In February 2012, a small team of editors, writers and directors came together with an idea: what would happen if they hopped on the booming trend within movie trailer culture and applied that format to thoughtful analysis on different contemporary films?
With their 200th video in the bag and featuring the voice talents of Ryan Reynolds, Honest Trailers has proven there’s an audience for the type of Weird Al Yankovic commentary they set out to do. Over the past five years, Honest Trailers, headed up by Andy Signore, has worked with countless actors and writers to bring their brand of humor to their show.
But something has changed and Signore said it’s become impossible to ignore: the culture surrounding trailers, teaser trailers, teasers for those teaser trailers and more. With studios like Warner Bros., Sony, Marvel and Fox all getting in on the trailer hype action, the question is how necessary is it?
“It's getting slightly ridiculous,” Signore told Polygon from his Los Angeles office. “It feels like they have to market their own marketing. Having a trailer for trailers, for me, is a little redundant. I think there's a lot of films whose trailers show you too much, the ones when they show you the whole movie. You watch those and think, ‘I don't really need to see the movie now.’ Batman v Superman [Dawn of Justice] actually did a really good trailer and then they just kept releasing more.
“When you over-show everything, that's when fans react.”
Signore said he understands that studios have to market their movies, but acknowledges it’s become a little obsessive. By the time fans go to the theater, the movie can’t possibly live up to the hype those trailers have built. The Honest Trailers team wanted to find a way to jump on the trend they were seeing pop up in the industry they cover and that led to producing their own teasers for the show.
“It feels a little unnecessary, but we're jumping on that bandwagon ourselves,” Signore said. “So one of our teases is a trailer for the next Honest Trailers. We're getting in on that trend in a funny way.”
The goal for Signore has always been to become a trailer version of Weird Al Yankovic’s musical parody and earn the same respect from filmmakers that Yankovic got from musicians whose songs he spoofed. Since launching the channel and building an audience over the past five years, Signore said he’s had multiple directors, including the Russo brothers (Captain America: Civil War), David Leitch (John Wick) and Chad Stahelski (John Wick, John Wick 2) approach him to talk about their movies, hoping they would end up as an Honest Trailers episode.
“It made me realize that we are being watched and being respected,” Signore said. “We love talking about movies, and that’s what ScreenJunkies has become. We talk with our fans and the community and certain directors have the same love we do.”
Signore said they were invited to the John Wick premiere and before they went in, Stahelski found a few minutes to talk to them about the production and issues they ran into. Stahelski explained that toward the third act they had run into financial issues and wanted to point that out before the Honest Trailers team went in. Signore said he realized then that directors saw them as people who understood what went into making a movie and respected the series because of that.
“As you make a movie, there are things that happen,” Signore said. “The videos are all done in good fun.”
While Signore and his team are proud of the videos they put up, he did recall one in particular that upon revisiting, thought could have been much, much better. While he didn’t regret it, Signore pointed out that there are definitely issues with it, but the biggest problem was that it just wasn’t funny enough.
“We've gone back and re-watched a lot of them, but we did Rise of the Planet of the Apes and deemed that one our unfunniest,” Signore said. “That's probably the one that we regret wasn't our funniest effort. Looking back, that's the one where we really phoned it in.”
Signore added that there have been some cruel and mean-spirited jokes in their earlier videos that, in hindsight, the team probably didn’t need. The creator said like anything else in life, Honest Trailers was a learning experience for them, but he’s proud of the final product.
Looking forward, Signore said they want to start making more videos about different aspects of the film industry. ScreenJunkies already has a number of series on its YouTube channel, but with an Emmy nomination under its belt and interest from some of the biggest directors in the business, Signore wants to do more.
“My favorite videos are the ones where we push ourselves,” Signore said. “Deadpool is obvious, but our musical ones like Les Miserables remain some of my favorites because they were really challenging. The retro ones that we did with Superman 4, where we added the VHS filter to make it look like it was from that era. I like the ones that really push us past our comfort zone.
“I want to do more of that.”
Honest Trailers’ newest episode, dedicated to Fox’s Logan and guest starring Ryan Reynolds, can be seen above.