores, once the film hit DVD) had to put up signs saying "Pan's Labyrinth is in Spanish and that's the way it's meant to be".
In the final frame of one trailer for Paranormal Activity 2, you can see the family dog in Hunter's room barking at something unseen in the doorway. The crib is empty, however creepily enough in the mirror's reflection you can see baby Hunter standing in it. This never happens in the film.
Many of the scenes in the Paranormal Activity 3 trailer were not in the movie, and are likely being saved for the director's cut DVD.
The trailer for Party Monster: The Shockumentary featured a prominent clip of one of the club kids talking about the rumors that initially surrounded the disappearance of Angel Melendez, including that his "head was cut off and was in someone's freezer in Brooklyn." Its placement in the trailer makes it seem like this was fact.
This trailer for Payback is littered with them, ranging from the minor factual stuff like saying "This is [Porter's] dog" — it's only a dog named after him by a friend/love interest — up to completely misrepresenting the movie as something of a comedy (it's a rather dark Film Noir) and portraying the chillingly ruthless and competent anti hero Porter as a No Respect Guy and something of a bumbler. And that's putting aside things like featuring scenes that were cut from the film and would only be restored years later in the Director's Cut.
The trailers for Piranha 3 DD depict it as being your standard horror-comedy, similar to the first film. The final result is actually a parody in the vein of The Wayans Brothers' Scary Movie.
Not a trailer, per se, but the same idea for the first The Chronicles of Riddick installment, Pitch Black. In order to promote it, Sci-Fi Channel made a 45-minute faux-documentary/drama called Into Pitch Black about an insurance investigator hiring a mercenary to find Riddick and what was left of the ship. Seems like a good way to promo the movie and reveal more backstory, doesn't it? Well, it might have been, if it'd had any actors from the film, acting and production values better than a 1990s FMV game, or the merest semblance of competent writing. Even the entire genre of the movie is misrepresented: The film is a sci-fi horror thriller in the vein of Alien about people fighting to survive a long-distance journey through a desert in months-long darkness, filled with monsters who can see in the dark. The video instead doesn't even show any of the aliens until the end, and only in quick flashes. Instead, it deliberately re-edits footage to make it seem like some kind of Friday the 13th slasher film, with Riddick stalking the main characters, when in fact, he's actually the "hero" of the film. There's no question they lost more viewers than they gained. If you're really feeling masochistic, have a search for it on YouTube.
Though the misrepresentation of the plot is probably the best you can do while avoiding Trailers Always Spoil - knowing that the planet is inhabited by predatory aliens and Riddick ends up as the hero would ruin the tension early on when the audience is meant to assume otherwise.
They couldn't have been that wary of revealing Riddick's Sociopathic Hero role, as the DVD contains a never-released version of the trailer with the tagline "Fight evil with evil".
The trailer for The Place Beyond The Pines implied that it was a touching story of a troubled young man (Gosling) just trying to do what's right: support his son financially. So, in order for this to happen, he must go around robbing banks. Then, it showed Cooper being the police officer. It implied that he was the cop who was trying to investigate the bank robberies, and catch Gosling's character. Then it showed Ray Liotta, who seemed to be Cooper's boss in the trailer. It also implied that Gosling and Mendes come together as a happy family and she accepted his bank robbing ways and they were to live happily ever after until Gosling was arrested. Not even remotely close to the actual plot.
Precious. The television commercials show only the main character's day-dream sequencing, implying that the film is about an up-and-coming diva, when the actual film is not even close.
The trailer for Predators imply that the planet is full of the title monsters, but in fact there were only four in the movie.
There is a scene in the trailer where dozens of triple laser sights pop up on Royce. This scene is in the film, but there is only one.
The trailer for The Prestige gives the viewer the impression that Christian Bale's character has actual magic powers which he uses for his Stage Magician act. The closest thing to actual wizardry in the movie is Nikola Tesla's machine, used by Hugh Jackman, but given the movie's theme of stage magic and its heavy reliance on misdirecting the audience, the use of this trope is rather appropriate.
