The New York Times has an interesting, interactive feature up this week that takes a digital scalpel to the trailers for five of the nine Oscar contenders for Best Picture. It has created scrollable timelines of the trailers for Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, Amour, Argo and Beasts of the Southern Wild and has segmented every shot contained within, identifying where in the final movie that shot actually takes place.
That sounds incredibly unnecessary and OCD, and to be fair it kind of is, but it does paint an intriguing picture about the psychology of trailer editing. For starters, it's interesting to see just how many shots from trailers are actually from the ends of films. A common complaint these days is that trailers show way too much of a movie, but in the case of all five of these dissected trailers, only Lincoln's is made up predominantly of footage from the end of the film.
Despite the elaborate breakdown of each trailer, the NYT doesn't attempt to reach any grand conclusion about the quality of or science behind these trailers. We'd love to see it compare these chronology graphs against, say, the Razzie nominees for Worst Picture, but I guess we'll have to hope some aspiring nerd out there does that hard work. Even without any sort of grand conclusion, though, it's a cool little feature to take a look at, so head over to the NYT to see each breakdown.