Web Trailers a Preview of Things to Come

Coming attractions on the Internet ¬– from sneak peaks to interactive gimmicks to spoofs – are becoming a mini art form. With all this, who needs to go to the movies anymore?

It’s a sign of the times when one of the most compelling reasons for going to the movies this summer – besides full-blast air conditioning – is a chance to see the preview for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I.” At Comic-Con, the San Diego celebration of all-things geek, fans reportedly lined up by the thousands over the weekend for an extended sneak peak.

But unless you’re a big-screen snob, you don’t have to go to theaters for a “Potter” fix: the trailer is all over the Web, where it debuted last month – and where it likely will continue to be dissected up until the film’s November debut.

The great “Potter” movies, of course, are phenomenon unto themselves. But the hubbub marks some of the latest evidence that coming attractions on the Internet – from carefully doled out sneak peaks to interactive gimmicks to spoofs – are becoming a mini art form.

With all this, who needs to go to the movies anymore?

Hollywood types increasingly are using (sometimes overusing) the Web to create buzz. Internet previews were a big part of building an audience for the brilliant, out-of-seemingly-nowhere 2008 hit “District 9.” More recently, “The Social Network,” an upcoming flick about the story of Facebook, has been touted, appropriately enough, in online teaser trailers.

Much of the appeals of the Internet is that the user has a semblence of control – a concept that plays a part in a new Web-based film preview site, i-Trailers, which, The New York Times notes, is part of a tidal wave of digital entertainment ventures flooding the market.

See more trailers here.

i-Trailers allows the viewer to click on the preview at any point at get a nuggets of information about the flick – kind of  “Pop-Up Video” with an interactive twist. So in a coming attraction for “Despicable Me,” we learn with a couple of clicks that “Gru delights in all things wicked” and “This is the first soundtrack Grammy winning artist Pharrell Williams has ever worked on.”

The concept of user control, of course, already extends to the growing do-it-yourself ethos of folks using relatively common computer tools to cut their own versions of movie previews, usually in the cause of comedy, usually for YouTube.

As much as a kick as we’ve gotten lately from the coming attractions for “The Expendables,” Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming reunion of A- and B-list 1980s action film stars, we’re enjoying far more a spoof of “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” which recasts the flick as a musical (the fake Stallone singing is nearly as funny as the real Sly crooning in “Rhinestone”).

The video appears to have been inspired by the coming of “The Expendables,” whose title was inspired by a line from the “Rambo” film. The modest YouTube hit is no “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I,” but is good for a laugh.

Check it out below, along with, just for the heck of it, a new “Seinfeld” movie trailer lampoon that portrays Kramer as a villain – though far from Voldemort proportions:

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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