50 Movie Trailers That Changed Entertainment Marketing
For those who get to the movie theater extra early, so as not to miss the coming attractions, we have a treat for you today that might be better than the biggest bucket of buttered popcorn.
We’re thrilled to publish the second of two lists that help celebrate the incredible legacy and artistry of entertainment marketing in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Key Art Awards (the origin program of Clio Entertainment).
The list of 50 iconic movie posters was published last spring. And now, we’re pleased to present a companion list of 50 iconic movie trailers—as compiled by five of the industry’s greatest practitioners of the form.
Of course, you can find many lists of best movie trailers online, but how many are authored by the pros themselves? By those who have spent long hours in the edit bay finessing the perfect sound effect, or sat with a filmmaker as they’ve watched a trailer for the first time? Not many. We’re thrilled to give these legends in the field a chance to share pieces that inspired their own remarkable careers, and prompted them to dive deep into the special artistry that is trailer making.
We are tremendously grateful for their selections and insights. Below, meet the list’s curators. Or you can jump straight to the list itself.
Meet the curators of the list and learn how they approached this project:
SVP, Creative Advertising
About Lauri: When I was a kid, my Saturday babysitter was often a movie theater. I absolutely loved movies. What I never imagined was having a career in marketing them. I was on an entirely different career path when, through a summer job in college, I got my foot in the door and never looked back. I started out as a finisher, worked at Aspect (Ratio), edited for a very brief time, started producing, and then became a creative director at BLT: A/V and Ignition. I joined Universal Marketing in 2018, bringing my passion for movies along with decades of creative advertising experience. Throughout my career, I have always strived to produce creative that is engaging, effective and hopefully memorable. And I’m humbled and amazed at the good fortune that has given me the opportunity to work with such talented and passionate people in this little cottage industry of ours. And yes, on Saturdays, I’ll probably be at the movies.
Thoughts on the list: I am a firm believer that trailers are an art form. They require creative skill and imagination. And like all art, they are also subjective. For a few of these pieces, there was definite consensus on how iconic or trendsetting they were, and still are. And it’s been fascinating to rediscover teasers and trailers from decades ago and seeing certain techniques are still used today! But this list is in no way definitive. There may be discussions (or arguments) about what may be art for art’s sake, and what is an effective marketing tool. I think creative truly shines when it can be both, and my hope is that this list inspires everyone as much as it inspires me.
Among the trailers Lauri has worked on: Inception, Sully, Bridesmaids
President / Partner
About Benedict: I started as a runner at Kaleidoscope Films and worked my way up. I quickly developed a passion for cutting trailers. I was blessed with great mentors who championed my career. My biggest break came when I was hired by Steven Spielberg and worked on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for a year in his apartment. My career totally changed course after that. I absolutely love editing. I had no idea I was any good at it, but apparently others did! It has given me a career and a life beyond my wildest dreams.
Thoughts on the list: It was so hard to narrow the list to 50, since so many amazing pieces were produced through the years. There are so many more I would add to the list! It was fascinating to dig around and see the evolution of trailers and how some simply stood out with the genius of their originality. My choices came down to how I remember those trailers impacting me, and how intrigued and impressed I was with how they were crafted. I hope my comments will give some insight as to why I chose the trailers I did.
Among the trailers Benedict has worked on: Purple Rain, Jurassic Park, Beverly Hills Cop
Co-President / Creative Director
About Lisa: I began my career, like so many in our industry, at Aspect—and 26 years later, I’m still here! I started on the business/finance side and knew immediately that I had to get to the creative side and worked hard (as everyone does) to get there. Thankfully, there’s been no shortage of extremely talented people at Aspect to learn from over the years. I’m grateful for all who were so generous with their time and talent to help me learn what makes great marketing. That same generosity of spirit is part of what makes our community so awesome to be a part of.
Thoughts on the list: The process of compiling this list reminded me why I still love this industry after all these years. It’s still exciting to see, and be inspired by, the amazing talent in our industry. Once I got over being intimidated to speak among all this amazing talent, it was fun to not only revisit these great trailers but also to be reminded of where we’ve been as an industry. This list can never encompass all the great work out there—but it really helps to shine a light on how we’ve evolved over time. We just keep getting smarter and more skilled as an industry, and it’s clear that we build upon each other’s talents as the thread of inspiration continues to be carried forward. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Among the trailers Lisa has worked on: Citizen Kane [digital HD version], Disney Signature Collection, Indiana Jones Collection
Founder / President
About Seth: I have been fortunate to participate at almost every level of our business. Editor, writer, producer, creative director, studio executive and agency owner. None of which would’ve been possible without interest and nurturing by some of the industry’s finest artists. To name a few: Tony Seiniger, Bob Farina/Chris Arnold and the original Cimarron team, Smitty—the man who helped me sharpen my trailer skills—and Anthony Goldshmidt, who taught me what art as advertising was all about.
Thoughts on the list: I’ve always been a movie junkie. For me, it’s pure emotion. Every movie a great trip, and trailers are the ultimate high. It’s one of the reasons editing has always my passion and my focus. It’s also been my greatest challenge, in whatever area of the marketing business I worked, to compartmentalize my emotional response to this art and put it into perspective with the commerce side of what we do. In the end, I believe my choices represent the best in the marriage of art and commerce. Fierce creative force joined with sharp advertising instinct. And the beauty of art is that while I hope readers agree, I know they can pick a different 50 that mean the same to them.
Among the trailers Seth has worked on: Terminator 2, Home Alone, Independence Day
Principal / Executive Creative Director
Open Road Entertainment
About Michelle: My first gig was as a college intern in the promo department of USA Network learning the craft of copywriting. In the years since, I have worked in key positions on both sides of the table—agency and client. Some fun titles I have had include: head of audio visual for The Cimarron Group; SVP, creative advertising at Warner Brothers Pictures; and now principal/executive creative director at Open Road Entertainment. The winner of numerous ad awards including Clios, working along various talented teams, I have contributed greatly to AV campaigns for films such as The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, Judas and the Black Messiah and many others.
Thoughts on the list: In some nerdy twist of fate, I think I was meant to create trailers with my editorial partners in crime. The history of editing is very much linked to the “seamstresses of film”—aka, female cutters who worked within the old-school studio system. My mom was, in fact, a seamstress. My dad had been a big-band musician and drilled the American songbook into my brain from a young age. It’s an honor to do what you love and to work with music and movies. Bravo to everyone who contributed to the trailers on this list and those—so many more—that may not be on here. I hope whoever watches these feels inspired to do what they love, no matter where their career takes them.
Among the trailers Michelle has worked on: American Beauty, The Wolf of Wall Street, Judas and the Black Messiah
50 Movie Trailers That Changed Entertainment Marketing
Below is the list, in alphabetical order. Click on any title to see the trailer, or scroll down to see them all.
• American Beauty
• American Sniper
• Baby Driver
• Battle: Los Angeles
• A Clockwork Orange
• Dennis the Menace
• Do the Right Thing
• Dr. Strangelove
• Dumb and Dumber
• For the Boys
• Garden State
• The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
• Gone in Sixty Seconds
• The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
• Independence Day
• Lilo & Stitch
• Little Children
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• Man of Steel
• The Matrix
• Pineapple Express
• Pulp Fiction
• Puss in Boots
• Raging Bull
• The Shining
• Shut Up and Dribble
• The Social Network
• Star Wars: The Force Awakens
• Suicide Squad
• The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
• Top Gun
• Where the Wild Things Are
• The Wolf of Wall Street
• 8 Mile
• 10 Cloverfield Lane
20th Century Fox, 1979
R. Greenberg Associates