14 Movies Trailers That Misled Audiences


Movie studios sure love doing the ol’ bait and switch.

I assume it’s pretty difficult to market a movie. You have to create trailers that give just enough away to pique audiences’ interest, but not give too much away as to spoil the movie. And, of course, you have to accurately represent the film, right?

Well sometimes in order to reach a broader audience and make the most amount of money, production companies just completely forget about that last one, and make trailers that are just…wrong.

Sometimes, they create trailers that suggest a movie is an entirely different genre or has an entirely different tone. Or, they take out-of-context scenes or quotes and form a false narrative. Or, even worse, they shoot new scenes just for the trailer, all while having no intention of putting them in the movie.

This happens pretty often, and with some big movies too. Here are 14 examples of movies with very misleading trailers:


Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Warner Bros. Pictures

This is a perfect example of how sometimes a trailer fails to capture the tone or spirit of a movie, effectively turning its audience away. The trailer makes it seem like Edge of Tomorrow is dark, depressing, generic, and devoid of any humor. Of course, a few minutes into the movie, you can already tell that’s not the case. 

This movie is fun and unique. Everyone’s performances are so good, including Bill Paxton’s (which, for some reason, was completely downplayed in the trailer, and reduced to a line or two of what seems like serious dialogue, even though he’s completely hamming it up in the movie).


Jennifer’s Body (2009)

20th Century Studios

This may be seen as an essential feminist horror film now, but when Jennifer’s Body was first released, the marketing made it seem like it was gonna be some sort of exploitative, male-gaze, teen sex movie.

The filmmakers were pretty upset when they saw how their film was being marketed. Karyn Kusama, the director of the film, even told BuzzFeed News that one of the marketing ideas was for Megan Fox to “host an amateur porn site to promote the film.” She and writer, Diablo Cody reached out for an explanation of the misleading marketing, and received back this crude email response: “Jennifer sexy, she steal your boyfriend.”


Drive (2011)


Drive was marketed as a Fast and the Furious-type action movie but is actually more of a modern noir film. So when one Michigan woman saw the movie, she complained that it actually contained “very little driving” and “bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film.” Naturally, she sued the distributor.

A better marketing campaign would have been a two-and-a-half-minute trailer of uncut footage of Ryan Gosling driving his ’73 Chevy Malibu at night through a neon-lit city listening to “A Real Hero” by Electric Youth. But, that’s just me.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Universal Pictures

The marketing team for this movie was, I’m assuming, trying to reach Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar fans or something. I mean, the trailer for this movie realllly makes it seems like a goofy, feel-good comedy, but it’s…um, you know, NOT that. It doesn’t exactly fit into one specific genre; it’s kind of a romance and kind of a sci-fi drama with elements of comedy. But, it’s definitely an *emotional* and existential look at relationships, memories, and pain.


Bridge to Terabithia (2007)


The trailer for this movie is not only misleading, but it’s also just not good. It reveals nothing about the plot or the characters, and it’s hard to even stay focused on the less than two-minute ad because it’s basically just random shots of a forest with CGI creatures. The actual movie, based on a novel of the same name, is a coming-of-age story about a young kid, Jess, who, while struggling with his father, his family’s lack of money, and school bullies, forms a close friendship with the new girl at school, and then shortly after, has to deal with her death. There are scenes that take place in the CGI-riddled forest (named Terabithia), of course, but the movie is “grounded in reality far more than in fantasy.”


Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Universal Pictures

The trailer for Fast Times boasts it’s a movie about “everything you always wanted to do in high school with everyone you always wanted to do it with.” It appears to be a slapstick sex comedy in the vein of Porky’s or Animal House. It also introduces four supporting characters as if they were the protagonists. 

The actual movie, however, is more of a coming-of-age story about a teen named Stacy (who’s not even mentioned in the trailer) and her exploration of sex. It depicts a much more realistic view of sex than a normal ’80s teen sex romp, and even includes a “low-key and authentic” abortion scene.


Kangaroo Jack (2003)

Warner Bros. Pictures

The marketing for Kangaroo Jack presented it as a fun kid’s movie about a talking kangaroo. Shortly after the film’s release, it was clear the movie was not what it had appeared to be. Critics even warned parents not to bring their kids to see it, as it was “too crude, violent and offensive for younger viewers.”

Turns out, Kangaroo Jack was originally a much more mature movie with “a lot of cursing” and “a lot of sex.” After poor test screenings, the filmmakers edited it into what they thought was appropriate for kids. They really played up the kangaroo aspect, too, even though it’s barely in the film and doesn’t really talk. The part in the trailer where it talks (and raps) is just a dream sequence.


