Coming Soon…A Brief, Passionate Word About Movie Previews

I love movie previews. I love the green screen with the words: The Following Preview Has Been Approved for All Audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America. I love the very rare red screen that denotes that the preview itself has been rated “R.” What does that mean? Do these previews have bare butts or four-letter words in them? Does some preview artiste cut a preview so good, they tell the studio, “Look, I’ve got a red screener here, but I promise you, I earned it.”

I love the special male voice that seems to announce each and every preview. What will happen when this one man dies? Who will do the previews? Have you ever, ever heard a woman’s voice on a preview? Can you even imagine a female voice saying, “In a land without law…in a time without heroes…to save his family…one man…will make…the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE.”

I love the format of the preview. I love how the preview itself has a first, second and third act, just like a movie that is two hours long instead of two minutes. I love how they give away everything in the preview, poaching all the best lines and funniest parts so when you actually see the movie later all the best parts give you a weird deja vu.

Back in the days of VHS, I used to love the previews you’d get on a rental video. Sometimes there could be a total of ten previews. First there would be the “Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You,” set of previews, and then “Coming Soon to Videocassette.” Now previews have given way to special features. Special features are the opposite of previews. Instead of showing you all the best parts of a movie you’ve never seen, they show you all the parts of the movie you just saw that weren’t good enough to be in the actual movie.

Sometimes I pick out a story arc in my own life and announce it to myself like a preview. Or I make little montages of myself falling down in my head and set them to music. When viewed through the preview format, every moment in life seems significant, or at least amusing.

A preview is art unto itself. It is the art of the idea of art. There is this amazing short short story I read once, about the artistic process of someone who crafts a truly great preview out of a truly shitty movie. It made me respect previews and the people who make them all the more.

All I want is to someday go to a movie theater and for the previews to never end. Two hours of previews. Heaven.

Until then, I have found something almost as good. In case you didn’t already know, they have all the previews.

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