10 Really Misleading Movie Trailers

Tom Butler - do not use
Senior UK Writer

Trailers are a tricky business. 

They have to pack a lot of information into a very short amount of time, entice us in without giving too much away, and thrill us without spoiling the movie’s best moments, so it’s not surprising that trailer makers sometimes get it wrong.

Sweeney Todd

The second trailer for Tim Burton’s 2007 musical horror included no songs or signing at all. If you’d only seen this trailer and had no prior knowledge of the Stephen Sondheim musical on which it’s based, sitting down in the cinemas only to find all the actors bursting into song would probably have come as a bit of a surprise.

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Disney’s ‘Into The Woods’ played a similar trick in 2014 when the first teaser trailer arrived without a hint of its musical origins.

Snow Dogs

If there’s one thing kids love more than movies about dogs, it’s movies with TALKING dogs, which is exactly what this trailer for Disney’s ‘Snow Dogs’ suggests we’ll get.

However the scene in the trailer, which sees the film’s titular huskies chattering away, is from a short dream sequence in the film. The dogs themselves are just mute animals for the vast majority. Cue lots of disappointed kids… and exasperated parents.

Frozen

The mega-success of Disney’s ‘Frozen’ belies its troubled development that saw the plot change direction numerous times throughout production.

Because of this uncertainty (Elsa was the villain at one point) this early teaser trailer actually shows zero footage from the final picture, instead we get a slapstick comedy sequence featuring Olaf and Sven. It’s a perfectly serviceable trailer, but it’s more ‘Ice Age’ than the magical story of sisterly love that we got in the finished film.

Observe and Report

Seth Rogen was on a roll after the success of slacker comedies ‘Superbad’, ‘Pineapple Express’ and ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’, so you can’t blame the marketing bods on ‘Observe and Report’ for wanting to capitalise on his popularity.

The first trailer pitches it as another knockabout Rogen comedy but anyone who’s actually seen the film will know, it’s far, FAR from that. The film is actually a pitch black comedy about a man struggling with bi-polar disorder that features date rape, substance abuse, and brutal violence, all of which the trailer conveniently side-steps. 

Drive

As far as we know, this is the only trailer here that actually inspired a lawsuit for misleading audiences. In 2011, Michigan resident Sarah Deming filed a lawsuit against the distributors of critically acclaimed Ryan Gosling film ‘Drive’.

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She believed the trailer promised high-octane ‘Fast and Furious’ style action, but instead Nicolas Winding Refn’s film “bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film … having very little driving in the motion picture”. She also claimed the film was “anti-Semitic propaganda”, which eventually lead to the case being thrown out of court by the judge.

Inglourious Basterds

The first trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist World War II drama sells it as a bombastic action film with a heavy rock soundtrack. 

The finished film though has much more to offer. Melanie Laurent’s Shoshanna, the film’s main protagonist, barely gets a look in here, and the film’s many talk-heavy scenes are completely absent. In this case, the trailer completely misses the point. ‘Jarhead’ and ‘The Road’ pulled similar tricks, promising heavy action, instead of the brooding introspective films they really were.

Alien 3

The development of ‘Alien 3’ was a tortuous process for 20th Century Fox. A number of writers and directors were attached before David Fincher was drafted in at the 11th hour to shoot the film from an unfinished script.

This early teaser trailer is testament to the confusion that surrounded the project right from its conception. “In 1979 we discovered, in space, no-one can hear you scream,” intones the voiceover, “In 1992 we will discover, on Earth, everyone can hear you scream.” Except, that in Alien 3, the story occurs on a prison planet millions of miles away from Earth.

Chappie

The people in charge of marketing ‘Chappie’ clearly had a tricky time figuring out the best way to sell this sci-fi curio as each trailer seemed to pitch a completely different style of movie.

One minute it looked like an action film, the next a sweet ‘Short Circuit’ style drama, the next; a full on comedy. Funnily enough, the finished film was a weird mix of all three, but one thing that was definitely missing from the trailers was emphasis on Ninja and Yolandi, the divisive Die Antwoord rappers who feature heavily in the film.

The Grey

Trailers for ‘The Grey’ promised an all-action survival thriller with Liam Neeson literally fist-fighting with a wolf. What Joe Carnahan’s film actually delivered was a pensive, cerebral meditation on grief with a heartbreaking performance from the recently bereaved Neeson.

This is not what people were expecting from the pair who brought us ‘The A-Team’.

Predators

All the trailers for the third ‘Predator’ film (‘AVP’ doesn’t count) featured a rather awesome looking scene that saw Adrien Brody’s buff Royce targeted by dozens of Predators. Finally, we all thought, the franchise is going to deliver on the promise teased in ‘Predator 2’. We’re going to see huge swathes of Predators working together.

However, that scene doesn’t actually happen in the film that was released into cinemas. Instead, there are just three Predators they have to fight off. What a con!  

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