“Bad Education,” the outrageous comedy drama about the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history, created a stir last year when HBO bought the film for a record $20 million at the Toronto International Film Festival. That's among the most expensive festival buys of all time. The Hugh Jackman led film, which premieres this Saturday on the cable network, was also a huge hit with YouGov Direct users this week.
But regardless of whether movie lovers are viewing films on their televisions, laptops or even in cinemas, many will still want to see a trailer before deciding what to watch. Each week, YouGov Direct asks a group of its members to watch movie trailers. We then report on what they say. YouGov Direct’s surveys investigate how effective movie trailers are in persuading people to consider going to see a film, what they think about the content of the trailer, and how good or bad they expect the movie to be. Thousands of people provide immediate feedback on movie trailers using the YouGov Direct platform.
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This week “Bad Education” had one of the most effective trailers. Before watching the trailer 28 percent of YouGov Direct users said they would watch the fact-based comedy. But after viewing, that number rose to 40 percent.
YouGov Direct also asks respondents to tell us how good or bad they think a movie will be, based on the trailer. “Bad Education” scored the highest result, with 3.7. This is out of a possible 5.0 and compared to a median score of 3.5 for all trailers tested to date. Indie drama “To The Stars” came in close second with 3.6.
The film's cast was a big draw for respondents. When asked what they liked best about the trailer, 42 percent said they liked one or more of the actors depicted. In this, YouGov Direct users are in line with the vast majority of film critics. When writing about Hugh Jackman's performance, for example, Variety Magazine said “‘Bad Education’ is the best work he’s ever done’.
But it wasn't just “Bad Education” that turned heads this week. The trailer for coming-of-age period drama “To The Stars” was also well received by YouGov Direct users. The film follows a withdrawn farmer's daughter as she forges an intimate friendship with a worldly but reckless new girl in 1960s Oklahoma.
The black and white film definitely made an impression on respondents. Pre-trailer, one out of five (20%) said they were likely to see this movie. Post-trailer, that number increased to 34 percent. That's a lift of 14 percentage points in intent, and the highest lift this week. Of those who said they were likely to watch the film, 70 percent said they would rather watch this visually striking drama via streaming or download services than wait a few months to see it in cinemas.
What did users like most about the trailer? Nearly half of respondents said they enjoyed the story or theme (42%). A further 24 percent of users said they liked the look of the retro-inspired trailer.
Another female-led film piqued interest among potential audiences this week. “Bit” tells the story of a transgender teenage girl on summer vacation in Los Angeles. She falls in with four queer feminist vampires, who try to rid the city's streets of predatory men.
Prior to seeing the trailer, 14 percent of YouGov Direct users said they were somewhat or very likely to see this intersectional feminist flick. After viewing the trailer, 23 percent of respondents said they were now likely to see it. Most respondents said they enjoyed the trailer’s story or theme (38%). This is perhaps not surprising given the film's unique logline.
But despite drumming up some interest, YouGov Direct users did not rate the film highly. When we asked users to tell us how good or bad they think the movie will be, based on the trailer, they rated “Bit” 3.0 out of a possible 5.0, the lowest rating this week. One in five, (22 %) users also said “I didn’t like anything” when asked to say what they liked best about the trailer.
Rounding out this week is “The True History of the Kelly Gang,” a historical drama about the infamous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang of criminal misfits. The film is Directed by Justin Kurzel, whose previous credits include the critically acclaimed “Macbeth” (2015) and box office bomb “Assassin's Creed” (2017).
Before watching the trailer, 12 percent said they would watch the dark psycho-drama. After viewing, that number increased to 22 percent. When asked what they liked best about the trailer, over a third of viewers (32%) enjoyed the story/theme of the trailer. But a large number of viewers (26%) were also drawn to the overall look of this psychedelic western.
Out of all the films this week, it was “The True History of the Kelly Gang” that users were most looking forward to seeing in a cinema. Of those who said they were likely to watch the film, 45 percent said they would rather wait a few months to see this outlaw punk biopic on the big screen. Seeing as it will be many months before cinemas reopen, they may want to watch the film on IFC Midnight this weekend instead.
Methodology: Data is based on 4,000 interviews, including a minimum of 400 responses for each movie trailer tested. Interviews were conducted through YouGov Direct on April 23, 2020.