Notoriously used for the 2007 film Primeval which is loosely based on the true story of man-eating crocodile Gustave. The trailer describes Gustave as a serial killer who has claimed more than 300 victims and remains at large. It completely omits the fact that it's a crocodile. The only mention of his non-human status is a brief line in the trailer where the narrator says "He's real, but he's not human" which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. A crocodile only flashes on screen for about a second.
The trailer for Privates on Parade featured footage of John Cleese doing a Silly Walk on a parade ground, making it look like a wacky Pythonesque comedy. In fact, the Silly Walk scene was edited in at the very end of the movie and through most of it, John Cleese is actually fairly restrained and a serious character.
Cleese reportedly complained to the producers about this out-of-context use of the shot.
The trailer for The Proposition has David Wenham's quote "If you're going to kill one, make sure you bloody well kill them all," placed in such a way as to trick the viewer into thinking that the quote has some relevance to the main plot, regarding the Burns Gang. In the film, it's just a dog-kick regarding his character's views on Aborigine uprisings.
Trailers for Queen of the Damned—and even the title—imply Akasha to be the central character. It's actually Lestat. Not only does Akasha's total screentime add up to about twenty minutes, her only purpose is to tempt Lestat into being evil.
The trailer for Rachel Getting Married makes the film appear to be a quirky indie comedy a la Juno or Little Miss Sunshine. Sucks for anyone who saw it expecting that and discovering it's actually a very heavy and heartwrenching drama, with many of the humorous scenes in the trailer actually not funny AT ALL in context.
One TV spot for Radio Flyer gives the illusion of a lighthearted fantasy about two brothers building a flying machine. They don't give away the fact that they're building it to help the youngest brother escape from their abusive stepfather.
The trailer for Racing Stripes added a lot of new dialogue to make it seem like comedy all over, when it wasn't entirely that.
The trailer for the 2011 sci-fi film Real Steel has a scene where Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman)'s son asks Bailey Tallet (Evangeline Lilly) what Jackman's character was like as a boxer, and she describes him as "number 2, top of the line" or something to that effect. While she does indeed use that description, in the actual film she uses it to describe a boxer he was fighting against.
Also, the trailer makes you believe that, contrary to everyone else, Hugh Jackman is controlling his robot with his own movements giving him better reaction time as well as actual boxing experience and this is seen as something radical against the multitude of remote controls everyone else uses. In the movie, the robot is mostly control by a voice recognition headset, while the "shadow function" only comes into play in three direct instances; it's used (largely unseen) to "train" the robot's fighting moves, for the little boy to dance with the robot for pregame showmanship, and finally like the trailers to actually fight (but even then, only for the very last round). General consensus is the trailer had the better idea.
The David Mamet film Redbelt trailers made it look like an action movie that takes place in a Mixed Martial Arts tournament. Let's reiterate: a David Mamet film.
Red Dog is misleading, similarly to Marley & Me. The trailer is very light in tone, as is much of the film, but not without considerable Mood Whiplash when Red Dog's owner dies in the middle and Red Dog follows at the end.
The dramatic thriller Red Eye was named for the fact that it mostly takes place on a red eye airline flight. Trailers for the movie took footage from the film and used special effects to make the antagonist's eyes glow red in an attempt to attract undue interest. Also, the trailers usually tricked you into thinking it was a chick flick, until halfway through, when they'd usually play the "My business is all about you" clip.
Reign of Fire advertised with an image of dragons attacking London, with helicopters flying to defend. The real movie wasn't nearly as exciting.
Multiple commercials for Reign of Fire ended with Matthew McConaughey's character leaping off a tower straight at the dragon with an ax screaming at the top of his lungs. Just see what happens in the movie.
Weirder, the trailer says the film is set in "2087 A.D." when it's actually set in the year 2020. It's unknown, and possibly inexplicable, why this is.
The original trailers and commercials for Resurrecting The Champ portrayed the growing bond between Samuel L. Jackson's homeless ex-champion and Josh Harnett's newspaper reporter and the latter's reconnection with his own family. This is actually what the movie is about. But, inexplicably, a couple weeks before the opening, the trailers shifted to portray what looked like a "One man crusade for justice" on behalf of the Jackson character.
The trailer for the movie Risk portrays it as being an action-thriller, when it's actually just, well, a thriller with one action scene towards the end.
