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Top 10 Misleading Movie Trailers

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by George Cimurt. This proves that first impressions aren’t always right. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 misleading movie trailers. For this list, we’re taking a look at trailers that led us to believe or expect something about a movie when the opposite was actually true. And, obviously, spoiler alert! Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison, Norris Vaughn, DarkSeraph44, Ross Sapp, Sam Halford, Top Wilson, ECKohns, Jordan Rodriguez and JacobJettParker for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by George Cimurt.

Top 10 Misleading Movie Trailers

This proves that first impressions aren’t always right. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 misleading movie trailers.

For this list, we’re taking a look at trailers that led us to believe or expect something about a movie when the opposite was actually true. In many cases, the studio designed these trailers to appeal to a target market that the film simply wasn’t designed for. And, obviously, spoiler alert!

#10: “The Rules of Attraction” (2002)

As the funky music starts and we watch teenagers party, drink, and generally misbehave, it seems like we’re witnessing the coming-of-age, teen comedy of the year. With James van der Beek uttering one-liners and chasing after girls throughout the trailer, we were under the impression that we’d be leaving the theater laughing. What we got instead was a pessimistic story centered on a sociopath, which also features suicide and is filled with a lot of unhappy teens struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, promiscuity, and depression.

#9: “Executive Decision” (1996)

Featuring a plot to poison the entire Eastern seaboard and performances by the likes of Steven Seagal and Kurt Russell, the sneak peek for this action film really had moviegoers pumped when they saw it in 1996. With Seagal leading the strike force to commandeer the plane that’s been hijacked, the trailer convinces us (with explosions, one-liners, and smooth voiceover) that this is going to be another action flick in which Seagal will entertain us with some serious butt-kicking. Most of us were surprised, then, when the star died in “Executive Decision”’s first 20 minutes. So much for kicking butt…more like kicking the bucket.

#8: “Jarhead” (2005)

From the moment this trailer opens, the sight of a bald Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier is enough to convince us to put this movie on our must-watch list. With scenes of commanding officers barking out orders, military exercises, explosions, gunshots, and planes zooming overhead, we thought that this 2005 film might be another “Saving Private Ryan.” However, fans of violent action movies were sorely disappointed to find out that “Jarhead” was actually a biographical drama that intentionally contained very little action – not to mention: Gyllenhaal’s character never actually ends up shooting his rifle.

#7: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007)

The trailer of this gothic revenge tale begins by showing a young man, played by Johnny Depp, with a wife and child enjoying a happy life. But this is too soon destroyed by a corrupt judge who sends him off on what seem to be false charges while his wife and child are captured. He returns a changed man and is now a killer who gangs up with his landlady and has a desire for revenge. What the trailer doesn’t tell you is that the flick is a musical, and that Johnny Depp and the rest of the gang sing on…and on…and on…

#6: “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)

When Guillermo del Toro’s combination of a war-torn Spain under the control of Franco’s fascist party and a fantasy world with nightmarish creatures first appeared in the form of a preview, we were entranced. With a dark and brooding atmosphere perpetuated throughout the trailer, together with haunting music and an intense voiceover describing the events we see, the absence of dialogue made “Pan’s Labyrinth”’s trailer even more brooding and mysterious. When it finally came out, we knew why: The entire movie was recorded in Spanish.

#5: “Drive” (2011)

Featuring a calm and stony-faced Ryan Gosling, the trailer for “Drive” convinced us we were in for a flick reminiscent of the “Fast and the Furious” movies. Featuring revving engines, squealing tires, dangerous stunts, and a lot of shooting guns, the film shocked us when we found out it was more of an emotional and layered drama than a mindless action picture. One Michigan woman was so upset about being misled into thinking it’d “race action film” when it actually had “very little driving” that she took the case to court.

#4: “Godzilla” (2014)

Don’t get us wrong, this movie was awesome, and the trailer captures the suspense, the dread, and the sheer epic-ness marvelously. From Bryan Cranston’s opening monologue, we know that the film will be glorious, and the subsequent seconds of the preview brilliantly weave together scenes of destruction, panic, and fearfully spoken lines. However, while the trailer makes it look like Cranston has a lead role, possibly to capitalize on his “Breaking Bad” popularity, his character actually dies at the end of “Godzilla”’s first act!

#3: “Hook” (1991)

When this trailer opens up, we’re not sure what to expect. The darkness is foreboding, the music is eerie, and two children gasp as a doorknob wiggles, creaks, and shoots open with unnatural lighting while an old man screams: “Hook! Hook!” The sneak peek made us think what we were witnessing was a serial killer or a monster movie. In reality, this early ‘90s Steven Spielberg film ended up being a charming, funny, and magical family adventure that followed an adult Peter Pan as he stumbles back into Neverland to save his kids.

#2: “Bridge to Terabithia” (2007)

Two children laugh and run together into a forest. We see a magical kingdom filled with fairies, walking trees, and an assortment of other bizarre and fascinating creatures. This trailer has all the features of a kid-friendly, adventure fantasy that’re sure to lift the soul and inspire the imagination. Unfortunately, anyone hoping for these characteristics must have been quite disappointed when what they got was a bleak, hard-to-watch drama showing kids struggling with mourning, abandonment, and death, and very little of the enchanted kingdom showed so prominently in the trailer.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Nothing Supernatural About It
“Angel Eyes” (2001)
- It’s Not Actually About Olaf and Sven’s Friendship
“Frozen” (2013)
- Where’d the Giant Naval Fleet Go?
“The Last Airbender” (2010)
- So Many Missing Scenes
“Paranormal Activity 3” (2011)
- The Old Wise Man Isn’t in the Film
“The Invisible” (2007)

#1: “Alien 3” (1992)

This was the teaser trailer that contains one of the Hollywood’s most notorious taglines: “On Earth, everyone can hear you scream.” Although we were excited at the prospect of seeing Sigourney Weaver as Ripley again in this third film of the “Alien” franchise, the trailer basically told us that the movie was set on Earth—which it wasn’t. It was actually set on a prison-like refinery planet! The reason for the misleading trailer was that at the time of its release, the sci-fi horror movie hadn’t been completed in its entirety. Production issues and multiple re-writes contributed to dozens of new scripts and, in the end, a totally different movie that made the studio who released this teaser look not so bright.

Do you agree with our list? Which trailer tricked you about the film it was previewing? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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