Why ‘The Report’ Is One of the Best Movie Trailers of 2019
Art and Experience: This trailer goes all out for awards buzz without revealing too much.
The Report was one of the biggest success stories to come out of Sundance earlier this year, when Amazon Studios purchased distribution rights for roughly $14 million — giving birth to 2019’s first Oscar contender.
Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), The Report centers on Adam Driver’s Daniel Jones, an FBI agent struggling to investigate the CIA’s real-life use of torture on those the United States suspected of being terrorists after 9/11. His unsettling (and very real) investigation brought truths to light that men in high places and dark boardrooms didn’t want out there, ultimately resulting in the CIA taking on new interrogation techniques.
The film’s second trailer achieves a JFK-level of menace and political dread as it teases the drama and intrigue of this report, strongly implying that the greatest threat to our nation can often come from within.
While trailer voiceover has become an oft-parodied trope, The Report’s second trailer shows us how effective it can be when it comes from a character (in this case, Driver’s) instead of Mr. Movie Trailer Voiceover Guy. Give it a watch below:
The voiceover — and Driver’s cold delivery — sell the tone and the world of The Report. We know exactly from the jump what type of movie this is, and what type of experience it wants to be: An adult drama about the consequences of men doing bad things in the name of the greater good. And it achieves this without (no pun intended) exposing too many key moments or set pieces best left to seeing for the first time in the theater. (Or, on Amazon Prime, when it arrives on the streaming service a few weeks after the film’s theatrical premiere.)
The trailer even finds a less-intrusive (and creative) way to weave text of the film’s critical praise in and out of increasingly-tense footage that ratchets up to the redacted title at the end. Trailers are critical pieces of marketing; they’re often as big a deal as the movie they are selling. As Hollywood studios predominately execute trailers with a “kitchen sink” approach, often showing the movie’s best moments and biggest “trailer shots” to audiences before they can see them as intended, it’s refreshing to see The Report take a “less is more” approach.
As Amazon and its competitor, Netflix, are increasingly viewed as “disruptors” of the theatrical exhibition window, they at least seem to embrace the importance of cherishing the theatrical experience by withholding from their marketing materials that which most studios build whole campaigns around. Show don’t tell; less is more. These filmmaking lessons are staples both in the production and marketing of your film.
If you want to sell your movie without giving audiences a reason to feel like they already saw most of it via movie previews, then consider The Report and its second trailer as a master class of how to get viewers hooked without compromising your vision or bottom line.
The Report opens Nov. 15 in select theaters before streaming on Prime starting two weeks later on Nov. 29.