The Road. Where do we begin? Tons of disaster footage in the beginning that does not appear in the film, which even deliberately avoids showing what caused the apocalypse. A great emphasis on Charlize Theron, who appears only in flashbacks and whose role could only be described as a cameo. And an attempt to sell the film as an action movie, which it is very far from, rather just a very sad and somber look at the dying world and humanity in it.
The trailers for Sabotage rearranged scenes from the movie to suggest a story often miles away from the actual film's plot, and actually looped in new lines of dialog to perpetuate the fraud. Key example: the cartel's kidnapping of Breacher's family happens before his team's raid on the safe house, not as a result of same. And what we think is Breacher's reaction to the kidnapping ("I'm gonna destroy them") is actually "I'm gonna destroy that bitch," in reference to discovering that Lizzy has killed her husband Monster.
The Santa Clause 2 trailer featured reindeer speaking proper English, when Comet was the only reindeer who could talk, although he spoke gibberish.
Several TV spots for the first movie focused entirely on Scott/Santa getting arrested by the cops and the E.L.F.S. rescue squad attempting to break him out, making it seem like it was some sort of family-friendly prison escape movie. It only takes up about 10 or so minutes of the movie and doesn't happen until near the tail end, and the true plot of Scott coming to accept his transformation is barely glossed over.
The trailer for Saving Mr. Banks accurately promises a movie about Walt Disney making Mary Poppins in the early 1960s. However, it gives undue attention to Disney and Poppins creator Pamela Travers's visit to Disneyland, which is a very brief scene in the movie. It also makes Saving Mr. Banks look like it's exclusively a comedy, barely focusing on Travers's childhood and not bringing up any of the movie's traumatic moments.
The trailer for Secret Window painted the movie as a horror film with the main character haunted by a ghost by emphasizing scenes that were hallucinations. The film is actually a psychological thriller.
Trailers for the S Club 7 movie Seeing Double made it look like the band getting arrested was the main plot. In actuality the band are only in prison for about five minutes in the first act. The film's real plot - a mad scientist cloning pop stars over the world - was not mentioned at all.
Seven Pounds - the trailers gave only a small part of the plot: Will Smith's character is being The Atoner and helping seven people (drama ensues). The ads also imply this, adding that Smith's character is an IRS agent; his atonement could be monetary. Imagine my surprise when the critics described the film as a romantic comedy and Smith's atonement is donating his organs to seven people (the title refers to his heart, which is going to his love interest). Never trust a trailer, ads, or critics.
Seven Psychopaths was advertised as a comedic romp where multiple crazy people, including Christopher Walken, go around trying to kill each other, and hilarity ensues. Just to give you a hint of how off that is, Christopher Walken plays a pacifist who doesn't kill anyone in the entire film. The clip from the trailer where he pops out of a coffin and shoots two people is from someone's imagination of how an event would go.
The Guy RitchieSherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law was bafflingly mismarketed. The trailers, by taking nearly every line and scene utterly out of context, paint Holmes as a depraved, ineffectual lech, juxtaposed with a squeaky-clean Watson against a backdrop of explosions and scantily clad women. The film itself is a far more faithful depiction of the mood, setting, and characters as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended them to be portrayed, and probably the most faithful screen adaptation of Holmes.
On a smaller scale, there's a scene in the trailer of him kissing Irene Adler and later being naked in that incredibly funny chained to the bed scene (the "beneath this pillow lies the key to my release" scene), insinuating that there will be a romance between them. While there's some small romantic tension, she's actually kissing him as he passes out from the drugs she put in the wine. After he's unconscious she strips and handcuffs him, presumably to keep him from chasing her immediately when he wakes up. None of it is consensual on Holmes' side.
And to the disappointment of Yaoi Fangirls everywhere, Irene's line "They've been flirting like this for hours" as seen in the trailer does not appear in the film. However, the film was filled to the brim with Ho Yay.
The Shortcut at first looks like a happy-go-lucky teenage romantic comedy, but near the end it becomes apparent it's a horror film.
The trailers for Shutter Island latched on to two moments of the movie to make it look like Martin Scorsese had decided to make a supernatural mystery, completely ignoring most everything that happens in the last 85% of the film.
