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Movie Trailer Script: Making it Happen

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This time around we’ll examine movie trailer scripts and how to write them. We’ll also create some examples of appropriate movie trailers, complete with an explanation of some of the choices behind them.

This post was updated in April 2021

Movie Trailer Scripts Background

Use of Voice-Over Narration

Voice-over narration was a typical feature of movie trailers until quite recently. Today, however, it’s seldom used. Video creators prefer to use clips of the movie itself and let them tell the story. Narration was paramount in trailers, but nowadays, the sole montage of clips and images from the movie seems to do the trick. This seems to be an overarching trend in movie trailer scripts nowadays:

“While the narrator himself might be used sparingly these days, marketers actually haven’t changed the basic structure of the trailer in years. To impart key information like tag-lines and release dates, voiceovers have been usurped by new trailer trends that follow the same format.”

A good example of this change is ‘The Lion King.’ The original trailer from the 1994 movie includes, and indeed is driven by the voice-over narrator. The 2019 remake version trailer, on the other hand, doesn’t use voice-over narration at all.

Three-Act Structure

A trailer is usually 2 minutes 30 seconds at most. And that’s actually quite long for a trailer by the way. As with so many other forms of entertainment, a movie trailer script makes use of a three-act structure. Act One, as usual, lays out the premise of the story and provides the broad strokes of what’s to come. Act 2 is basically the meat of the trailer and ends in a dramatic fashion. Thereafter, Act 3 wraps things up and drives home some important messages and reminders for the viewer.

In terms of pacing, a good rule of thumb is that one second usually equals more or less two words of dialogue on the script. That way, usually a 15-second trailer means writing around 27 words. A 30-second trailer needs about 55 words and a one minute trailer requires a 110-word script.

movie trailer script for freelancers

Teasers vs. Trailers

Teasers are usually released before trailers and are generally used to build anticipation in an audience or potential audience. A trailer offers a slightly more cogent view of the film itself. In fact, some of them tend to reveal a bit too much, which may be a problem as well. Teasers in fact generally don’t have a plotline as such. A trailer, on the other hand, does feature more of a plotline.

Teasers will generally not have a structure per se. They show interesting or particularly amusing moments of the movie. A trailer will generally follow the three-act structure of the movie and try to compress it into a narrative that will work in a very short time frame.

Movie Trailer Script Examples

Very well, let’s try to create some examples of movie trailer scripts we can learn from. Let’s try to write two of each at every turn; one carried by voiceover narration and one relying on images/clips.

For simplicity’s sake, since we mentioned The Lion King, let’s try to create movie trailer scripts for a fictional upcoming Lion King 3. Let’s imagine that we’re attempting to create the continuation of the story of Lion King, and not just a remake. Let’s imagine that this movie deals with Simba’s actual reign as king of the jungle. It will also deal with rumors of a return of Scar, or something like it.

Need a pro to bring your script to life? Submit a project now and we’ll have it ready in no time! 

15 seconds script

When it comes to the short 15-second version, we need to get to the nuts and bolts of the whole thing fast! Let’s try something like this, solely using voiceover narration. We can provide narration and simply intersperse images of the movie throughout:

Narrator (Voice Over):

“In a world where Simba is now king…

New friends abound.

But so do new enemies.

Watch The Lion King 3.

In theaters this summer.”

Now then, what if we forego the use of voiceover narration altogether? As we noted earlier, this is the approach that movie trailer scripts seem to be taking these days. Note that we would be using images and lines from the movie itself. We could end up with something like this, which mimics the first movie trailer script but is something different altogether:

Rafiki:

“You are king now Simba. You must take charge now.”

Jungle Animals:

“We’re with you Simba. We’re with you.”

As Simba walks through the jungle with his pals Timon and Pumbaa, relishing his new role, he hears something.

Disembodied Voice in Jungle:

“I’m not with you Simba… and I’ll do anything in my power to destroy you.”

Simba and his friends seem perplexed.

TEXT: The Lion King 3.

TEXT: This Summer.

As you can see, in this case, we want to tell the story of the trailer by using the images and dialogues which already exist in the movie. In that sense, this approach is not unlike that of writing a traditional script, where voiceover is generally not used.

