The late Oscar’s night show with… MindProber

admin | March 4, 2018

Oscar’s night is here, and while Hollywood is focused on the best film, the best actress, and actor, the best soundtrack winners, we at MindProber, show you a glimpse of the role emotional timelines play when building Oscar-favourite trailers. Impactful and highly performing trailers are usually a good predictor of box-office success, and the emotional framing of the audience is critical to the ticket-buying decision.  

Trailers play a critical role in alluring moviegoers, so it’ important that they are well tested to ensure they deliver the impact and engagement that can be translated to ticket sales and, also, awards. Bets aside, we have some interesting data to show you about one of the contenders – The Shape of Water.

The narrative of this film is by itself incredibly powerful – in addition to the dense and complex characters representing marginalized groups, Guillermo del Toro combines fantasy with social critique in a masterful way. Ingredients that make this film one of the favorites,  not only for best film but also for best soundtrack awards. So let’s take a look at the emotional timeline of its trailer.

1. The start of the trailer leads us to an initial peak of arousal. Usually this is a result of expectation and strong visual load, but in this case, it’s the start of the first song that gives us that first arousal peak, reflecting that people were more immediately emotionally involved at this stage of the narrative and are expectant regarding the unfolding of the story;

2. The music in this trailer is undoubtedly one of its strong points, dancing perfectly with the fantastic, poetic and dramatic narrative. Emotional arousal peaks are expected throughout the trailer as they tend to elicit spikes of attention and emotion on the viewers. With the “Shape of the Water” trailer we see that those peaks are related to the increase in musical intensity, as is the case of the second arousal peaks that culminates with the first time we see the “monster”;

3. Finally, the third peak occurs at an interesting moment – a downward trend on emotional arousal. While we do expect the climax of the story to be a strong point for emotional timeline analysis, we have to consider that continuous arousal is taxing on the viewer and people tend to naturally drift off. A decrease in arousal state is not indicative of lack of interest as we can see on our behavioral analysis. While they were less aroused during this part of the trailer, viewers were more engaged providing the largest density of responses (and mostly positive) when compared to the rest of it;

4. Nonetheless, the trailer is able to engage the audience which is clear with the appearance of the peak – but we have other tools for such moments. If we look at the variance of emotional activation of viewers during that moment, it decreases significantly. Meaning? The audience was sharing similar patterns of emotional activation;

5. And what better way to finish strong and regain peak engagement than having Elisa standing up to a raging Michael Stuhlbarg (we are trying to keep the language PG-13)?


An overall view of the effective space shows a good summary: viewers were engaged to the content, feeling mostly excited, with moments of relaxedness, and expressing positive behavior during the visualization.

The bets are on, all the other contenders also had great trailers and the awards take into account all movie, but Guillerme del Toro showed you to get our attention with his results and the uniqueness and powerfulness of his trailer. See you tonight!



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