The trailers for Sideways made it seem like a slap-stick comedy, which left me surrounded by a group of unhappy people when I saw it. Instead it's a dark drama/comedy detailing the depressing antics of two maladjusted friends. Sandra Oh's beating of Thomas Haden Church is actually quite brutal when seen in context.
Much to the bafflement of fans, an airing of The Sixth Sense on ABC had an ad campaign making it look like a tragic love story between Dr. Malcom Crowe and his widow Anna. While there is a love story in the film, it's actually a paranormal mystery movie about a doctor trying to help a boy who is traumatized by visitations of troubled spirits, as those of us who have seen the movie already knew. One would wonder the reaction of people who were watching the airing based on the ad's lie.
In one of the dumbest marketing moves possible, the trailer for the indie drama Sleepwalking seems like a sugary "heartwarming" family-oriented movie like what is often seen on The Hallmark Channel. Probably not the best marketing strategy for a fairly gritty R-rated movie. Unsurprisingly the movie tanked at the box office.
The trailer for Slumdog Millionaire makes it look like a happy love-and-success story, using only the shot of the kid with his girl to the tune of "The Sun Always Shines On TV". It completely fails to touch on how hellish his life is to that point. A poster also advertises the movie as "Two hours of unbelievable happiness!".
Parodied in Smokin' Aces. The trailer begins by suggesting it would be some sort of sappy romance, then abruptly switches to a frenetic action montage more fitting for a movie about competing assassins. The film itself was much slower paced and dramatic than the trailers suggested.
However, Smokin' Aces had the single most honest trailer I have ever seen in my life:
"Here are the words the New York Times uses to describe Smokin' Aces: Blam, blam, blam, expletive, expletive, PLOT TWIST, FBI, expletive, blam blam blam, ROLL CREDITS."
Disney's film Snow Dogs was marketed with scenes of the title animals talking and joking, cartoon style - which occurs only during a Dream Sequence had by Cuba Gooding Jr.'s main character.
In the trailer for The Social Network, the soundbite of Mark Zuckerberg being read his charges ("You are being accused of intentionally breaching security, violating copyrights, violating individual privacy...") gives the impression that he's being accused of doing all of this by making Facebook. It's actually the Harvard Ad Board referring to Facemash, an unrelated website that he created in college.
Of the two trailers that were made for Solaris, one made it look like an action-adventure, the other focused on the romance story. The film may have failed due to audiences expecting such types of movies, instead of the philosophical, dialogue-heavy film it turned out to be.
Obviously meant for someone not familiar with Stanislaw Lem's original novel.
The film Something Borrowed has a great deal of comic elements in the previews, making it seem like a comedy. In fact, these seem to be the only upbeat parts of the film.
Sorcerer was marketed as a supernatural thriller since it was produced just after The Exorcist (which shared William Friedkin as director). In fact, it's a non-supernatural action thriller. To be fair, the title itself is already very misleading.
The trailer for Spaced Invaders, while indeed marketing the film for what it was (a silly family action/comedy), featured completely different dialogue from what was in the film.
During the promotion of a network broadcast of Spanglish, Adam Sandler screams in his typical wacky fashion at super-sexy Spaniard Paz Vega, completely misrepresenting the tone of the film. He's actually the Only Sane Man of the family (really!) and that was his outburst from all the frustration finally boiling over.
While it does accurately convey the basic plot and tone of the movie, the trailer for The Specials has a couple of misleading elements: Melissa Joan Hart is prominently featured and listed among the main cast: she has a one-scene cameo with about five lines of dialogue. Also, it shows a sequence where each of the main characters comes out of the base poised for action, including some special effect shots. While this does happen in the movie, it's not until the very end, and we never actually see any of the superheroes fight any crime in the film itself.
Spider-Man 3 had a TV spot/trailer for it made which made it seem like Spidey had the black suit for about half an hour before Venom came in and became the film's major villain. Clips of police officers shooting upwards and Symbiote Spider-Man swinging about were cut together with clips of Peter being smashed through buildings and dodging debris, giving the impression that Venom and Spider-Man would have epic, city-wide battles. Of course, Venom was a very minor character, in comparison to New Goblin and Sandman, and even Gwen Stacey had more screen time. He appeared only at the very end of the film, and was killed off after a short appearance. The character didn't survive even one night within the film's universe, and was completely annihilated in an explosion. Here it is.
