A trailer is a wheeled vehicle that is pulled by another vehicle and used for transporting large or heavy cargo. A trailer can also refer to a film preview or advertisement, which theaters show before the main feature movie.

The most common use of the word trailer is in relation to a movie. The trailer is a short promotional film showing highlights of the movie, usually accompanied by music and special effects to create a dramatic or suspenseful effect. The trailer is designed to attract viewers and get them to buy tickets. It is often mixed in Dolby Digital or other multichannel sound formats, to increase the impact and be more effective.

Trailers are generally played prior to the main feature film in a movie theater or cinema, as well as on television before a feature film airs. The term may also be applied to any form of advertising or promotion, such as a commercial for a new product.

In recent years, the trailer has become an important tool for film and video producers. It has also been adopted for other types of media, such as books, theatrical events and concerts. The term can also refer to a trailer that is attached to a truck for hauling freight, or the device used by parents to tow small children behind them while riding bikes.

For movies, the trailer is usually three to five minutes long and features a visual montage of powerful and emotionally moving scenes from the movie and often ends with a dramatic or suspenseful cliffhanger that will keep viewers interested in going to see the film. Most modern trailers follow a three act structure similar to the film itself, with a beginning that lays out the premise of the story and builds to a middle section that is more intense or compelling and a final act that delivers the climax of the movie. The trailer is often accompanied by a piece of specially composed music, such as an uplifting and inspirational song or a dramatic, sweeping orchestral score.

Some of the most famous trailers have been for thrillers and horror films, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which included a brief scene of Janet Leigh in the shower at the Bates Motel, followed by her bloodcurdling scream. The success of this trailer, and the film itself, helped change the way that Hollywood markets its movies. It became more common for auteur directors to cut their own trailers, rather than the big studios, and it is now also common to have multiple trailers for a single movie. This helps to ensure that audiences are not inundated with the same type of movie over and over. This is particularly effective when the film does not appeal to all audiences.