“The Mauritanian” turns heads with its trailer

February 12, 2021, 8:10 PM UTC

What makes an effective movie trailer? Look no further than “The Mauritanian”, which stood head and shoulders above the competition in this week’s YouGov trailer survey.

Each week YouGov Direct investigates how effective a collection of movie trailers is in persuading people to consider seeing 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.

Learn more about YouGov Direct and find YouGov Direct on the App Store and on Google Play.

Based on the best-selling memoir "Guantánamo Diary" by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, “The Mauritanian” tells the inspiring true story of Slahi's fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the US government for years.

In addition to bagging two Golden Globe nominations last Wednesday, “The Mauritanian” was awarded most effective and most popular trailer in this week’s survey.

Before viewing the trailer, 17% of respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to see this politically charged thriller. After watching the trailer, that number increased to nearly half of all respondents (49%). 

This week’s other Golden Globe nominee, “Judas and The Black Messiah”, fared less well with viewers. Pre-trailer, 18% of users said they were interested in watching this 60s set drama. Post-trailer that number rose to just 33%. 

So what set the trailer for “The Mauritanian” apart from the competition? The film's fact-based narrative appears to be the biggest draw for viewers. When we asked respondents what they liked best about the trailer, more than half said it was the story and themes (56%). The A-list cast was another pull for viewers, with more than two in five saying their favourite part of the trailer was one or more of the actors featured (41%). 

YouGov Direct also asks respondents to tell us how good or bad they think a movie will be based on the trailer. Of all the trailers we tested this week, “The Mauritanian” came out on top with a score of 3.9 out of a possible 5.0. This is compared to a median score of 3.5 for all trailers tested to date. 

But “The Mauritanian” wasn't the only film turning heads this week. Amazon Prime Video captured viewers' attention with the trailer for their new teen romcom, “Map of Tiny Perfect Things”. The film tells the story of a quick-witted teen, happily living the same day in an endless loop, whose world is turned upside-down when he meets a mysterious young woman stuck in the same loop. 

Prior to seeing the trailer, fewer than one in five YouGov Direct respondents said they were likely to see this “Groundhog Day” for teenagers. But after viewing the trailer on the YouGov Direct platform, 46% said they were now likely to see it, making it the most effective streaming trailer of the week. 

The trailer for “Map of Tiny Perfect Things” was also the most effective at persuading viewers to consider subscribing to the streaming service that hosts it. There was an increase of four percentage points in intent to subscribe to Amazon Prime Video after users watched the trailer.

Users might have felt a sense of déjà vu after watching the trailer. The time loop plot has certainly been a popular storytelling device in recent years, featuring in movies like “Palm Springs”, “Horse Girl” and the “Happy Death Day” series. 

But “Map of Tiny Perfect Things” proves that this well-worn premise still has some mileage. More than half of viewers said their favorite thing about the trailer was its time loop story and themes (51%). 

YouGov Direct also offers members the opportunity to learn more about a film after watching the trailer. Despite having an effective trailer, “Map of Tiny Pretty Things” did not have the highest click through rate of the week. Viewers were more curious to read about the other teen romcom being released this week, “To All the Boys: Always and Forever”. The Netflix film had the highest click-through rate of any movie being released on streaming and video-on-demand services this week (6.6%), but it was still below the 6.8% average for all trailers tested to date. The click through rate for “Map of Tiny Pretty Things” was 3.2%. 

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Methodology: Data is based on 4,000 interviews, including a minimum of 400 responses for each movie trailer tested. Surveys were conducted online on February 11, 2021.

Image: Getty