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Extended Attractions: Recut Trailers, Film Promotion and Audience Desire

posted on 2023-05-22, 16:51 authored by Kathleen WilliamsKathleen Williams

The length of a promotional cycle for a film generally begins with the emergence of a poster or a film trailer that attempts to both "announce wares" and "win patrons" (Staiger 1990, 3). Traditionally, film trailers and posters have been used to draw audiences to the cinematic space to consume a feature film. But as film promotion has increasingly shifted from the spaces of the cinema and television, and from being tied to the event of film going, objects of film promotion can be consumed and enjoyed for their own sake at any point in a film's promotional life. The presence of trailers on DVDs and on the Internet mean that Consumers can watch a trailer well after a film has been released and for purposes other than choosing which upcoming feature to watch.

Recut trailers, which are typically uploaded to the video-sharing site YouTube, involve the recutting or splicing together of footage from one or more sources to create a trailer for a film that does not and will not exist. In some instances, footage is shot specifically for the trailer. Recut trailers alter the typical path of film promotion, which seeks to announce a film, build an audience, and draw viewers to the space of the cinema. Famous examples of recut trailers include The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick) recut as a family comedy or footage from Back to the Future (1985, Robert Zemeckis) recut to mimic the narrative of Brokeback Mountain (2006, Ang Lee). Although they take the form of an advertisement, recuts seek to advertise something that cannot be obtained, since a hybrid film such a Brokeback to the Future (Chocolate Cake City 2006) will not eventuate. Recut trailers reflect and embody audience desire to see an existing feature be extended into a sequel, create a cycle of films, or generate multiplicities through a series of links between disparate films.

This chapter outlines the numerous ways that recut trailers play with the temporality of a feature film's promotion, as well as how they may shift our understanding of what may constitute filmic multiplicities. Recut trailers allow users and audiences to revisit, rework, and augment their memory of a feature film, identifying latent story lines, shifting the genre of a film, or allowing a character from a film to exist in a newly imagined film. They consequently disrupt the typical longevity of a film, leaving tangible objects of audience desire that can be revisited to keep a film almost timeless, allowing an older feature film to be reinvigorated through any of the aforementioned strategies.

I discuss the creation of multiplicities through three case studies in this chapter. First, through an analysis of recuts and originally shot trailers created in the wake of Snakes on a Plane's release (2006, David R. Ellis), I position the recut trailer as a form through which audiences can mock and subvert attempts by Hollywood studios to create film cycles and multiplicities. Second, I use Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan) to demonstrate how sound can be used to create multiplicities of a singular film, drawing connections where none were thought to exist. Finally, I discuss fake sequels created for the blockbuster historical action film Titanic (1997, James Cameron) to establish how recurs can act as material traces of audience desire to extend a singular film into a series, in particular by combining intertextual references to locate the narrative of Titanic as one part of the larger narrative of the characters Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet).


Publication title

Cycles, Sequels, Spinoffs, Remakes and Reboots: Multiplicities in Film and Television


AA Klien and RB Palmer






School of Social Sciences


University of Texas Press

Place of publication

United States of America



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Copyright 2016 University of Texas Press

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  • Restricted

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