How films such as Terminator 2, Titanic and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace provided fuel for other films’ marketing campaigns.

There’s a small subset of movie trailers that are shot entirely for promotional purposes. It might be stating the obvious, but I’m talking about the trailers that contain footage you don’t see in the movies at all. The obvious example that tends to spring to mind is the superb trailer made for Terminator 2: Judgment Day that was shot in advance of a frame of movie going in the can (a lot more on that right here).

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However, I’ve got a soft spot too for the movie trailers that are positioned to pull the leg of other movies, and other movie trailers. One or two of the examples I’ve got here do actually use material that made the final films too, but the promotional campaigns were deliberately pulling the legs of others..

Let’s start with the majestic, much-missed Leslie Nielsen…

THE NAKED GUN 2½

Arriving the same summer of Terminator 2: Judgment Day was another sequel, although perhaps not on the same scale as the James Cameron/Arnold Schwarzenegger juggernaut. Still, The Naked Gun 2 1/2 : The Smell Of Fear was anticipated, and for the promotion, it was decided to piggyback what had been expected to be the biggest movie of the year.

Take a look…

AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME

Perhaps the best known spoof movie trailer came in the summer of 1999. Again, this was a case that there was a film widely expected to be the runaway massive success of the year. That would be Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, from George Lucas. Keen to jump on its coattails? That’d be the Austin Powers sequel. The first movie had done decent box office but was a huge success on home video.

The second would gross a flat-out fortune – as I’ve gone into more here – and in large part that was down to the promotional campaign. Including this superb trailer…

ALI G IN DA HOUSE

Whilst Sacha Baron Cohen has enjoyed sizeable success with his two Borat movies, he did have a first run at box office gold with Ali G In Da House. The film turned up in 2002 and went down pretty well. It turned a decent profit as well, although no follow up was every greenlit.

When it came to promote the film, the following trailer was put out, and it channelled the tone of films such as The Sum Of All Fears and the same year’s The Bourne Identity

THE MUPPETS

Some films go for a single spoof trailer to channel the tone of other films to their advantage. When the superb big screen resurrection of The Muppets came along in 2011 though, Disney’s marketing department utterly excelled themselves. A series of promotions came out, and here are two of them. It helps if you’ve seen the trailer for David Fincher’s English-language take on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo first though if you haven’t – so here’s that…

And here’s how The Muppets approached it…

But there were more. Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds, was expected to be a massive hit in 2011, so it made perfect sense to try and mirror that. Here’s what they came up with…

THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

And now onto the wonderful Aardman. Not only is it one of the finest animation studios on Planet Earth, but also, it’s clearly a company packed with movie nerds. Thus, when it became time to promote its 2012 feature The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists – renamed for reasons I still don’t get to The Pirates! Band Of Misfits in the US – it turned to one of the biggest films of all time. The second film on this list to hat tip James Cameron, here’s one of the trailers that was used to promote the film…

FARMAGEDDON: A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

And another Aardman entry. The wonderful second Shaun The Sheep movie is full of references to science fiction movies anyway, but the initial teaser trailer for it harked back to a certain Steven Spielberg 1970s favourite…

COMEDIAN

Finally, the trailer that spoofed trailers quite wonderfully, and I’d argue it’s one of the very best movie promos of all time. Come at me in the comments if you want.

It’s a trailer for the 2002 documentary feature Comedian, from director Christian Charles. It follows Jerry Seinfeld and up and coming comedian by the name of Orny Adams, and it’s a pretty decent movie. What the following trailer features though is neither of those. Instead, some bright spark – who deserves a bonus – came up with the idea of hiring legendary voiceover artist, the late Hal Douglas.

Douglas was game, and this happened…

The spoof trailer has fallen out of vogue a little in recent years (and some films – such as the South Park movie – did trailers that were splendid spoofs but didn’t lean into other films). It’s a trend I’d like to see return, personally. But some of these set quite a high bar…

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