Aquaman and the lost Kingdom | Warner Bros.

THE FIRST teaser trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has just been released, revealing precious few details about how the story will unfold, but serving up a generous helping of Jason Momoa in action to get the adrenaline pumping. The whole thing has us wondering if there’s a point of having trailers for trailers, and even Aquaman’s director admits they’re pretty silly.

If you haven’t seen Aquaman’s teaser yet, allow us to talk you through it in about as much time as the teaser itself lasts.

“In 4 days”, the teaser begins, followed by our first look at Momoa’s beefed up but seemingly pensive Aquaman. “See”, it continues, as a quick cut shot of Aquaman in action comes into focus, moving so fast you don’t have time to process your emotions before “the” enters the equation, now we’re getting somewhere. “Trailer” is final boldfaced declaration to appear on screen, and that’s where our excitement plummets. All this suspenseful diction just to announce a trailer?

We’re not the only ones feeling like we’ve been given a slightly short shrift. Aquaman’s director, the acclaimed Australian filmmaker James Wan, shared the teaser on Instagram, where he evidently related to a particular comment which reads (pardon the language): “lol is this a fucking trailer for a trailer?” Rather than defend the marketing of his own film, Wan was game for some light ribbing, and replied “I know, it’s hilarious.”

Aquaman’s teaser trailer is a brief but adrenaline fuelled blast of hype-inducing material. It may be high on action and low on story elements, but it’s still racked up 1.8 million views on YouTube. Although, at just over 30 seconds in run time, the teaser at least had the decency to not waste too much of its viewers’ time.

People seem to be waking up to the ridiculousness of trailers for trailers, and even filmmakers are recognising teasers are ultimately pointless—just show us the damn trailer, we don’t need a release date for a preview—so why do teasers still exist? They must have some marketing benefits, right? Let us explain.

Why do teaser trailers exist?

Obviously, despite featuring disappointing levels of plot information, there’s still demand for teaser trailers. You’ll be hard pressed to find any hardcore Aquaman fan that isn’t desperate for even a fleeting glimpse at the next addition to the DC cinematic universe. As such, marketers can release any content they want and be guaranteed that people will still watch it, drumming up hype with little to no effort.

Another factor is that, while full-length trailers are a far more appealing demonstration of what to expect from a film, no matter where you cut them, they just don’t fit into the standard 30 second time slot of television ad breaks. The Aquaman teaser premiered during an NFL game and is just quick enough squeeze into a momentary break in play, providing viewers with a quick hit of hype-building, without interrupting their beloved sport.

In Aquaman’s case, a teaser trailer was the ideal way to reassure us that it was actually still being made. The film is scheduled to release in just over three months, but promotional material for the blockbuster has been few and far between this year, leading to speculation that the sequel had been canned.

In short, teaser trailers serve a variety of marketing purposes. They give fans what they want to see, are tv friendly, and in some cases remind us that a film even exists in the first place.

When did teaser trailers start?

You might remember a time when full length trailers were all there was, you might even fondly recall the days when a teaser trailer would have regularly been dismissed as pointless. That’s because while teasers may be an industry standard nowadays, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the marketing practice is relatively new and likely began only a decade ago.

We may have Ridley Scott’s 2012 blockbuster Prometheus to blame for the rise of teaser trailers. The sci-fi film’s usage of a teaser trailer to announce an actual trailer has been noted as one of the first instances of the practice. Thanks a lot Ridley, but at least you gave us Blade Runner.

Why do teaser trailers suck?

To be frank, teaser trailers are an insult to audiences’ attention spans. The implication behind the rise of 30 seconds or less teasers is that marketing teams think our attention spans are so short, our interest needs to be piqued with brief hits of action rather than suspenseful build-ups. Maybe they’re right, after all, teasers do garner millions of views, but we’re not too happy about the inference.

On top of the attention grabbing methods of teaser trailers, full length trailers are now beginning with three or four shots of action sequences and big-name actors before getting into the actual trailer. As if when viewers aren’t reminded of what’s to come, they’ll lose focus or simply click on something else. Perhaps if instead of paragraphs, this article consisted only of subheadings with titles like ‘Teaser trailers suck!’, ‘Aquaman!’, or Ridley Scott is to blame!’, more people would reach its conclusion. Or perhaps because we didn’t do that, no one is reading this anyway.

Aquaman | Warner Bros.


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