The art of the summer movie trailer has evolved in the age of the internet, with R-rated comedies leaning harder on the web-only red band that emphasizes outrageousness, and blockbuster tentpole flicks finding it harder and harder to blow audiences away with set-pieces. But one long-standing fact remains true: a great trailer can still make or break a film's chances of making bank. Here are some of this summer's best coming attractions.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn
Godzilla is that increasingly rare example of a film's fortunes turning entirely on its trailer. Before the above teaser was released, interest in yet another Godzilla reboot from an indie Brit director no one had ever heard of. Sure, the cast is surprisingly high on the prestige scale but what more can be done with the "big monster attacks city" genre? The teaser's brilliance is multi-fold: the use of the creepy choral music from The Shining, the inimitable voice of David Strathairn, and best of all, the paratroopers dropping in on the monster from the sky, giving a whole new sense of how to display Godzilla's sheer scale.
But hey, that was a teaser trailer. Sometimes teaser trailers take the best 2 minutes of a movie, make them look even better, and convince you into suffering through the rest of the crappy affair. Godzilla knows what you're thinking:
Before this ad campaign, you probably would've had to pay me to see this film. Now, I'll be first in line.
Release Date: May 16
Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Karen Gillan, Glenn Close, Lee Pace, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Marvel has a lot on its hands with this film, the first time it's introducing a new property to audiences since Captain America: The First Avenger (and most people had heard of Captain America). Yes, that's Andy Dwyer in the lead role, and yes, he appears to be hanging out with a tree and a raccoon, but don't worry, America: this thing is going to be funny, sexy, AND action-packed, just like "Hooked on a Feeling." It both subverts and subscribes to the action sci-fi genre—with this trailer, Marvel is having its cake and eating it too.
Release Date: August 1
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Analeigh Tipton
Luc Besson hasn't directed a proper action movie since The Fifth Element. For his long-overdue return, he's recruited Scarlett Johansson, who will cement her status as an A-List ass-kicker with this bonkers "lady becomes a superhero when intestinal drugs supercharge her brain" premise. Besson and the trailer-makers set you up for his idiosyncratic brand of antics very nicely: this won't just be an action movie, nor will it be pure science fiction. But it'll have hefty dollops of both.
Release Date: August 8
22 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle
This movie has one job: be more ridiculous than the first movie. No one here is looking for The Godfather Part II. The first film was far funnier and more clever than it had any right to be, a fact Nick Offerman's character acknowledges in the first 10 seconds of this trailer. "Nobody gave a shit about the Jump Street reboot, but you got lucky." They went to high school in the first movie, so now they go to college. Ice Cube wasn't in the first movie enough, so now he's in it more. Will this capture lightning in a bottle again? Doubtful. Is this red band trailer filled with cursing and guns and beers and smashing cars into things? Yes.
Release Date: June 13
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco (again!?), Jake Johnson, Lisa Kudrow, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Hannibal Burress
Neighbors is looking to be the 21 Jump Street of 2014. At first glance, it comes off as some 11-years-late rip-off of Old School, with Rogen as a grumpy dad fighting rowdy fratboys who move next door. Zac Efron fills the role of the Channing Tatum stud actor not known for his comedy skills (yes, I saw That Awkward Moment). The red band trailer throws what are likely the film's best bits at the audience and it works. From its poster, Neighbors looks like a film to ignore; from its trailer, it looks like a gross-out comedy with sleeper hit potential.
Release Date: May 9