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Nick and Austin’s Trailer Competition

A Brief and Edited Preview

of a

Longer Upcoming Attraction

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 Austin Lugar:

 A month ago I went onto good ole Twitter.com to join the masses in giving my brief and inconsequential thoughts on the Captain America: Civil War trailer. I was positive but I mentioned that I didn’t need to see any new trailers; I’m sold on that movie. And then, you Mr. Nick Rogers, tweeted back at me that started a conversation that will change the course of the rest our year. Perhaps, our entire lives. Nick, what are we doing, why are we doing this and most importantly, why are we doing this?

 

Nick Rogers:

My tweet must have been persuasive, Austin. For in less than 140 characters, I persuaded you to join me in a challenge to see the fewest film trailers in 2016.

Yes, the fewest film trailers.

The wager is low: He who sees the fewest trailers through December 31st shall be treated to a movie by the other. But the stakes are so very, very high.

It bums me out whenever a hilarious punchline, a thrilling moment of narrow escape, or intensely dramatic line of dialogue dies with an audience … simply because they’ve seen it in a trailer 15 times. I’ve had that reaction. I’ve also been guilty of fixating that So-and-So will escape from Wherever with Whatshername to fight Whatshistoes because I’ve not yet seen “that scene from the trailer.”

And those of you reading this now realize: So have you.

Nothing against you and nothing against trailers. You are great. Trailers … can be.

But isn’t it sad when a marvelous movie moment that would otherwise surprise us fails to do so only because it’s been marketed to us a million times over? Not only that, there’s a cottage industry for “thinkpieces” to immediately dissect trailers for Easter eggs and decode not only what will happen in that movie but a film that doesn’t even hit theaters until 2020.

All of this is no fun.

So, Austin, why are we doing this? To reinstate a sense of discovery to the movies we see, to feel enveloped by entertainment rather than anticipating piecemeal moments from it, and to restore to the moviegoing experience more excitement, surprise … and fun.

To those of you reading this: Feel free to join us. You won’t be part of our competition, but Austin and I are certain it will make us all happier viewers.

The rules:

  1. It’s on the honor system. But we are honorable men. Thus, we’re good.
  2. Each trailer view counts; watching one trailer 18 times counts 18 times.
  3. TV commercials count as trailers for they embody spoilers we hope to avoid.
  4. Trailers for movies you’ve already seen DO NOT count toward the total.
  5. Watching a film’s trailer AFTER seeing it DOES NOT count toward the total.
  6. Trailers for TV series are OK; Austin’s Doctor Who obsession will not be held against him. This time.

 

Austin:

These are the rules; these are the stakes. But the main reason I wanted to write this little back and forth is to look to the future. In 12 months we’ll see how we did but how do you think we’re going to do? What do you think will be the trickiest elements? Right now I have the possibly naive belief that I will see 0 trailers. Once we pitched this in December, I stopped watching trailers online. I did see a few more in theatres because I went to go see some movies.

That’s the part that I’m worried about. I’m literally leaving my house in 15 minutes to go see Carol and I have to make the decision whether to wait in the hallway or I’m going to try my method of putting in earbuds and closing my eyes in the seats.

I feel I will be a lot better about avoiding enticing links online than I would be for the awkwardness of being in the movie theatre. You do have a slight advantage on me in that film critic screenings don’t have previews in front of them. But I also know you see a good number of movies in theatres that aren’t screenings.

My last concern are the independent films. Without even a second of footage, I can still have a decent guess what Doctor Strange will be like. But there were a number of films I saw this year that I had never heard of before entirely from the trailers from The Music Box or the Gene Siskel Film Center. I already blindly take chances on films but I might to take more of them without that

How do you think this is going to be? Do you think it’s going to be 12 months or work or will it be second nature in just a little bit? Are you worried about being that guy who always has to tell people they’re not seeing trailers when the conversation turns that way? I am.

