On July 22, 2016 one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood was let loose when it was announced that Adam Wingard’s new found footage film THE WOODS was actually the sequel BLAIR WITCH. With that announcement came a trailer that, as is the case with so many other horror movie trailers that have been released this year, contains a ton of spoilers. I had the chance to speak with BLAIR WITCH director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett about the spoiler-ific trailer.
***MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BLAIR WITCH TO FOLLOW***
While the director and screenwriter don’t usually have much of a say when it comes to cutting a trailer, Wingard and Barret are fortunate enough to have such a good relationship with Lionsgate that they were allowed a lot of input into the editing of the film’s trailer.
“One of the many reasons we were excited to make this film is because we have a pretty good relationship with Lionsgate after working with them on YOU’RE NEXT,” Barrett said. “We actually did have a lot of input on what was included in the trailer. And at a certain point there were a couple of trailers early on that among other things we felt showed too much.”
“Also too little,” Wingard replied. “At a certain point you have to get people in there to watch the movie and Simon and I, well we’re not James Wan, you know? ‘From the creators of YOU’RE NEXT and THE GUEST doesn’t quite have the same impact as ‘From the creators of SAW and INSIDIOUS.'”
Because the two aren’t necessarily as marketable as a high-profile director like James Wan, it was clear that the trailer was going to have to show more of the goods to bring people into the theater. How do they feel about that though?
Wingard’s response was understandable. After all, is it really a spoiler if the footage is shown out of context (a similar argument has been made about the twist reveal in the DON’T BREATHE trailer).
“It’s one of those things where it is what it is and ultimately the movie just has so many scares and set pieces. The setups are so unique that I think it’s okay because I think you forget a lot of it before you see the movie. Or it seems so abstract within the trailer. I also think that people who already made up their minds to go see the film (and I do this myself) should just avoid trailers anyway. You say to yourself ‘I’m going to go see a BLAIR WITCH movie. I already know that. So why watch the trailer?'”
Barrett felt similarly, but added:
“I think our feeling is that if you want to see the movie then you can watch the trailer or you can avoid it. If you go see DON’T BREATHE and the trailer comes on you don’t have to leave the theater but at the same time if you don’t want to see the movie then you should be forced to watch out trailer.”
***SERIOUSLY, THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW***
Barrett laughed as he said that last part, clearly implying it as a joke (mostly). Coincidentally, the trailer for DON’T BREATHE also featured several spoilers (more so than that of the trailer for BLAIR WITCH). That trailer explicitly showed a main character’s death (though it did take place in the first act) and revealed a twist from the end of the second act. I pointed out to Wingard and Barrett that the BLAIR WITCH trailer does spoil Talia’s (Valorie Curry) death as well. In the film, Ashley (Corbin Reid) pulls one of the witch’s hanging stick figures down from a tree branch and snaps it in half. The stick figure is revealed to be a voodoo doll of some sort, causing Talia to violently bend over backwards and break her spine.
“Well it does spoil that, yeah,” Wingard said. “But also I feel like the way that it is in the trailer it happens so fast that it’s one of those things where you’re like ‘What just happened?’ The first trailer that they cut explicitly showed that whole sequence. You could tell what happened. You could see her whole body bent in half.”
As Wingard mentioned, there were still many more spoilers in the original cut of the trailer that Wingard and Barrett had to request be removed, but Barrett points out that it was all part of Lionsgate’s master plan.
“I don’t even know if I’m supposed to talk about this but I will because it’s interesting. Sometimes a studio will submit a trailer that has way more R-rated stuff in it than even the studio wants in it because it’s a negotiation with what the MPAA will let them put on TV. Then the MPAA will request cuts and it will be cut down to the version of the trailer that the studio originally wanted.”
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