Teaser trailers are the first glimpse we get of an upcoming film. Most are very careful about what they show ensuring enough mystery is left for the film, or at least the next trailer. Some choose not to use any of the final footage at all, opting for what’s known as a “special shoot trailer”. These self-contained, short films give a taste of the film without spoiling a single scene.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
We follow the assembly line of a T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger as it’s constructed and layered with skin, before he flexes his arm and opens his devilish red eyes. Director James Cameron didn’t want the first trailer to be just early footage and so asked effects guru Stan Winston to helm this teaser. It was made with a budget of $150,000 and has gone on to become one of the most popular teaser trailers to date.
Jurassic Park (1993)
This teaser opens with a team of miners extracting chunks of amber from the rock. We then cut to a microscope and zoom in down the scope and into a mosquito, before the famous logo appears on screen. Trailers that followed with film footage only showed glimpses of the dinosaurs which is a common trope for Steven Spielberg films, continuing the tease ahead of the films release.
It feels like a scene from Heat (1995) or the start of The Dark Knight (2008) as a team of criminals rob a New York bank. They escape by helicopter believing they are free, but soon find themselves caught in a web between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. After the 9/11 attacks the trailer was pulled from cinemas along with a promotional poster featuring the towers. The film became the first to pass $100 million dollars in a single weekend.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Stars Michael Caine and Steve Martin stroll along the French Riviera silently passing people, until Martin pushes an old lady into the water. The teaser came about when the studio wanted to promote the film before enough footage had been shot and so director Frank Oz spent an entire day shooting this simple, yet very effective, clip. The film itself is a remake of Bedtime Story (1964) starring Marlon Brando and David Niven.
As a group of bored looking school children are escorted around a museum by their dull teacher, they look up at a T-Rex skeleton just as tremors roll through the building. Suddenly a giant foot smashes through the glass ceiling crushing the skeleton, of course that foot belongs to Godzilla. The teaser was shown a whole year before the film’s release, costing $600,000 and was a dig at the previous years The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Opening on a shot of space, we move down into a mysterious spaceship, into a set very similar to that of the Death Star, the sounds of deep heavy breathing in the background. Sitting up ahead in the distance with their back toward us is…Dr Evil (Mike Myers) as he spins around to remark “You were expecting someone else?”. The trailer was unusual in that it openly suggested you see Star Wars which would be released that same summer.