One trailer for Spider-Man 2 actually used scenes from the movie to make it look like Peter Parker admits he is Spider-Man. He reveals voluntarily to just one person (Dr. Octopus) in the movie.
And lest we forget, a trailer for the first Spider-Man had a scene never shown in theaters, in which Spidey's web ensnares a helicopter.
Splice. The trailer promises two hours of a demon homunculus eating people and wreaking havoc. Actual movie? An introspective on bad parenting.
Stardust's trailer focuses on the word "ooh" so much that it appears to be something like Witches of Eastwick focusing on middle aged female spellcasters who like to get naked, and the rest of the trailer at least lets you know this is somewhere in the fantasy action genre. It might have driven away its intended audience.
It also features a scene where all three of the witches are young when only one of them was in the movie.
Spoofed in an ad for Starship Troopers on Showtime. The trailer begins by making it seem like a normal coming of age story before the transition, "... as a young man learns what he was born to do... kick the crap out of man eating alien mutant bugs!" as it switches to the action scenes.
A real trailer showed what was apparently an early mockup for the special effects of a space scene. In the trailer, the Earth is the "Blue Marble" photo from the Apollo 17. The actual film shows an original global depiction of Earth (or at least a less recognizable stock image).
Who can forget the early trailer for Star Trek: Generations? It gave the impression that Captain Kirk comes aboard the Enterprise-D to help Picard and his crew fight off a Klingon Bird of Prey. Of course, it probably jolted audiences when they actually saw the film and witnessed what happened to Kirk.
The trailer for Star Trek: Generations is basically one huge lie (or 'alternative interpretation'). It seems to give off the idea that Kirk and Picard team up in their ships to "save the universe" when what they basically do is save 230 million people (who we never see) by whaling on Malcolm McDowell. Then Kirk literally gets a bridge dropped on him.
The early trailer for Star Trek: First Contact featured footage from the TNG series, including of the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise-D, presumably because the producers didn't want to reveal the look of the new Enterprise-E at that time. Additionally, the trailers makes Picard's line "The line must be drawn HERE!!!" look like a Badass Boast, when, actually, it's part of Picard's Sanity Slippage. And they played up the prospect of an all-out Federation invasion by the Borg, when, in fact, there's only one ship targeting Earth.
Star Trek implied a Kirk/Uhura romance when, in actuality, she's already in a relationship with Spock. Lines are used out of context as well (for example, the splicing of the villain's lines "James T. Kirk was a great man" and "but that was another life!). The scene where Kirk takes the captain's chair looks like a dramatic moment in the trailer, but it's actually Played for Laughs in the film, as the crew are in disbelief that the annoying, brash kid is now in command, since they were unaware that Pike had promoted him moments earlier in case of capture.
One of the 1977 taglines of the original Star Wars, now known as A New Hope, was "No legendary adventure of the past could be as exciting as this romance of the future." Ironically, Star Wars actually is set in the past: "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."
Much of the 1977 advertising implied or outright stated that Luke and Leia get together. Not that you could blame the marketers of the time for not knowing how that would work out. There's a 1977 TV spot included on the DVD, labeled "Forbidden Love," which focuses entirely on this. ("Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. In Danger! In Love! In ''Star Wars''!")
State of Play does a good job of showing the plot of a political murder mystery, but it makes you think the victim was shot and killed by a professional assassin. She was really pushed in front of a train by a professional assassin. Someone else is shot. Both murders are early enough in the movie to not be a spoiler.
The trailers for the movie Stranger Than Fiction made it out to be another wacky Will Ferrell comedy, when nearly all the humorous scenes were shown in the trailer. The tone of the movie was actually fairly serious.
Which isn't to say that it's not funny. It's hilarious, but relies more on smart humor then on the slap-stick Ferrell is known for. But the trailer uses music that isn't used in the movie, misrepresents many scenes that are more serious, and if you didn't know beforehand you'd swear that the trailer was hinting at a romance between Eiffel and Krick.
The trailers for Struck By Lightning conveniently leave out the fact that the entire movie is told in flashback sequences after the main character is killed by lightning in the first scene.
