On Monday night, the Internet was a buzz with the release of the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. People went crazy discussing what shown in the 2 minute and 30 second preview. The video on YouTube already has over 21 million views.
After watching the trailer, people were wondering many things: where is Luke, what’s up with Han and Leia, and what planet is being blown up?
I too started wondering after watching the trailer, but my question had nothing to do with The Force or lightsabers. Here’s what I was wondering…
What Was The First Movie Trailer Ever?
Movie trailers are big business these days, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, most of the early trailers were not even seen by moviegoers.
Trailers got their name because they were initially played after the movie. They “trailed” the feature film. However, this practice was not effective because most audiences left right after the movie and ignored the trailer all together. To fix this, the trailers were moved to be shown before the movie, where they remain to this day.
The first trailer shown in a theater in the United Stated took place in November 1913. The Marcus Loew theater chain’s advertising manager, Nils Granlund, created a short promo for the musical The Pleasure Seekers which was opening at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. When the promo was shown, the Daily Star in Lincoln, Nebraska described the event as “an entirely new and unique stunt”, and that “moving pictures of the rehearsals and other incidents connected with the production will be sent out in advance of the show, to be presented to the Loew’s picture houses and will take the place of much of the bill board advertising”.
With this new and unique stunt, trailers were born.
Granlund is also credited with creating the first trailer to promote an upcoming motion picture when he used a slide technique to promote an upcoming film featuring Charlie Chaplin at Loew’s Seventh Avenue Theatre in Harlem in 1914.
Photo credit: Wikipedia