And the award for best trailer goes to…
A case study of 10 trailers for Best Picture nominees Trailers

And the award for best trailer goes to…

A case study of 10 trailers for Best Picture nominees

A case study of 10 trailers for Best Picture nominees

A movie trailer has many functions – to engage, to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Understanding how to succeed in developing a preview that piques the interest of the audience is an important consideration for studios big and small. In this study, we examined the trailers for 10 Oscar nominated film to better understand what makes a successful trailer.

Film and television award season is in full swing, culminating in the Oscars on Sunday! Using Lumiere to help creatives understand how their content impacts their audience is a core part of what we do, so you can bet we’ll be watching closely to see who gets the statue in each category. And yet there is one particular category of interest for us that falls outside of the parameters of this award show: movie trailers.

To explore the impact of trailers on moviegoers, we executed a study in Lumiere with each of the best picture nominees. Our goal was to assess the extent to which these short previews of acclaimed films functioned as an advertisement AND ‘entertainment’ in and of itself. A sample of 517 film-enjoyers (our version of ‘The Academy’) was recruited to watch the trailers, provide granular commentary, and answer a series of questions. The feedback that we received in the study allowed us to evaluate attention-capture, memorability, engagement, viewing-intent, and overall appeal. The specific metrics that we focus on include:

  • Overall Rating:Average of multiple trailer ‘moment’ rating scores on 10-point scale

  • Number of Comments: Aggregate # of times viewers logged spontaneous remarks

  • Question Responses: % of participants responding affirmatively to various questions

  • Composite Score: An aggregate figure, factoring in several individual metrics

  • Ranking: For various metrics, rank order out of the 10 trailers is provided.

The list of best picture nominees can be found here. And now, without further ado, the award for best trailer in this Latitude research study goes to… well it depends on how you define ‘Best.’ After reviewing the results, we determined there were a number of ways to assess the success or failure of a given trailer, and it makes sense to call those out.

Best at creating that “I just need to see it” feeling

All Quiet on the Western Front

A trailer has many purposes, but among the most important is getting bodies in the theater (or in this case, onto Netflix). For a foreign-language film clocking in at well over two hours with no Hollywood star power it’s especially important that the trailer persuades the viewer that the movie is worth the viewing time and effort. The results of our study suggest that the All Quiet on the Western Front trailer does just that. Of the participants, 86% indicated that seeing the trailer increased their interest in seeing the movie, a higher percentage than any other trailer. Part of the reason behind that might be that this trailer was also most often described (74%) as presenting the correct level of information, i.e. not too vague, not too spoiler-y. It also ranked second compared to the other nine nominees in composite score (91.5). More specific feedback from our ‘Academy’ suggests that the action, intensity, and storyline of this trailer really came across and succeeded in creating that “I just need to see it” feeling.

Best performance by an underdog

Triangle of Sadness

Of the trailers tested, none spurred more spontaneous comments in the Lumiere platform than Triangle of Sadness (193), and a high volume of comments is a good proxy for engagement. In this case, that engagement was overwhelmingly positive (7.8, 3rd highest overall rating score). This trailer also scored well on questions regarding interest in seeing (2nd), attention-grabbing (3rd), and overall entertainment (2nd). But why are these 2nd and 3rd place scores noteworthy? Because Triangle of Sadness was a limited theatrical release that did not benefit from a large advertising campaign. Most people (myself included) had never heard of it before the Academy Award nominations. Now that the Oscars have cast a spotlight on it, people start doing what they do: googling it. And when they do, they’ll arrive at a trailer that engages, informs, and entertains as well as any of the other blockbuster trailers out there on the internet. Critical acclaim has a long history of giving smaller films a second wind, and a good trailer can provide that extra nudge to get them onboard to buy a ticket or pull it up on Hulu.

Best trailer overall


Looking at the results of our study overall, there’s no doubt that Elvis is the king. This trailer scored highest on overall rating (8.1), composite score (92), and was associated with the highest percentage finding it to be entertaining (65%) and attention-grabbing (69%). In virtually all facets of trailer success examined in the study, Elvis was at or near the top. But I think the viewers in our study have explained what is great about this trailer better than I can. Here’s a sample of their comments:

  • “It’s enticing with Elvis’s dance moves that were famous for making the crowd go wild.”

  • “I like the creative way they used music to highlight this scene in the trailer.”

  • “It shows how he captivated the youth of the time and modernized people’s thinking.”

  • “That shot right there makes me want to watch the movie.”

  • “I really like the narration. It adds a lot.”

  • “The shots of Tom Hanks make me want to see the part he plays.”

  • “The title of the movie is glitzy, glamorous, bright, and fits the theme.”

In other words, the trailer captures the spirit of its subject matter. As a marketing tool, the Elvis trailer was successful in encouraging moviegoers to catch this one. But the trailer is more than just an ad – it’s a form of artistic expression and entertainment all on its own. Perhaps one day we’ll see Best Trailer among the list of categories at the Academy Awards.

More Case Studies

Want to know even more about what audiences found compelling in these trailers? Or what they might find particularly engaging in your content? Reach out to us!

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