Illustration by Michael Witte
Owen Gleiberman
February 20, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Do movie trailers give away too much?

I’ve noticed more and more that trailers give away far too much. In some cases, they’re abbreviated versions of the movie, offering no reason to see the full version. Why don’t the people who make these previews leave some of the best jokes, thrills, and plot changes for those who see the actual film? — Jake Lewis

I have what I believe is a surprise explanation for this much-discussed phenomenon. Trailers, on average, are no lengthier or more information-packed than they used to be. It’s my experience that when you see the preview for a suspense film like, say, ”Runaway Jury” or ”The Bourne Identity,” the key twists are kept carefully under wraps. If a great many trailers do seem to give away the entire film, that may have more to do with how movies themselves have changed — which is to say, too many of them are concept-driven, connect-the-dots experiences to begin with. Once you’ve revealed a handful of the dots, audiences can deduce almost entirely how they fit together.

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