They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, the movie version of that old adage is you can’t judge movies by their trailers. Much like a book cover, the purpose of a movie trailer is to entice you to fork over $13.95 to see that movie in a theater. However, sometimes the people who edit movies trailers are too good at their jobs, and they end up making a movie look way better than it actually is.
Want some examples of bad movies with awesome trailers? Below you’ll find our picks for the top five. Think you can do better? Let us hear about it in the comments section.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad scored just a 27-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has a barely respectable 6.0 on IMDB. So why did this film about an elite squad of DC supervillains make $325 million at the box office? Because the film’s first trailer was one of the best trailers of all time. Edited to sync perfectly with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rapsody,” this trailer made Suicide Squad look like it would be one of the freshest, most exciting comic book movies in years. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. decided to change the tone of the film in post-production, so fans never got to see the film promised by the trailer.
Terminator Salvation (2013)
While the third Terminator movie was pretty bad, the first two installments of the beloved sci-fi action franchise are certified classics. So fans were really hopeful that the fourth installment, directed by McG and starring none other than Christian Bale, would restore the beloved franchise to its former glory. Then the trailer dropped, and the buzz went through the roof, because it was incredible. Unfortunately, the actual film fell way short of expectations, with critics throwing around words like “soulless,” “shambolic,” and “turgid.” Ouch.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Ben Stiller directed and starred in this remake of the classic James Thurber short story about an ordinary man who escapes the boredom and monotony of his real life by escaping into a fantasy world filled with adventure and romance. The trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty had it all—a comedic actor in a dramatic role looking wistful and forlorn while staring out windows, a melancholy indie song, slow-motion tracking shots, exotic locations, adventure! In fact, the trailer was so good that Walter Mitty actually generated some Oscar buzz before it hit theaters. Then people saw it and... meh? Not that amazing.
Max Payne (2008)
Max Payne features gorgeous cinematography and tons of slick action, not to mention Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. So it’s hardly surprising that the trailer for this dark film about a maverick cop hell-bent on revenge looked really freakin' cool. Unfortunately, in the end, no amount of cinematography, slick action, or star power could make up for all the plot holes and stale dialogue.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Stunning visuals! Epic battles! Cataclysmic destruction! Shia LeBeouf! This trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon is basically perfect. Plus, the presence of actors like Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, and John Turturro might make you think, "Hey, maybe this movie will actually make sense." But no. While the trailer hashes out the basic elements of a plot—bad guys on the moon? Planetary invasion and mass destruction?—the film doesn’t do anything to advance these ideas. Like every other Michael Bay movie, it’s mostly just loud explosions... lots and lots of loud explosions.