Stuart Little is a criminal offender. Several commercials show Stuart flying a plane or fighting the cat and other cool things, but none of that happens in the film. But it does happen in the ending credits as a montage for what happens after the story is over.
Many of the trailers for Sunshine made it appear as a typical "ill-fated excursion" movie, except IN SPACE!. Although the film did have elements of that, the trailers didn't advertise a movie that provided a character study of a group of people tasked with sacrificing their lives for the good of mankind.
Sunshine Cleaning's trailer makes the film look a bit more light-hearted and comedic than it actually is. It also splices together dialogue from different parts of the film to make it look like they're part of one scene, though this is something even more honest trailers do frequently.
Super 8's first teaser trailer makes the film look more like a sci fi horror type movie with a more vicious looking creature than the more family friendly, Spielberg throwback the film ended up being. Later trailers were more honest about the tone of the film .
The first trailer for Superman Returns consists entirely of footage of a teenage Clark experimenting with his powers, Martha Kent checking out a mysterious meteor in her back yard, and Lois Lane meeting Superman on a rooftop and looking shocked—all set to Jor-El's narration about why he's sending Kal-El to Earth. This gave a lot of people the impression that the movie was a remake of Superman instead of its latest sequel. The fact that the title hadn't yet been revealed (the posters and trailer just showed the Superman logo on a blue background) didn't help.
The publicity campaign for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street said nothing about it being a musical. The trailer also showed several scenes out of context, changing their meaning. A random trial appears as Sweeney's. A scene in an asylum appears as Sweeney in prison. And eye spying on Joanna appears to spy on Sweeney. And Lovett's line "but what are we going to do about him?", coming after the song "Epiphany" instead appears to come after Sweeney's At last my arm is complete line.
To be fair, the first trailer featured a clip of Johnny Depp singing a section of "Epiphany," making it fairly clear that there would be singing in the film, even if it wasn't obvious that it would be a full-on musical.
The film Syriana was marketed as though it were an almost Mad Max-esque thriller set Twenty Minutes into the Future, and was full of stuff blowing up. In fact, the film was a ensemble piece on the effects of oil politics on a whole swath of people from totally divergent backgrounds.
The UK trailer for Tamara Drewe is yet another one that disguises the film as something funnier than it is. At the end of the trailer, two characters are walking past each other, greeting each other, and then calling each other a "twat" or an "asshole". This dialogue is not in the movie; instead they just communicate more generously, since it is more of a drama than a comedy. The U.S. trailer featured this clip without dialogue.
The trailer for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (along with the title itself) implied that the movie would be mainly about the struggle between human underdogs and ascendant machines after Judgment Day—showing among other things a scene of ragtag humans carrying a tattered American flag on a battlefield, which turned out to be part of a rather brief scene of a possible future. The film itself ended as Judgment Day was happening.
The trailers for Thor made it look like Thor got banished in the first ten minutes of the movie and the rest of the plot took place on Earth. In actuality, about half the plot takes place on Asgard.
Also, Loki was featured in only one or two shots in all of the trailers, and when he does appear, he seems a bit like the tag-along younger brother, which he is, until his Start of Darkness. This may have helped create the strong audience reaction to Loki—non-comics fans probably didn't expect him to have a major part, and comics fans probably didn't expect him to be portrayed as sympathetically as he was.
In yet ANOTHER George Clooney example, the trailer for Three Kings presented it as a straightforward action/adventure film. Viewers probably didn't expect torture, murder of civilians, questioning of the USA's role in Iraq, and realistic depiction of gunshot wounds.
The trailer for the Matthew McConaughey/Kate Beckinsale disaster Tiptoes plays up the notion that the whole film is a quirky comedy about a woman realizing that her boyfriend's family is comprised of dwarves, the wacky misadventures that follow and the couple's realization that she's pregnant. This, coupled with an out-of-character turn by Gary Oldman as the man's wisecracking brother, would lead you to believe that this would be (at the very least) funny. (You would also be forgiven if you thought the film was made in the mid '90s, judging by the trailer. It's not: it was made in 2003.) In actuality, Tiptoes involves Beckinsale's character not only working to further the rights of "the little people," but also deciding to start a relationship with her lover's brother near the end of the film because he has rejected his dwarf child. There are also plot threads that go nowhere (Peter Dinklage, who's seen in the trailer, is given very little screen time, and exists merely to hammer home the fact that dwarves can have relationships with normal-sized people).
