Yesterday and Today: Comparing Reboot Trailers to the Originals

Every year brings a slate of remakes, reboots, and sequels to long-dormant film franchises.  2015 includes updates to series like Star Wars, Fantastic Four, and many more.  Comparing the trailers for the revamps to those for the originals can highlight how different these new installments are aspiring to be—and it can also highlight differences in how trailers have been produced over the years.  How do these trailers compare?

Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)


Mad Max: Fury Road takes more than a few cues from the second film in the original series, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.  Both films’ previews do not want for explosions, low-angle shots speeding over roads or over-the-top outfits.  Gone is the voice-over promising “the maximum force of the future”; now is the time for ominous dialogue and giant blocks of text.

Jurassic World (June 12)


These trailers first evoke a sense of wonder and hope before turning tail and highlighting the horror and chaos that inevitably result from messing with nature.  Jurassic World cribs several iconic shots directly from the original film, showing reverence to 1993 classic while staking out territory all its own.  The end of the trailer even features a soft piano rendition of John Williams’ classic score.

Terminator: Genisys (July 1)


Both trailers start with drones flying over post-apocalyptic landscapes to establish the horrors that await humanity, then explain the time travel that will be used in hopes of a different outcome.  The Terminator: Genisys trailer plays on many famous moments from the first two films, bringing in the liquid-metal Terminator and more action-oriented Sarah Connor from T2: Judgment Day and mixing things up by having multiple Terminators played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.  You thought Arnold punching through a car’s windshield was cool?  How about him diving head-first into a helicopter?

Poltergeist (July 24)


A young family moves into a typical suburban house, only to have a terrifying brush with the supernatural.  Worried faces, flickering lights, and windy portal explorations ensue!  The 2015 version establishes the creepy tone far earlier than the 1982 original and ups the ante with creepy eyes, evil toys, and an HDTV, stopping just short of a callback to “They’re here!”

Fantastic Four (August 7)



After an unreleased ultra-low-budget 1994 outing and a pair of mildly successful films in the 2000s, the Fantastic Four franchise is being launched yet again.  The tone gets less playful each time, placing much more emphasis on the accident that grants the characters their powers than the powers themselves.  The goofy, cheesy nature of the original has been cut in favor of a portentous voice-over and depressing music.  The 2005 version makes a “4 ever” pun, and the 2015 film kicks it up a notch by referring to it as “Fant4stic.”  In each of the trailers, there’s only one shot where the main character is actually speaking—should that be taken as a bad omen?

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (August 14)


The 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. followed American and Russian agents in their globetrotting James Bond-style spy adventures.  Episodes from the show were recut into movies, including To Trap a Spy; the 2015 update is the first all-new U.N.C.L.E. film.  The reboot’s trailer is sleeker and more modern but retains the same sense of swinging ’60s fun.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 18)



The teaser trailers for the first films in each of the three Star Wars trilogies clearly illustrate the differences in movie marketing across decades.  The 1977 original was teased by a voice-over promising “an adventure unlike anything on your planet.”  1999’s The Phantom Menace had text informing us that “Every saga has a beginning.”  2015’s The Force Awakens is big on mystery, doling out quick flashes of new characters set to brief spurts of dialogue and John Williams music.  In an echo of the original trailer, the new teaser shows off Imperial TIE Fighters firing on the Millennium Falcon; much like The Phantom Menace, here we get our first glimpse at a new villain wielding a lightsaber with one more blade than we’ve seen before.

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