At approximately 20% of responses, that’s a significant sample and contained the following titles: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Gravity, Godzilla, Frozen, Guardians of the Galaxy and The LEGO Movie. While the titles would naturally change if we ran the survey again, we believe the percentage of films in 3D would not shift dramatically (and could potentially rise), given the place of 3D in almost all major blockbusters and franchise properties (which dominated our results). In the last few weeks alone, trailers for new films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, Mad Max: Fury Road and Ant-Man have been released – all those films will include a 3D release.
We have to be cautious when making this claim about 3D and trailers, however: as our research shows, around 72% of trailer viewing takes place via a medium or platform that is not available in 3D. With only 28% of trailer viewing taking place in a cinema, that reduces the chances that our respondents were actually seeing a 3D trailer for a 3D film.
The qualitative responses reduce those numbers even further: only 2 respondents out of 525 make a specific reference to 3D, when discussing the trailer for a 3D film.
So, with those provisos, what can our results actually tell us something about 3D and trailers? We would suggest that analysis of the qualitative responses received for the films listed actually reveal that when a 3D trailer IS viewed, that trailer might raise expectations for the 3D version of the feature; and that qualitative responses raise issues that may relate to 3D content. To demonstrate this, let’s take 3 examples of specific comments relating to specific trailers (the numbers in brackets refer to the respondent).:
TRAILER: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:
- ‘All different aspects of film shown - a great taster’ (#395)
- ‘Pretty visuals, but I’m not emotionally invested in the franchise’ (#370)
- ‘Interest in the film franchise; vast CG visuals and dramatic editing…it dramatically built up the hype for the film without revealing the whole plot’ (#228)
- ‘terrible, too long, too detailed and gave away too much’ (#209)
- ‘The HD looked fake.’ (#156)
- ‘I saw it at the Odeon IMAX in 3D. The SFX (pretty rubbish in the first Hobbit film in 2D) looked better on screen - so might book tickets for the 3D version, based on the trailer.’ (#153)
TRAILER: The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
- ‘it showed you most elements of the narrative and plot’ (#171)
- ‘effects look good’ (#217)
- ‘flashy trailer, made me worry about the movie (looks like too many bad guys again)’ (#241)
- ‘Iconic Character, Strong Visuals, Comic Book Origins…Seems an impressive spectacle.’ (#402)
- ‘different plot than usual Hollywood storylines, it's happening in space, it seemed a very "clean movie"’ (#518)
- ‘Had a lot of impact, didn't list too much plot, soundtrack’ (#348)
- ‘space suits / combination of flowing actor movement and rapid ruptured edits / something about the music… it did make me curious to see the film’ (#340)
- ‘spectacular effects, great sound design’ (#187)
- ‘conveyed panic, made me feel I was there’ (#82)
- ‘exciting, visual, stimulating… it was in 3d’ (#55)
The repeated responses and references to the visual quality of the trailers might reveal “hidden” references to 3D: ‘spectacular effects’, ‘vast CG visuals’, ‘made me feel I was there’ are all comments that – with further research – might point to 3D being more of a sales message or strong creative element of the trailer than is currently understood. Certainly the existing (slim) research on 3D trailers (by one of our research team, Keith M. Johnston) suggests that it creates a different experience than seeing the same trailer in 2D.
This all needs to be followed up in later research, but it does suggest that for 3D to be a strong creative element that can be effectively marketed, for it to offer an effective ‘free sample’ of the technology and its creative application, then the main barrier to 3D trailers is the need to expand out of the cinema to other media, in order to reach the 60-70% of the trailer viewing audience who currently watch online or via televisions.