The best movie trailers are the ones that grab your attention, whether it’s with a stunning shot, dramatic action, or a witty line of dialogue. They’re the ones that spark your curiosity rather than satisfying it. They show off the movie’s good points, but don’t give away any of the best scenes. Below are five examples from the past two decades that packed a punch and left the audience dying to see more.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Panning across the surface of the world has become a trademark of fantasy film trailers—it draws the audience into the alternate universe. That’s how this exciting trailer begins, and how it draws viewers’ attention: With a sweeping shot of a dark forest, both beautiful and menacing, perfectly setting the tone of the film. The clips are visually stunning and give the audience just enough background to develop an interest in the plot and the characters without revealing too much of the story. There’s plenty to pique the viewer’s curiosity, but the most magnificent scenes are saved for the film itself.
This film marked the dawn of a new age of superhero movies, and its trailer became a model for other films of the genre. Within those two short minutes, viewers see all the ingredients of a classic comic-book film: The hero, his secret powers, the love interest, and the villain. The scenes of Spider-Man swooping along the city skyline highlights the movie’s special effects, while the titular character’s narration draws audiences in, making them invested in the characters before even seeing the movie.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
It’s a bit early to say how the trailer will match up to the movie, but the preview itself is fantastic. The teaser offers only a brief glimpse of the new film, but Star Wars fans see everything they could want ranging from stormtroopers to spaceships. A great trailer for a sequel, it incorporates the most iconic pieces of the original films—the blast of the fanfare is enough to make any nerd jump out of their seat with excitement. The teaser is full of action and adventure scenes in a style faithful to the original trilogy—now all that’s left is for the film to deliver.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
While the movie itself isn’t for everyone, there’s no denying that the trailer is a fantastic hook for this horror film. The preview perfectly reflects the ‘found-footage’ style of the film itself, and the terror of the filmmaker characters is palpable even in the brief clips. Glimpses of the ‘footage’ are shown just enough to illustrate the premise, but nothing is given away. This is a spine-tingling trailer, promising a movie that will be a nail biter.
Super 8 (2011)
The score is what makes this trailer, especially in the beginning. Even in those scenes of small-town life, the music sets an eerie tone, culminating in an incredible explosion. The scenes build action with paranormal phenomena, along with the brief glimpses into the characters in this town that catch the audience’s attention. It’s hard not to want to know what’s on that train, and yet, while some amazing clips are shown, nothing is given away. Getting inside the characters’ heads, discovering the source of the supernatural chaos—you have to see the movie for all the best bits.