Top 20 Movie Teaser Trailers of All Time

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Top 20 Movie Teaser Trailers of All Time

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
These teaser trailers had our jaws on the floor! For this list, we'll be looking at the best official and short previews for movies that made our excitement skyrocket. Our countdown includes “Back to the Future”, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”, "Godzilla", “The Matrix”, “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, and more!
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Top 20 Teaser Trailers of All Time


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Teaser Trailers of All Time.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best official and short previews for movies that made our excitement skyrocket.

What’s your favorite teaser trailer? Let us know in the comments

#20: “Back to the Future” (1985)

How do you hook an audience in an instant? For starters, you can put Steven Spielberg’s name at the start of your trailer. After the teaser for “Back to the Future” name drops the legendary filmmaker and highlights director Robert Zemeckis, it draws you in by sparking curiosity. Who’s this person in Nikes? What’s this advanced vehicle he’s getting into? What year is it? But once you learn Michael J. Fox is going to time travel 30 years, you’re completely hooked. It’s impressive that this glimpse of “Back to the Future” didn’t have to spoil a single second of the movie. It’s an extremely well-made tease of a sci-fi classic.

#19: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011)

David Fincher’s adaptation of the best-selling “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was one of the most buzzed-about movies of 2011. The teaser trailer offers plenty of visual information with little context. Images flash on the screen of the film’s snowy setting as well as characters like Daniel Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara’s titular hacker Lisbeth Salander. A great cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Karen O underscores this trailer. We were definitely intrigued about the film dubbed as “the feel-bad movie of Christmas” after watching this clip.


#18: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

“Eternal Sunshine” is a different kind of romance movie. So, it’s only fitting that it gets a unique trailer. This teaser starts as a fake commercial for the fictional company Lacuna. A doctor played by Tom Wilkinson, explains how they can help remove unwanted memories. After introducing the core concept, we cut to Jim Carrey’s Joel in rare, non-rubber-faced mode. While we don’t know exactly who he is or what he’s in for, we can tell it’s going to be a wild journey. The teaser also shows off the film’s excellent ensemble. Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, and Elijah Wood will all go along for the ride. While “Eternal Sunshine” might be about deleting memories, this teaser is unforgettable.


#17: “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (2013)

The first “Anchorman” movie was one of the most beloved comedies of the 2000s. It had more hilarious lines and moments than you could shake a jazz flute at. Fortunately, patient fans were rewarded when the sequel was released nine years later. This preview reintroduces mustachioed newsreader Ron Burgundy and his on-air cohorts. Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, and Brick Tamland all come together to tell us a new movie is on the way. While it doesn’t tell us exactly what will happen, the return of these characters is more than enough reason to buy a ticket. 60 percent of the time, this teaser works every time.


#16: “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)

Teaser trailers have been around for longer than you might realize. Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War satire had a remarkable preview in the sixties. As the film’s ridiculously long title flashes across the screen one word at a time, the sound of a bomb exploding plays. From there, the teaser raises questions about the film’s plot and its eccentric cast of characters. Seeing Peter Sellers as the titular doctor was a definite highlight. The preview is amusing, mysterious, and a little disorienting. We instantly knew this would be a movie unlike anything we’d ever seen.

#15: “The Master” (2012)

Since Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” is a drama that hypnotizes you with tension and uncertainty, its teaser appropriately gives you the same feelings. We get little information about Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell. Based on the questions he’s being asked and his nervous demeanor, we can tell he has some serious trauma to work through and that it likely won’t end well. With its gorgeous cinematography, tense score, and Phoenix’s powerful acting, this look at “The Master” has us eager to learn the movie’s secrets— even though we’re terrified by what they might be.

#14: “The Muppets” (2011)

The teaser trailer for the Muppets reboot film pulls off a brilliant bait-and-switch. It starts off looking like just another standard cheesy rom-com starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams. While those two human actors are indeed in this movie, there’s a lot of puppets too. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and plenty of other beloved characters will pop up in this comedy. While we have no idea what they’re all doing there, we’re reassured that we’ll be getting a classic dose of Muppets energy. This teaser reminds us why we adore the muppets so much.

#13: “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” (2015)

It had been nearly a decade since the last live-action “Star Wars” movie when this teaser premiered. So, to say there was anticipation is an understatement. Fans were itching to see where the story would go after the original trilogy. The first trailer is full of imagery associated with the series, like sand dunes, stormtroopers, and, of course, the Millennium Falcon. We also get glimpses of new characters like Finn, Rey, and a lightsaber wielding Kylo Ren. All these images with the sound of John Williams’ iconic score made us countdown the days until this film’s release.

#12: “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)

There’s a special kind of care put into Pixar movies that you don’t get with other studios that even extends to their trailers. The teaser for “Monsters, Inc.” is one of the most clever ones we’ve ever seen. After initially establishing the classic concept of “monsters hiding in the closet”, Pixar subverts expectations by having them specify what these creatures do for work. When lead characters Mike and Sully stumble into a child’s bedroom, we get a taste of Billy Crystal and John Goodman’s great chemistry as voice actors. This funny and inventive teaser is an absolute scream.

#11: “Aliens” (1986)

Seven years passed between the release of sci-fi horror classic “Alien” and its action-packed sequel. While that’s a long time to wait, anyone who saw this teaser was salivating like a Xenomorph. Like all good previews, it intrigues you without giving anything away. We see that Sigourney Weaver’s heroic Ripley is back with a new crew. They’ll also have to try and survive a hostile world while protecting a traumatized little girl. Oh, and there’s at least one alien. We had a sinking feeling that “Aliens” wasn't going to end well for all the characters we were introduced to. With no dialogue and a sound design that will haunt your dreams, this teaser is out of this world.

