Why Horror Remake and Reboot Trailers Need to Stop Spoiling the Movie or Why Ryan Turek is Wrong
The great John Carpenter was interviewed about his attitude toward Hollyweird remaking his movies. I’m paraphrasing but he essentially said that studios remake his movies because they won’t have to spend as much on marketing because they already have a core audience.
Now, I don’t interact with a lot of people on Twitter because you can say, “Good Morning, have a great day” on social media and find someone who will fight with you. But, after the last “Pet Semetary” trailer, which was filled with spoilers, I caught a tweet from Mr. Ryan Turek at Blumhouse who was calling out (or playing devil’s advocate) with horror fans. Ryan, who I respect and listen to regularly on the “Shockwaves” podcast, argued that a lot of great trailers have spoilers. When I lost self-control and tweeted back a summation of the Carpenter argument, he retorted that the core audience is going to see it anyway and that the marketing department is trying to reach new people. Is he right? I respect Ryan as a fellow horror fan and metal head, but no, he is wrong!
One of the things I learned as a corporate defense lawyer working with evil INC’s (don’t hate, even Christopher Lee did “The Howling II” for a gig) is that you NEVER alienate your core audience. They are the one’s you are counting on to show up for opening weekend.
Also, you can produce compelling trailers for stories that the committed genre fan can watch without getting ticked off. Let me present a piece of evidence, you could easily edit a “Pet Semetery” ad that featured the kids in masks and that would be enough to ensure a great opening weekend. If you want to unroll spoilers for the general audience, do it after the opening weekend and then horror fanatics have no excuse.
I know that Ryan argues that ads/trailers are aimed at a wider audience: (1) if your film is strong, you will get buzz (see the original “Halloween”); and (2) if you have to spoil the film to sell it, it isn’t strong enough; (3) the idea that horror fans need to avoid trailer is like saying to an alcoholic, “hey, I’m running to the store but don’t touch the bottle on the table.” Dude, you’re a hardcore genre fanatic, you should be able to watch any promo before the opening weekend without spoiling the best parts of the movie you can’t wait to see especially when you already know the basic plot points.
I’m a horror addict but if an ad looks lame or ticks me off, then I’ll wait for it to drop to Netflix or Amazon Prime. I don’t believe I’m alone. Yes, it is true that some glorified franchises guarantee that I will check it out in the cinema regardless (e.g., “Halloween” (2018) despite the closet scene) but I’m not sure that every horror remake is strong enough to fall into that category.
In sum, if you have to spoil your movie to your core audience when you rely on them for opening weekend, you haven’t done your job. I’ll stand by that. That being said, God bless Ryan Turek for being Ryan Turek!