Ah, Towelhead. Based on the trailer and title, you'd think it's a coming of age comedy about a young Arab girl dealing with racism and restrictive parents while growing up. Actually it's a very Squicky film about a girl's sexual awakening as she goes through puberty, with racism only a mild element. As for being a comedy, basically any scene in the film that can elicit even a chuckle is in the trailer. And many of them aren't at all funny in context in the actual film.
A minor one in the trailer for The Town. Many people falsely took it as an example of Trailers Always Spoil as the trailer presents the events as Rebecca Hall is stressed about being at a bank robbery, hooks up with Ben Affleck and in a plot twist, Ben Affleck is one of the bank robbers. In the film, the audience knows that Ben Affleck is a bank robber from the very beginning. The film is shown from his point of view, not Rebecca Hall's.
The Transformers series has plenty of this as well. The original teaser trailers for the first two films made them look far darker in tone than what they actually were, especially the second film, which really was supposed to be the darker installment. It ended up filled with humor and some of the most juvenile comedy available. Needless to say, the first film was much better in this regard.
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is an equally bad offender, but for understandable reasons — the trailers and promo material tried to build up Shockwave as the main villain. In reality, he has next to no story importance, and his actions can be summarized with "having a cameo in Chernobyl, then walking down a street in Chicago and getting killed". The true villain is Sentinel Prime, but his Face-Heel Turn being the big plot-twist in the middle of the film, they of course didn't want to spoil this.
To a lesser degree, Optimus Prime himself also came off as something of a bad guy with the trailers focusing on him being mad at the humans, slaughtering other robots and delivering the line "We will kill them all!" Actually, he was simply pissed-off, but still a good guy.
An early trailer for The Truman Show did exactly the same, focusing mainly on the scene where Truman sings to himself in the bathroom mirror.
The trailer for Unstoppable would have you believe that the runaway train was carrying not only hazardous material, but also two passenger cars full of schoolchildren, who are in constant danger of being either blown to bits or crushed to death. In reality, the kids are on a different train and are safe and sound 15 minutes into the film.
Also, the trailers make the film seem more thrilling than it actually is. The real film is more of a drama with a few action elements.
George Clooney's film Up in the Air has Clooney saying many life-affirming quotes in voiceover, making it appear that he's some sort of frequent-flier-mile-happy life coach a la Love Happens. A later trailer reveals the character is the complete opposite: he's "hired by companies to fire people when they don't have the balls to do it themselves," and the young airline stewardess-like woman is his protégé. He does make money by being a life coach on the side, but this is more of a subplot.
In order to explain what one of the characters does later, in the film Used Cars, there is a scene where it tells how honest they are, Kurt Russell says to a woman, "I want you to get up on that stand, and lie." While she does in fact do this, that scene never appears in the film.
The trailer to Vulgar somehow managed to make the films seem lighthearted.
The Wanted movie trailer has the male and female leads kissing. It looked like they were going to be romantically involved but it was just a fake kiss to show up his ex-girlfriend, and their only kiss in the movie. There is also no indication whatsoever that the film is based on a graphic novel, nor is there any mention of it: a relatively easy thing to gloss over, given the film's omission of the costumes worn in the source material. And of course the movie actually had almost nothing to do with the book.
Warriors of Virtue looked like a serious martial arts fantasy movie. It took until Harry Potter to realize kids movies don't have to be cheesy. Like The Forbidden Kingdom.
In a trailer of The Warrior's Way, one of the main characters said "ninjas...damn". It became a fairly popular phrase, but is never used in the actual scene in the actual movie.
The Watchmen trailer makes it look makes it look like Dr. Manhattan, not Rorschach, is the point of view character.
More so it makes Rorschach look like the villain, ending the trailer with the line: the world will look up and shout "save us" and I'll whisper "no". Also every trailer and summary for the movie features the whole "superheroes are being killed off" bit when in fact the Comedian is the only one who is killed by an assassin, the rest all being retired (or dead already).