 

Nick:

We’re both going to do great! I suspect neither of us will break double digits.

The only work will be figuring out a system. For the record, I hope you chose to jam your fingers in your ears and chant before Carol. After a few weeks, I suspect it becomes second nature; I, too, stopped watching online trailers after proposing this.

You’re right: There are rarely trailers before critic screenings. But I pay for plenty of movies. The trickiest part, as you said, is going to be those instances at the theater. For the most part, I have determined how many minutes of trailers run after posted start times at my local theater chain. There’s only one chain where I live, which makes their patterns predictable; you would have multiple chains to memorize.

That said, unless you’re ponying up for reserved seating (not an option near me), sometimes you have to get there early. My wife already said she’s not going to the movies with me this year. Assuming (hoping) she’s bluffing, I will call upon her great seat-saving skills. A side rule for me: I will not have her text me when trailers are over; in addition to an unfair advantage, it creates the new problem of somebody whipping out their phone in a dark theater.

As for the social part, I’ve already told a lot of friends about this. Some of them plan to join in. Others think I’m crazy. Maybe I am crazy.

CRAZY ABOUT WINNING. And enjoying movies more, too.

Austin:

First of all, Carol was incredible.

And this was a good testing for what the rest of the year would look like. I got there basically when the movie was supposed to start. The ticket person said there are 10 minutes of previews but I don’t know if that was an exact number. I hung out in the lobby for a bit and then went in 8 minutes after it said it was going to start. Of course it was a packed theatre on a Saturday afternoon because I keep forgetting how awesome Chicago audiences are. I kept my headphones in and kept listening to a podcast as I found a spot in the back and in the middle. Alas, the trailer that was on was not the last one. So as soon as the green MPAA screen came up, I turned up my headphones and kept my head down and my eyes shut. I focused on the words of the podcast and I didn’t make out what was being said aloud. I truly don’t know what that was a trailer for; I’m sure I looked insane to the two women I was sitting in-between.

Time will surely tell how the rest of the year will go. The game is on Mr. Rogers.


 

January Update

Austin: One month in and this is such an annoying thing we’re doing. It’s not because I’m desperate to watch a clip of X-Men, but it’s annoying to try and avoid everything. Trailers are freakin’ everywhere. It’s not just a Hollywood thing; it’s an advertising culture. This challenge can happen just the same for car commercials or insurance ads. We are basically forbidden to limit our exposure. It’s one thing before a movie in the cinema, because that’s a worthy tradition in my mind. I now find watching any show on my DVR or on a streaming site to be a nuisance because I have to keep covering my eyes when I see an ad in a certain aspect ratio with famous faces. Then my eyes are closed too long and now I have to rewind more. Restaurants with TVs want use them to catch your eye and now I’m self-conscious of that half-second because I’m trying to refuse a fraction of all ads.

Carol

I now have a better pattern for dealing with all of this than the first half of the month. I only saw two films in theatres (Carol and Mustang) and that was fine to wait in the lobby for a bit. Tomorrow I’m seeing Son of Saul and I’m sure it’ll be a similar experience. I find myself actively choosing shows on Netflix than my DVR just so I can sit and relax and watch them This year may not be as much of a challenge of avoiding spoilers, but just trying to defy Advertising of America.

Trailers Austin Wishes He Could Watch: Keanu, Lo and Behold Reveries of the Connected World and Nine Lives.

Nick: After a month, I remain trailer-and TV-spot free! I have so more energy, awake refreshed every day and have already learned seven different languages. OK, maybe I’m just high on the gamesmanship of it all. My closest call: A quick glimpse of Robert De Niro smiling in Dirty Grandpa on an unskippable Hulu ad, but I jammed my ears, shut my eyes and began babbling (which I’m guessing is akin to the experience of watching Dirty Grandpa anyway). To that end, I’ve not yet seen a 2016 theatrical film for which I haven’t already seen a trailer; 13 Hours is the only 2016 film I’ve even seen yet. My only in-theater trailers were for Mustang (on which I went ears-eyes) and Son of Saul (which I’ve already seen but still went ears-eyes).

