Theater Trailer for ‘United 93’ a Painful Jolt for Some Viewers
Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 4, 2006, pgs. A1, A7.
The article discusses the reactions to the new previews for the movie ‘United 93’ which presents the story of the flight which crashed near Shanksville, Pa., on 9/11 after 40 passengers and crew members fought back against the hijackers. Some have said that after watching previews for such movies as Mission Impossible III, the Da Vinci Code and other violent movies, theater goers don’t realize at first when the trailer for ‘United 93’ begins that they are watching a preview for a true story. The trailer begins with everyday people getting on a plane, airline attendants talking about getting home, pilots talking with the traffic control tower. About half way through the preview though, men with explosives rush the cockpit, passengers panic, and some call loved ones on cell phones. Many watching the trailer have said that up to this point, though something familiar about the story line is registering, they don’t realize what, until a T.V. screen shows the actual footage of another plane flying into the World Trade Center and suddenly it hits them. Though it’s been almost five years since the attacks, a number of individuals seeing the trailer for the first time stated it brings the event back viscerally, some saying it’s like reliving that day.
A number of experts question a larger issue related to the content and presentation of movie previews.
Several have said that when attending a movie in a theater audience members have a general idea of what they are about to watch, having chosen to view that particular film. Yet they have no control over what previews will be presented prior to the main feature. Even when trailers preview movies that are fiction some people have reported being uncomfortable when watching the content, especially since the material shown is often high action and indicates violent subject matter in order to grab peoples attention in the hopes of encouraging them to see the movie. Yet when a trailer comes on unexpectedly depicting a real life tragedy, many argue, particularly one that was in some way experienced by the entire nation, it can cause negative reactions in audience members who have no say in what will be previewed. So many people reported strong negative responses to the trailer for ‘United 93’ that many theaters have stopped showing it. The greater question raised by this, though, seems to be should moviegoers who are paying to watch a particular film of choice, be forced to be subjected to movie trailers that may include content objectionable to some with no say in the matter.