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What Makes a Good Movie Trailer?

Movie trailers are used as a marketing tool to sell a movie and give moviegoers an idea of the plot while presenting the main characters and protagonists. A good movie trailer needs to be enticing enough to attract the audience, but not detailed enough to give away the plot entirely. It also has to be honest and reflect the general tone of the film. But what exactly makes a movie trailer successful?

Never Oversell

You want your trailer to be as humble as possible. Oversell and you will be faced with a barrage of critics. If you are truthful from the get-go, you might attract some critics, but you won’t end up disappointing your audience by misleading them. If it’s an action movie with lots of dialogue, don’t try to cram all the action scenes in two and a half minutes. Don’t use overstated titles, no need to mention prizes from obscure festivals or glowing critics, and please, spare your viewers’ ears and ditch the obnoxiously loud music.

It would also be wise to work with a crew that does film production in Houston. They will be able to give you some tips to improve it, or things that you should avoid.

Avoid TMI

Your trailer should lay out the basic premise of the film but giving up too much information is a huge mistake. You should give your audience a general idea of what the plot is without divulging important plot points. At the same time, you should also make sure that the trailer tells a story itself and has a solid narrative through line. You’re really creating an abridged version of the movie, so make sure that the trailer has a core theme and that you build around it.

You should use a three-act structure for the trailer just as you would a movie. Start by presenting the main characters, follow with an exciting incident in act two, and hint at the resolution and the main characters’ struggle to get there without giving anything away.

Also, while you want to show some of the main characters, you don’t need to show them all. Instead of showing all the main characters, try to focus mainly on the two that will really get your audience riled up. If you maintain an element of surprise, you’ll get strong reactions during the movie.

Capture the Movie’s Mood

One of the most important things during movie trailers is conveying the mood of the film. Instead of focusing on plot points, you should focus on emotion first and foremost. Make your audience feel like they’re stepping into another world. Music will also play a major role in setting the tone as well. However, don’t try to go with generic overly dramatic music. Any music that genuinely reflects the movie’s mood will do.


If you want your movie trailer to stand out and catch your audience’s attention, follow these few tips. Also, make sure that you don’t go overboard and make sure that your audience will leave your movie without feeling cheated.

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