I was just complaining the other day about how much the voiceovers they use in trailers for foreign language films annoy me. It is as if they are afraid to let the audience know that anyone in the film speaks a language other than English. It wouldn’t be so annoying if the voiceovers weren’t always so patronizing and sentimental. Fortunately, it seems as if some distributors are changing how they promote foreign films:
At one time many distributors considered the use of subtitles in foreign language previews a taboo, since that was not an aspect of the film they wanted to emphasize. However in the past few years, Sony Pictures Classics has made a calculated decision to use subtitles in many films’ trailers, including “Goodbye, Lenin!” and “Broken Wings” in current release. “Making a film feel more authentic makes sense to us,” co-founder Michael Barker told indieWIRE.
The success of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was a turning point in the company’s philosophy. “We found that the younger mainstream audience does not have an aversion to subtitles. With the CNN crawl, [instant] messaging, and personal computers, they are using ‘subtitles’ every day,” Barker said. The success of “Run Lola Run” and “Amelie” also bolstered that view.
“If you go to the multiplex, you will see 5 to 6 trailers. I find that they look so similar. We want to be different, in pace or by using subtitles, or using a funky letterbox presentation for a Cinemascope film,” said Barker, “If our trailer looks different, it will stand out.”