#10: “The Matrix” (1999)

A sign of an amazing teaser trailer is one that gets you excited even if you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. The Wachowskis hinted at the story of their sci-fi masterpiece with glimpses of characters like Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus. They also let us know the film will have awesome effects and stunt work. Since there’s no dialogue and images come at us with bullet-like speed, we have no time to comprehend what’s happening. We can only surrender to its world. In a stroke of marketing genius, the final screen simply says "www.whatisthematrix.com." We were soon rushing home to our computers to try and find out. More than 20 years later, the “Matrix Resurrections” (xref) trailer gave us that same excitement.


#9: “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999)

Some of the best Comedy is rooted in surprise. We can say that we were definitely caught off-guard when we saw the teaser for the second “Austin Powers” movie. Since it arrived the same summer as “The Phantom Menace,” this teaser took full advantage of our “Star Wars” excitement. We hear what sounds like the heavy breathing of Darth Vader and an interior that looks like the Death Star. However, we're greeted by Dr. Evil himself. The narrator then tells us that: (insert broll for: if we only see one movie that summer, to see "Star Wars.”) However, if we have time for anything else, “Austin Powers” is worth the ticket. To this day, some might argue this teaser was better than the entirety of “The Phantom Menace”.

#8: “Cloverfield” (2008)

In the summer of 2007, audiences went to see the new “Transformers” movie and found their hearts racing before the movie even started. This was all due to a mysterious teaser for a found-footage monster movie produced by J.J. Abrams. It soon got everyone talking because of all the questions it raised. How mysterious was it? Well, there was no title given. We only had the film’s January release date to go off of. Aside from the gimmicks, this is just a good trailer. There's just enough exposition to give us context without spoiling everything. While not everyone was a fan of "Cloverfield" as a movie, no one can deny the power of its marketing campaign.

#7: “Godzilla” (1998)

The teaser trailer for the 1998 “Godzilla” movie is so effective that it’s hard to believe it came from the same people who made the incredibly disappointing movie. During the preview, A museum tour guide tells a group of children about the might of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Suddenly, the building starts shaking. In an instant, an even mightier beast drops its foot in and reduces the T-Rex skeleton to dust. This jaw-dropping “Godzilla” teaser essentially told “Jurassic Park” fans that they haven’t seen anything yet. And before the movie was revealed as another noisy blockbuster, this trailer had us hype for its Memorial Day weekend debut.

#6: “Man of Steel” (2013)

When you have an icon as massive as Superman, you can say more with less. That seemed to be the philosophy behind this teaser for director Zack Snyder’s moody take on the Superman origin story. The muted color palette and gorgeous score alone are enough to induce chills well before we see Superman actually take off. Narrated by Russell Crowe's Jor-El, it shows the young and adult Clark Kent as he makes his way through a world that may never understand him. Although the tone is quite serious, Crowe's narration and the beautiful images give us hope. And that’s exactly what we look for from Superman.


#5: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

The full-length trailer for “Terminator 2” is rather infamous for giving away the film’s biggest twist: that Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg assassin is the hero instead of the villain this time. In a perfect world, the teaser would’ve been our only hint at “T2”. It shows us the T-800 on the assembly line before and after it’s fitted with living tissue. All the preview needs to do to pump us up is an electronic score and the sight of Schwarzeneggar flexing his gargantuan muscles. And to show how massive of a pop culture icon the Terminator had become, it ends with an "I'll be back." Not only was he back, but he was also better than ever.

#4: “Jurassic Park” (1993)

It’s quite a feat to generate excitement for a movie about dinosaurs with a trailer that doesn’t feature any dinosaurs. But withholding the T. Rex and other extinct creatures from this teaser was a genius marketing move. The bulk of the focus is placed on a mosquito that’s fossilized in amber and contains the dinosaur blood that will make this theme park possible. This teaser also makes a point of mentioning director Steven Spielberg. At that point, we knew that if any director could make us believe the unbelievable, it was him. Just as “Jurassic Park” is still a triumph of special effects, this teaser is still a triumph of marketing.

#3: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)

This wasn’t just a teaser for a movie; it was an introduction into a whole new cinematic world. While J.R.R. Tolkien’s genre-defining fantasy series had been adapted for film before, the definitive version will always be Peter Jackson’s live-action trilogy. We still get just as many goosebumps watching the “Fellowship of the Ring” teaser today as when we first saw it. Even those unfamiliar with the story were interested in the infamous ring and the inscription it contained. We also get glimpses of the film's astonishing imagery, beloved characters and plenty of emotion. Galadriel’s line is the most stirring of them all. With this teaser, we knew movies had changed forever.


#2: “The Shining” (1980)

The teaser for Stanley Kubrick’s haunting adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about horror at a remote hotel is daring and brilliant in its simplicity. In true Kubrick fashion, the camera lingers on a shot of the blood-red elevator doors in the lobby of the Overlook Hotel. A tense score plays as the title and credits scroll up the screen. You just know something bad is going to happen. After things reach an unbearable fever pitch, it becomes clear why those elevators were red as blood. If someone isn’t convinced a teaser trailer can qualify as great art, just show them this.

#1: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021)

Nearly 20 years after Raimi’s first “Spider-Man” movie, the webslinger’s adventures are as popular as ever. While there are many explanations for why “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was a massive success, this teaser has to be one of them. It focuses on Tom Holland’s Peter Parker dealing with having his secret exposed to the world and seeking Dr. Strange’s assistance. Unfortunately, this wish has severe multiversal consequences beyond our universe. It also makes you feel like there’s much more to see by ending with Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock greeting Peter. Not only was this teaser highly anticipated, but it broke online records for viewership. There was no way we were missing “No Way Home” after that.
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