Blind

However, I did go in, uh, blind for Blind, Z for Zachariah, Nasty Baby, We Are Still Here and Finders Keepers this year — all going on only what I knew from a synopsis. The first and last of those, especially, were astounding discoveries made richer by the fact they were unspoiled. But it has been tough to not click on a few trailers, so here are five that it’s kind of killing me to not watch:

Trailers Nick Wishes He Could Watch: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Keanu, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Nice Guys, and Nine Lives.

January’s Score

Austin: 0 Nick: 0


February Update

Nick: 

Month 2 of clean living … cinematically speaking!

By not watching the Super Bowl, I avoided the lure that you, Austin, flirted with early in the month. I told you hosting a Super Bowl party (as you did) was akin to someone walking straight from an AA meeting to a toga party. To quote Dabney Coleman from “Dragnet”: “Thon, you got ballth ath big ath choich bellth.”

Some notes from Month 2:

I’ve never seen a theater as crowded at 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday as that for Deadpool on opening weekend. Big ups to my wife, Abby, and our friend Sara for saving seats while I waited out the trailers on a lobby bench. (Surprisingly, Abby expressed interest in Hardcore Henry, a first-person-POV action film of which I’ve seen not a whit but am anticipating.) Also, maybe it’s in poor taste, but I’ve enjoyed lobby people-watching. Case in point: The child throwing an epic tantrum and coming within a millimeter of not getting to finish Kung Fu Panda 3. Enough drama for five trailers.

Does that make me a weirdo? I know, Austin. You keep saying podcasts will allow me to sit in a theater like a normal person uninvolved in a crazy competition. But I have large headphones, so I’d look like anything but a normal person, and I lack stealth when it comes to using my device in a dark area. I’m sure I would emit some sort of hellishly bright light source and draw profane scorn from fellow patrons.

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As part of our competition, we are allowed to watch trailers after we see a film. Doing so for The Witch only reinforces my rationale for this whole rigmarole. IT SHOWS THE LAST SCENE OF THE MOVIE!

I’m most excited that the film I’ve been anticipating the most since this ban – 10 Cloverfield Lane – opens in just about a week. Outside of a couple of still frames (which tell me nothing) that I’ve seen online, I’ve seen absolutely nothing from the movie, which is exciting!

Trailers I Wish I Could Watch: Demolition, Everybody Wants Some, Hardcore Henry, Jason Bourne, The Purge: Election Year

Austin: The whole process remains annoying and it’s even worse that I’m getting better at the annoying process. Walking in listening to my podcasts in my reasonably sized headphones feels less embarrassing. Fast-forwarding the DVR with barely looking is almost second nature. But what I’m most entertained by is the little I have sorta seen from trailers.

You mentioned last month seeing DeNiro smiling. I have also seen a series of images that made me realize it’s a trailer and then I quickly cover my eyes and turn away. Apparently in Allegiant, Shailene Woodley will have some rope. There is some trailer that plays Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” that I heard over my headphones, but I don’t know which one. Tina Fey seems to look towards the camera for at least a second in Whiskey Foxtrot Tango. I think I know too much about all of these now.

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Despite hosting a small Super Bowl party, this was an easy month because the 70mm Film Festival at the Music Box didn’t have any trailers. Thank you! No thank you to AMC who lied about how long the trailers were before The Mermaid!

Trailers I Wish I Could Watch: The BossJason Bourne, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and The Nice Guys.

February’s Score

Austin: 0 Nick: 0

 

To keep track of Austin and Nick’s fierce competition check out this link.

2 Comments

  1. I’m really sad you guys can’t watch trailers because the Rogue One trailer is really great. I’ve had numerous full blown conversations just about this trailer.

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