Might be interpreted as a bit of Fridge Brilliance in the case of Rorschach: For people who haven't read the original graphic novel, it attempts (intentionally or not) to derail the whole Misaimed Fandom thing from the start.
The trailers were very action oriented. It seems like every action shot in the movie made it into the trailer, making the movie seem more action packed than it was, which pissed off a fair few filmgoers.
Water Horse trailers suggested it would be a kiddy film about a boy and his cute little water dragon, in the tone of Babe. One trailer even showed the bulldog saying it was the titular horse's "best friend". Sure, the movie starts out this way, but for the most part it's a lot more gritty than that, especially when the water horse grows up. It nearly kills the boy, and devours all the lake's wildlife. Towards the end, Drill Sergeant Nasty mistakes the water horse for an enemy sub and nearly kills him and the boy. Oh, and remember that bulldog who is supposedly the horse's best friend? Towards the end, when the water horse goes berserk, he swallows the dog whole and then tries to kill the owner. Make one wonder if the marketing people even watched the movie, there wasn't any hint of friendship between the dog and the water horse. The dog spends the earlier part of the film trying to catch the water horse when it's a baby, and then spend the end of the film in the water horse's belly. Combine all that with a boy who is counting down the days when his father will come home from the war, only to slowly realize his father is never coming back since he's dead and it's far from the happy go lucky mood of the trailer. That said, that doesn't make it a depressing film and there are some heartwarming moments.
The Way of the Gun's misleading trailer made it look as though it was going to be a farcical comedy, when in fact the movie itself is a fairly sullen action flick.
The trailer for the film version of Where the Wild Things Are makes it look like it'd be a fun, cute kid's adventure movie about a little boy who befriends a bunch of monsters. The actual film, however, is pretty depressing.
Whiteout is insinuated in the trailer to be a sci-fi style horror film. It's more along the lines of a slasher/thriller film.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit trailers had the scene where Roger gets a load of bricks dropped on him, but with a line of dialog that occurred slightly earlier in the scene. Some trailers included the "I'm a pig!" scene, which was cut from the film.
The trailer for Wicker Park is cut to seem like Fatal Attraction mixed with 'Stalker with a Crush' film, but in fact, it is a psychological drama about a man searching for his ex-girlfriend after he thinks he sees her two years after she disappeared. 'Love Makes You Crazy' in this film, but not in the expected ways.
The trailers for The Wrestler made it out to be a bit of a modern Rocky, and one of those "sad person gets his or her life back together, heartwarming ensues," movies. It's actually quite the subversion - wrestling is his highly self-destructive form of escapism from his crappy life, which he tries and fails to get back together, then kills himself fighting in the ring.
The domestic trailer for The X-Files: I Want to Believe showed a Monster of the Week-style plot, matching decently to the movie. The international trailer went out of its way to pretend it was about aliens — it had blurry lights in the distance (actually car headlights) with reaction shots (from different scenes) and minimized the shots of the psychic and actual villains.
Minor example: TV commercials for X-Men Origins: Wolverine would feature some of the other mutants in the movie, with one of them noting Emma Frost. Her role in the movie is to turn into diamond at one point, making her more of a cameo than the semi-major character the commercial played her up to be.
This has happened with other characters like Deadpool as well. Some comments have been made about the TV Spots saying how ridiculous it is that a whole 30 seconds said more about the characters than their screen time throughout the entire film.
Most of the trailers for Young Frankenstein contain a scene that's not in the movie showing Fredrick, Inga and Igor in a room together with a book. Fredrick says, "I guess we can all use a little laugh," then they all get scared by a lightning strike. This scene isn't even included on the Deleted Scenes portion of the DVD!
The trailers for Your Highness make James Franco and Natalie Portman out to be equal billing with star/co-writer Danny McBride. In actuality, most of Franco's screen time takes place in the middle of the film and Portman doesn't show up for the first 45 minutes. Fourth-billed Zooey Deschanel is nothing more than an extended cameo (which somehow became an Averted Trope as she was barely in the trailers).
The trailer for Youth in Revolt made it look like Nick's family is living in a trailer home, when really, they were only staying in the trailer during the summer.