30 seconds script

To achieve a longer 30-second version, let’s try to write the same basic style of script we wrote earlier. This time, however, let’s try to create a longer version that stays true to the basic structure we’ve already established. Note that in this example we’ll try to stick to only using voiceover but we’ll add a few dialogue clips in the middle. This is typical of voiceover-driven trailers:

Narrator (Voice Over):

“The jungle has a new ruler…

Simba is now king.

But, for how long?”

Images of Simba and friends exploring the plains and jungle…

Narrator (Voice Over):

“New friends abound.

And allies too…

Unfortunately, life in the jungle is not simple.

It never is…”

As Simba and friends explore a passage of the jungle… a disembodied voice…

Scar (Off-Screen):

“I’ll come back for you Simba!”

Narrator (Voice Over):

“Watch The Lion King 3.

In theaters this summer.”

What about this movie trailer script, at an equal length, but without voiceover? The same principles would apply as before. In fact, if we want to add a little bit of length we could even intersperse this with a bit of on-screen text. Images and quotes from the characters themselves are obviously essential:

Rafiki:

“You are king now Simba. You must take charge now.”

TEXT: Simba is now the king of the jungle. But along with this great power come great challenges.

Jungle Animals:

“We’re with you Simba. Yeah, we’re with you.”

Scar (Off-Screen):

“I’m not with you Simba… I’ll destroy you!”

TEXT: Watch as Simba, together with his new friends, fulfills his destiny as the king of the jungle.

TEXT: The Lion King 3.

This Summer.

60 seconds script

Things can let a little trickier if we need a longer movie trailer script. We need to remember to sustain the momentum of the script. It needs to have a three-act structure so that it doesn’t bog down. Let’s try to create one with a voiceover, building upon what we already did before. We can try to intersperse the narrative which we have already been creating along with other tidbits such as dialogue, images, and even on-screen text:

Narrator (Voice Over):

“In a world where Simba is now king.

Simba is now free to rule…

But, for how long?”

Simba and his friends roam around freely.

Narrator (Voice Over):

“Simba has retaken his place as king.

But now there are new challenges.

Simba is ruling, for now…”

Simba is seen ruling and being a good and fair king.

Narrator (Voice Over):

“There is also an enemy in the jungle.

Rumors that Scar has returned.

New friends abound.

As well as allies.

Unfortunately, life in the jungle is not simple.”

Simba and his friends Timon and Pumbaa encounter an evil Scar ghostly presence in the jungle.

Narrator (Voice Over):

“Watch The Lion King 3.

In theaters this summer.”

movie trailer script for content creators

It’s also possible to create a 60-second trailer which doesn’t use voiceover but instead relies on snippets from the movie itself and maybe some text on the screen:

Rafiki:

“You are king now Simba. You must take charge now.”

TEXT: Simba is now the king of the jungle. But along with this great responsibility comes great challenges.

Timon, Pumbaa:

“We’re with you Simba. Yeah, we’re with you.”

Scar (Off-Screen):

“I’m not with you Simba!”

Simba:

“Who said that?”

TEXT: Watch as Simba, together with his new friends, fulfills his destiny as the king of the jungle.

Animals:

“There’s something in the jungle. An evil presence.”

Animals: “Yeah, there’s something there!”

TEXT: The Lion King 3.

Montage: A succession of images of a ghostly Scar presence in the jungle and a final battle with Simba.

TEXT: This Summer.

Creating the Movie Trailer Script

Apart from movie trailer scripts, there are other types of trailer script which we may be interested in creating. Some similar trailer scripts could include video game trailers and TV show trailers, amongst many others. At the end of the day, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. A great movie trailer script must be turned into a great finished trailer ready for audiences. A good alternative to create movie trailer scripts as well as the finished product itself is an all-inclusive online provider like Bunny Studio.

Need the perfect script for your trailer? Submit a project with us and we’ll have it ready in no time!

  • This article was powered by Bunny Studio
  • and was written by Ignacio
  • If you want to hire this Bunny Pro, click here.
  • This article was powered by Bunny Studio
  • and was written by Ignacio
  • If you want to hire this Bunny Pro, click here.
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