Crafting a good movie trailer — with a glimpse of the plot, the right amount of suspense, and the correct use of the inception horn — is an art form in and of itself. There’s a lot riding on those three short minutes too; a new study from the research firm YouGov confirms that a movie’s trailer is the biggest influence on whether or not someone will buy a ticket. In fact, it matters more than a good review of the film, a personal recommendation, and whether someone has seen other movies in the same series.
But trailer editors have to strike a delicate balance — 19% of moviegoers polled said trailers that showed too much plot made them less likely to see a film, while 24% said it made them want to see a film more.
There is more to a spoiler than just the plot, though — the surprises of action sequences, characters, or even premise of the movie itself can be spoilers.
Here are some of summer’s hottest trailers, and their spoilers of varying magnitudes, ranked from the least revealing to the most. (There are spoilers only to the extent that the trailers themselves have spoilers.)
8. Before Midnight
Released May 24.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) — the beloved Franco-American couple who meet on a train bound for Vienna in Before Sunrise (1995) and are reunited by chance in Paris nine years later (the premise for 2004’s Before Sunset) have settled down and gotten married! And they have a child!
7. The Wolverine
Released July 26.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: Two figures from the comic books — Viper and the Silver Samurai — will both figure into the film’s plot.
6. Man of Steel
Released June 14.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: Like Wolverine trailer, the trailer for Man of Steel will only spoil the fun for fans of the comic books (and/or Superman II) who will recognize General Zod (Michael Shannon) as the film’s principal villain.
5. World War Z
Released June 21.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: The entire trailer for World War Z is one big spoiler proving that the film will have little to nothing in common with the beloved book one which it is based. Sure, the principal character (played by Brad Pitt) is also a UN employee, but unlike in the book, where that character travels the world interviewing survivors of the zombie apocalypse, in the film, he races around attempting to stem a zombie apocalypse already in progress.
4. Fast & Furious 6
Released May 24.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: WHERE TO BEGIN?! Dom (Vin Diesel) and Luke (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) are working together! Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) — shot dead at the end of the fourth fim — is definitely alive! They have a tank!
3. The Hangover Part III
Released May 24.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) father, Sid (Jeffery Tambor), dies.
2. This Is The End
Released June 12.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: Jason Segel dies, David Krumholtz dies, Michael Cera dies, Rihanna dies.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness
Released May 17.
TRAILER SPOILER ALERT: In the most spoil-sporty of spoil-sporty trailers, the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer reveals not only a bigger rival starship to the Enterprise — it also shows the USS Enterprise crashing toward the Earth. While the trailer does not reveal the identity of the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch (unlike killjoy IMDB) it does show Cumberbatch’s villain — gasp! — carrying out a targeted attack against Star Fleet HQ.