Catfish (2010)

Universal Pictures

The marketing for the 2010 documentary Catfish suggests the film is horror. The trailer essentially shows a found-footage horror movie — a group of friends, happy and smiling, pack their filmmaking gear, go on a road trip, discover something’s amiss, investigate, and eventually, things become chaotic. There’s even a quote from a critic in the trailer who compared the film to Hitchcock movies. 

While Catfish is suspenseful, it’s far from horror. The movie was released right in the midst of the found footage era, just a few years after Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield, and two years before Chronicle. Either the marketing team wanted to appeal to that sort of crowd, or they intentionally misled us in order to echo what happens to the filmmakers in the documentary. Either way, it worked. The movie was a critical and commercial success, and it even launched a TV series of the same name.


Red Eye (2005)

DreamWorks Pictures

The ads for Red Eye were all intentionally misleading…at first. Each of the trailers for the film begins as if Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy are having a meet-cute at the airport, with music and dialogue that makes it seem like a romantic comedy. The tone quickly shifts as they get on the airplane and Murphy’s character reveals he’s actually a villain, and this movie is actually a thriller. But this isn’t why the movie’s on this list, because, even though we were misled at first, we’re eventually told the truth.

Red Eye is on this list because in one specific trailer, after the big villainous reveal, the marketing team decided to digitally alter Cillian Murphy’s eyes to glow red, suggesting this is actually a supernatural horror film. It’s not; it’s a thriller about a domestic terrorist (Murphy) who blackmails a hotel manager (McAdams) into switching the hotel room of the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, in order to assassinate him. Regular humans’ eyes don’t glow red, so interesting choice for a film about regular humans.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2006)

Warner Bros. Pictures

When the trailer was first released for Sweeney Todd, I’m sure a lot of Stephen Sondheim fans were super confused. The trailer, and even the print ads, made no mention that this was a musical. There are a few seconds in the middle of the trailer where Johnny Depp sort of talk-sings, but considering how this movie is almost entirely made up of singing, it seems the marketing team took the very little dialogue from the movie, shoved it in the trailer, and tried to pass this off as a Tim Burton slasher.

So, of course, typical horror fans were pissed when they sat down in theaters and realized what they had just bought tickets to. People walked out of theaters, and complaints were even made to the Trading Standards and the Advertising Standards Agency. The Sweeney Todd debacle is seen as “one of the biggest bait-and-switch marketing schemes in movie history.”


Black Christmas (2006)

20th Century Studios

The trailer for this horror film featured scenes that weren’t in the movie. This isn’t uncommon, especially when a movie’s not even finished with its final edits. Unfortunately, that wasn’t really the case with Black Christmas. The production company actually shot brand new scenes, specifically to use in the trailer. 

The director was called by the distributors and asked if they could do some extra “shots for TV spots — ornaments and stuff.” Instead, they added a new character, a scene involving a hand shooting up out of frozen ice, and Michelle Trachtenberg wielding a shotgun and saying “Merry Christmas, motherfucker!” So, we (and the director) were completely lied to.


Predators (2010)

20th Century Studios

When fans went to see Predators in theaters, they were expecting a scene where Adrien Brody’s character is covered in 15 laser targets, presumably from 15 different Predators, as seen in the trailer. However, in the actual movie, there’s one single laser target on him from one single Predator. The shot is identical, save for the number of lasers, so this was clearly a tactic added just for the trailer to get people talking, and thus get more ticket sales.

Yes, this seems to be smaller-scale deception compared to the others on this list, but that shot from the trailer set up certain expectations. And when the movie failed to meet those expectations, audiences felt tricked. So even if they loved the movie, they definitely left the theater with a bad taste in their mouth.


Fantastic Four (2015)

20th Century Studios

The production of this movie was wrought with problems from the start. During filming, the producers rewrote the script and completely changed the ending. Then, 20th Century Fox demanded heavy reshoots. So it’s no surprise that the marketing was a big ol’ mess too.

After too much studio involvement, we were left with a trailer full of scenes that never made it into the final cut of the movie. It was later revealed that “even the most popular image of the Thing, put out by the studio, didn’t appear in the finished product.”

You can see what scenes from the trailer didn’t make the cut here.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Paramount Pictures

The original theatrical trailer for Ferris Bueller apparently shows us two siblings that we didn’t know Ferris even had. In the movie, we’re introduced to Jeanie, Ferris’ younger teenage sister, but he originally had another younger sister and a younger brother.

This is definitely the least divisive one on this list, and in the grand scheme of things, I’m sure people didn’t leave the theater mad (except maybe the actors whose scenes were cut).

Have you ever been misled by a movie trailer? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments!

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