A trailer is a short promotional film that previews a feature-length movie. It is typically shown before the movie is screened in a theater, but can also be shown on TV, online, or on mobile devices. Trailers are an important part of the film-making process, because they help sell the story to audiences. They also provide an opportunity to experiment with editing techniques and visual styles. A trailer can be as creative and artistic as the film itself, but it must always sell a movie that will attract viewers and make them want to see the final product.

A good trailer must be visually dazzling and emotionally captivating, but it must avoid spoiling major plot points. This is especially true for action films, where the trailer needs to show enough of the coolest special effects to convince viewers that they’ll be blown away by the finished product. It is also important to use a variety of music, from dramatic orchestral pieces for action films to lighthearted pop songs for romantic comedies. Music can create a mood and set the tone for the entire trailer, so it is important to choose music that matches the feel of the film.

In the early days of movie theaters, trailers were used to advertise the latest movies that would be playing in the next few weeks. The first official movie trailer was a one-minute spot produced in 1912 by Broadway producer Nils Granlund for the play Pleasure Seekers. The trailer was a combination of clips from the production overlaid with dramatic text and big-name stars.

Over time, trailers became more and more popular and began to be used as stand-alone advertisements for films. By the 1960s, auteur filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick were cutting their own trailers to promote their films. This trend continued into the 1970s, when blockbuster films were more successful at selling themselves through trailers.

The trailer is also often a place for movie studios to highlight the talents of the cast and crew. This is especially true of a star actor or director who may have had success in other genres, or has a following in a specific demographic. Trailers frequently include a cast run, which is a list of the main actors in a film, as well as any directors or producers who may be recognizable to audiences.

Trailers can also be used to hype up specific scenes in a film. For example, a teaser trailer for a science fiction film might focus on the visuals of an alien invasion, while a thriller might highlight a suspenseful scene with a twist ending. Using these tricks can be effective, but they must be used sparingly or risk giving an audience a false impression of the film.

Sometimes, even fake trailers can create a cult following. For example, the 2007 collaboration between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, Grindhouse, included five fake trailers between the two feature-length films. One of the trailers, called Clown, became so popular that aspiring director Jon Watts filmed a real movie with the same name, jumping-starting his career.