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Hot on the Web

Finding movie trailers online

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on November 16, 2007
(Issue 2546, Music to Your Ears)

If you don't go to the movies a lot, you can miss out on the trailers for upcoming releases. Even the TV commercials rarely contain the full trailer – and while a trailer can be misleading (many a bad comedy has all the good parts pretty much contained in its trailer), it's still often a more useful way to determine if you want to see a film than just reading someone's review.

The sites

Apple's QuickTime site was one of the first places online to offer digital movie trailers, and remains one of the most complete. You will need, of course, the free QuickTime plugin to view the trailers – but it's easy to install and the picture and sound quality are outstanding (although the trailers can take a bit to download if you download the high quality). They also all come in the widescreen format.

Yahoo Movies also has trailers of most of the movies now out as well as those scheduled for release in the coming weeks. While the QuickTime site isn't organized particularly well (you scroll through miniature versions of the lobby posters for each film, although once you click on a picture the release date is listed), the Yahoo site is more organic, with current releases listed in their order of sales and upcoming movies listed by week.

In addition, Yahoo has more options – including actual scenes from many of the movies. Only a few minutes each, it's still something different than just the trailer.

I can't tell what format the movies play in, but in Firefox 2, they loaded up and played right in the browser, so whatever they're using worked jsut fine for me.

The Internet Movie Database is, like Yahoo, more organically organized than the QuickTime site – but it's less intuitive to find the trailers. You go to a movie's page, then click on the trailers link, then find the movie again, and then watch the trailer. Goofy, that.

The trailers are also preceded by a commercial you can't avoid (oh, wait, that's just like the theaters, isn't it?), and the picture quality is pretty poor, as well as the image size itself being small compared to QuickTime and Yahoo, and with no apparent way to increase it.

Microsoft's MSN movie page is presumably streaming the trailers in Windows Media format – but again, as with the others, it's embedded so seamlessly into the browser experience that it doesn't really matter (unless you have a Mac, and again, the WMF player is a free download).

As with IMDB, you get the size you're fed – and it's not very big, although the picture quality itself is very crisp and the audio has a theatrical stereo sound to it (at least on headphones).

In terms of organization, MSN is closer to Yahoo than any of the others.

YouTube has quite a few trailers – most of them seemingly authorized by the studios. And there is a film and animation section, although browsing it is pretty frustrating. You're better off just doing a search from the home page if you know what film's trailer you're looking for. is more of a collection of links than a collection of content – when you click on a trailer, you're simply sent to someplace else (Apple's QuickTime movies page in the case of "P2").

But it's easy to navigate, easy to browse upcoming releases by week, and easy to watch the trailers. When you get down to it, you don't really care whose server is feeding you the trailer, do you? Plus, there are more than links to trailers here – interviews with stars and directors, "making of" features and other online clips are all listed under a movie's main entry. is more gossipy than the other sites – sort of like an "Entertainment Tonight" online. But it's well-organized, easy to find stuff, and the trailers are right there on each movie's entry. They're not very big, but the quality seems good – although you're again stuck with ads you can't skip through before the trailer will begin. specializes in providing the basics on upcoming films – organized by week, each movie's entry also contains links to various other sites that host trailers. (And here's Apple's QuickTime once again!)

It's well laid out, easy to navigate, and easy to find what you're looking for.

IGN's movie page offers a different kind of choice when viewing a trailer – watch it embedded or download it; QuickTime or Windows Media. It's complete, well-designed and easy to use.