Of the many entertainment outlets competing for our time, attention, and money, there's always been a lot at stake in the motion picture industry. Most of the movies we see displayed on neighborhood multiplex marquis cost millions to make. Successes are celebrated, while a high-profile fail can break a studio.
So how do most people decide which films are going to win our hard-earned time and cash? Movie trailers are a huge deal, and they've become even more sophisticated over the years. Bigger films now merit multiple trailers, and these little cinematic gems are often well-tested before they're released to social media or become TV commercials to ensure they tantalize us.
But do they matter? Do trailers actually motivate people to actually see a movie?
A recently conducted CBS News Poll suggests that for many Americans, trailers play a significant role. Overall, more than four in ten (44%) say trailers frequently or sometimes convince them to see a film.
And among the all-important 18-34 year-old group, a quarter (24%) say they are often motivated by trailers. And nearly six in ten (57%) say they frequently or sometimes sold on seeing a film because of its trailer. In short, a compelling, entertaining trailer – like a great radio promo – can trigger interest.
That's why there's a lot riding on trailers as a key driver of movie theater attendance. And more and more new movies are using old music – notably, Classic Rock – prominently featured in these promotional trailers.
The Drum's “Movie Marketing Blog” recently focused on this nostalgic trend in trailers in a post by Chris Thilk called “The movie studio addiction to classic rock.”
Thilk focuses on two new major releases: “Kong: Skull Island” and “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol,2,” both of which showcase highly familiar, iconic Classic Rock songs in their trailers. For “Kong: Skull Island” – a popcorn movie with a $185 million budget – it's all the way back to 1965 and the Animals' “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” It is the soundtrack of this hot trailer:
For the “Guardians” sequel, there's a lot of pressure to come close to the success the original which featured lots of Classic Rock songs. And that's also the case for “Vol. 2.” And the tone of its trailer is set in the first 30 seconds with the familiar bass notes of Fleetwood Mac's “The Chain.” In fact, the entire trailer is essentially consumed by the song:
For an industry obsessed by enticing young demos to get out of the house and go to theaters, why lean on music that's four or even five decades old? As those of us who study Classic Rock research know too well, the multi-generational appeal of the music is a key driver. Iconic Classic Rock songs are highly familiar and connote positive feelings among many Gen Z consumers, along with their older Millennial sibs. And of course, this music is the soundtracks of many Xer and Boomer lives.
But the other impetus for choosing Classic Rock songs instead of hot new hits comes down to pure safety. As Thilk concludes, “By going classic, the marketers don't run as much of a risk of the trailer seeming dated six moths down the road in the same way it would if more modern music was used, even if the movie is very much in-the-moment.” Some of the best marketers on the planet have concluded the Classic Rock “is just as relevant and vital as ever.”
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the best way to ensure movie trailers don't get repetitive and stale is to feature music that is decades old – Classic Rock.