20 years ago this week, a movie was released that would change cinema-going for the worse
The lies. THE LIES!
Released on 29 July 1998, The Negotiator hit cinemas, arriving as exactly the kind of film that could be perfectly described as a way to pass the time, as it was not going to end up on anyone's Best Of or Worst Of lists that year.
The plot was fun enough, with Samuel L. Jackson starring as a hostage negotiator who is framed for a crime he didn't commit and ends up taking over a police HQ room, and holding everyone inside hostage. He then requests a specific hostage negotiator, played by Kevin Spacey, as he believes he may be the only man who can help prove his innocence, despite the fact that they've never actually met before.
It is a decent set-up, with the two leads having fun with their roles, and the whole thing was directed well enough by F. Gary Gray (who would go on to bigger and better things like Fast & Furious 8 and the upcoming Men In Black reboot), and critics were generally kind, giving it 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audiences, however, were less kind.
The movie cost $50 million to produce (not including promotions and advertising), and it made just $49 million worldwide, and we think we know why.
Watch the trailer:
Clip via mrkevinmccabe
For 99% of that trailer, it looks like a decent, suspenseful action-thriller with two great actors in it, full of potential.
Right up until that final line (and apologies for the 20-year-old spoiler): "Now you're going to have to deal with both of us."
Well, what is the point of watching the movie after seeing that?
For years now, people have been complaining about trailers giving too much away, but that isn't actually the problem here.
No, the issue is that final snippet, with Spacey claiming he was now on Jackson's side? Yeah, that isn't in the movie.
That spoiler-y scene seems to exist solely for the people watching the trailer, which is just... well, insane. We're well aware of reshoots and things needing to get changed around, but this was something else altogether. Spacey's mouth was covered in the scene, so we don't actually see his mouth say those words, so it really does feel like it was never part of the movie in the first place.
And in the last year alone, we've seen an increased amount of this "trailer-only" footage, and in some cases, it is impossible to figure out why it exists in the trailer at all.
Take, for example, the early trailer for Thor: Ragnarok...
Clip via Marvel Entertainment
Right near the start of the trailer, we see Thor chuck his hammer at Cate Blanchett, who grabs it and crushes it and causes a huge lightning explosion down a back alley of a major city.
However, anyone who watched the movie will know that this scene took place alongside Loki, and it happened on an empty mountain somewhere in Norway.
Not a huge change, which also goes for the trailer for Mission: Impossible - Fallout trailer:
Clip via Paramount Pictures
At 1.53, we see Cruise hanging from a rope above a huge party scene, and the rope then snaps and he swings above the crowd, hopefully without being noticed.
At 2.24, we see Cruise flying a helicopter at low altitude, barely above a road, and ahead we see a truck jack-knifed on the road, the image cutting out just before they collide.
Neither of these scenes actually happen in the movie. (Which doesn't matter too much, cos the movie is still awesome...)
But perhaps the most misleading is found in the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War...
Clip via Marvel Entertainment
Marvel and Disney must know all too well that fans will be combing over these trailers in order to find any little nugget of information they possibly can, and at the 1.59 mark you can see the movie's big money shot, of all the heroes heading into battle in Wakanda.
EXCEPT... anyone who has seen the movie will know that Hulk isn't anywhere to be seen in that fight, and instead we see Mark Ruffalo wearing Tony Stark's Hulk-Buster suit.
We are getting perilously close to the point where it is no longer an issue that we can't trust trailers on their quality, but that we can't even trust what we're seeing in the trailers will be in the movie we'll eventually go to see.
Sometimes that trick is pulled off quite well - just think of what Deadpool 2 did with the heavy inclusion of the X-Force team - but 20 years ago this week, it all seemed to originate with Patient Zero of the Lying Trailer.
Happy Birthday, The Negotiatior! We hardly knew ye...