Movie Previews

What Makes a Successful Movie Preview?

Most of us enjoy going to the movies. Perhaps our choice of film is determined by a review that we have read in a paper or magazine. But how do these get reviewed prior to a film’s release?

With most films not appearing on DVD until well after their release, the method usually chosen by film distributors is to screen a movie preview. Who attends this may well be determined by the type of film that it is.

Stars often attend a movie review to further promote the film

Stars often attend a movie review to further promote the film

A film that has attracted a lot of hype and is expected to be a blockbuster is likely to have its preview at a top London cinema, most likely attended by the stars of the film to further promote the movie. Much of the rest of the audience will be made up of movie critics and journalists. Not only are they likely to see the preview of the film, but they are likely to be wined and dined, in the expectation of a positive review of the film.

Whilst this is perhaps the best known type of movie preview, smaller low budget films sometimes take a different approach. Whilst actors from the film, or sometimes the director, will appear at a preview screening, with the exception of a few journalists, the general public are likely to be invited. Especially with the advent of social media, many distributors are well aware of the value of word of mouth and this gradual spread of information online, enthused by what they saw at the preview, can really help to build a following for a film, especially if it is in a genre known for its cult following, such as horror films.

A preview of a major film is likely to be shown relatively close to its opening date as distributors know that the audience will already have awareness of it, if it is a well known film such as one of the James Bond franchise, for example. Smaller budget films, however, are likely to have their preview some time beforehand in order to build up expectation and a growing audience before it finally appears in the cinemas.

Some distributors prefer the ‘suspense’ approach, and avoid having a preview altogether, relying on sneak previews gradually released in trailers or via internet campaigns. One of the most successful of these was the Blair Witch film campaign which operated on a very low budget, yet had huge box office success, largely through its internet campaign.

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