It's been a so-so year for movies, but it's shaping up to be an excellent year for trailers.
Web sites like http://www.apple.com/trailers, http://www.comingsoon.net and others have increased the circulation and attention to trailers. A highly anticipated trailer will often top YouTube's charts in its first days of release.
Currently ubiquitous is the latest and fullest trailer for the new Batman installment, "The Dark Knight." Advertising for the film has been scrutinized following the death of Heath Ledger, who plays the Joker.
But the ad campaign by Warner Bros. — which heavily features Ledger — has largely drawn raves. Even the staunchest art-house filmgoer would have to remark that the new Batman motorcycle looks, well, totally rad.
The Golden Trailer Awards recently gave "The Dark Knight" the award for best action trailer.
A funny little tradition in its ninth year, the awards (see them all at http://www.goldentrailer.com) come complete with a Los Angeles banquet and golden trophies that look like actual trailers.
The "Dark Knight" trailer (specifically the second trailer) is a moody mini masterpiece, though it may show too many of the movie's cards. That's not the case for the latest heavyweight film to release a trailer: the new James Bond flick "Quantum of Solace."
The two-minute teaser will play before the newly opened "Hancock," but has already this week bounced around the Internet. More than half a million have watched it on YouTube.
Two other attention-grabbing trailers out now feature Brad Pitt. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a highly anticipated film based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a man who ages backward. A potential awards candidate (and not just the Golden Trailers), the David Fincher-directed movie is being advertised in an elegant, dreamy trailer almost without dialogue or narration.
The Coen Brothers last year had a handsome trailer for "No Country For Old Men." Their follow-up, "Burn After Reading," returns the Coens to their screwball roots. Starring Pitt and George Clooney, the trailer is a quirky montage that leaves the viewer — as a good trailer should — with only the slightest understanding of what the movie's about.
The importance of a good trailer isn't lost on filmmakers. Last year, while discussing his "There Will Be Blood," director Paul Thomas Anderson told The Associated Press that the only disagreement he had with the studio was over what he called "the YouTube incident of 2007."
While editing the movie last summer, Anderson decided to enliven things by cutting a trailer, which he posted on YouTube. The simplicity of the process — not dealing with the studio or the Motion Picture Association of America — was "like a filmmaker's fantasy."
Of course, online video promotion can take many forms. Advertising for the upcoming "Hellboy II" includes a smart parody of "Inside the Actor's Studio." James Lipton finds himself interviewing the armed demon warrior of the film, played by Ron Perlman.
With a summer full of such trailers, all that's left is to find out if the movies are as good.