There are many times that I wish that the Studio marketing machines would only put out an awesome teaser for any given film. When a teaser is done well it can peak your interest in a film and make you giddy with excitement. This Teaser for 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' was all I needed to go and buy a ticket on the first night of release.
I also remember being equally excited by Barry Levinson's 'Toys'. They let Robin Williams loose and it was enough for me to want to see it without knowing a thing about it. I haven't seen the film in a long time but do remember that it seems a little prophetic with the predator drones dropping bombs on people with their pilots in an arm chair somewhere.
This teaser for Jerry Seinfeld's 'Comedian' was pitch perfect. It inspired a lot of copy cats.
Most recently Christopher Nolan's 'Inception' came out with a great teaser. No need for a big explanation (although it seems that it wouldn't help anyway). Nolan seems to be the smartest guy in the room these days and it's worked out well for him. For me, the teaser is enough.
I'm not naive enough to think the studio would gamble their entire fortunes on a vague trailer. There is a lot of money invested and you want to get the most exposure. Fair enough. However, compare these teasers to those trailers that run for three minutes and give you the entire film beat by beat only holding back the surprise ending that you can figure out will go one way or the other. There is an old saying that 'Less is More'. You know, 'keep it simple'. Consider the 1999 thriller 'Arlington Road'. It was a decent thriller with two top notch actors (Tim Robbins and Jeff Bridges) and the marketing department ruined the film for many people by giving away all of the surprises. What do we love about a well-crafted thriller? Surprises!! I remember the filmmakers being perturbed about how much of the movie was given away in just a two and a half minutes. You can hear the viewers conversation now, "I don't need to see this film, they just showed me everything". And you know the filmmakers edited this for months, crafting every story beat and every thrill. I imagine there were many sleepless nights, kept awake second guessing whether or not it was working. Well, it didn't matter that much if you saw the trailer first.
I waited until it came out on video before giving it a shot. The film pretty much broke even at the box office and I suspect that, given a better trailer, would have exceeded that easily. Just look at the juggernaut that 'The Sixth Sense' became with that pull the rug out beneath the audience surprise ending. 'Arlington Road' was dead in the water before it even hit the theatres.
The only way I know how to combat such moronic and uninspired marketing is to cover your ears, close your eyes and mumble to yourself until it's over (la la la, I'm not listening).