The Screen Junkies series Honest Trailers is often compared to the CinemaSins series "Everything Wrong With..." because they both rose to prominence at the same time, are published on the same platform and use similar brands of nerd-focused, often nitpicky humor. However, the series are produced by difference companies and there are also very clear stylistic differences between them. The goal of CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With series is to highlight movie moments that break the audience's willing suspension of disbelief, while the goal of Honest Trailers is to cut through marketing hype to accurately summarize a film's most notable features and the general movie-going experience. To achieve these different aims, CinemaSins reacts and observes, whereas Honest Trailers analyzes and interprets. Additionally, CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With videos are much longer than Honest Trailers, and the tone of CinemaSins' series is consistently harsher than the tone of the often affectionate Honest Trailers series.
Nonetheless, there are many other links between the two series: Screen Junkies and CinemaSins have collaborated on some projects and, in 2015, got into a dispute over a car-review video concept. This article discusses these various connections between the two YouTube channels.
SlashFilm suggested that Screen Junkies and CinemaSins were "usually considered rivals," however, the channels report they were "friendly" with each other in their early days. In 2014, Jeremy Scott of CinemaSins wrote "we're buddies with Screen Junkies and love their stuff, and have even collaborated several times. So we don't view them as competitors or anything, just other funny guys making videos in the same general space we do." CinemaSins has consistently had more subscribers than Screen Junkies.
Honest Trailers cameo Edit
In 2013, Jeremy Scott of CinemaSins made a cameo appearance in the Honest Trailer for Fast Five.
Series swap Edit
In September 2014, YouTube channels Screen Junkies and CinemaSins swapped series for one week. The Screen Junkies team wrote and produced an episode of "Everything Wrong With..." while CinemaSins wrote and produced an episode of "Honest Trailers." Both channels used The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as their subject matter.
Screen Junkies would later go onto produce their own version of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Honest Trailer. This means there are two Honest Trailers for the same movie on YouTube. Comparing the two videos succinctly illustrates the different approaches the two channels take:
- Screen Junkies' Honest Trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- CinemaSins' Honest Trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (SERIES SWAP)
For more information, see the main page for Screen Junkies's video Everything Wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 13 Minutes or Less
Movie Fights Edit
In May 2015, CinemaSins' Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson appeared on an episode of Screen Junkies Movie Fights. They competed as a team against Dan Murrell and Andy Signore of Screen Junkies, in an episode that was promoted as "CinemaSins vs Honest Trailers." The episode has been viewed over 1.2 million times, making it one of the highest-viewed episodes of Movie Fights ever. The episode was hosted by Kristian Harloff of Collider.
Prior to the episode's publication, Sequart wrote "it is not a surprise that many fans of Screen Junkies also love the channel CinemaSins" and noted that "the fans have been spamming Screen Junkies videos with cries for Jeremy and Chris to be featured on Movie Fights."
The episode included CinemaSins-themed debate topics like "Worst cinema sin" and "Most sinful movie." The CinemaSins team scored 5 points, while the Screen Junkies team scored 6 points and were declared the overall winners. Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson were both first-time fighters, while Dan Murrell and Andy Signore had both competed in multiple previous episodes.
A brief kerfuffle erupted between the two channels in October 2015, when Screen Junkies launched a new show called "The Review Crew" which featured hosts reviewing movies while driving in cars. CinemaSins' Jeremy Scott initially said the show was a rip-off of a CinemaSins show, but later apologized. Screen Junkies said they had never seen the CinemaSins series. In any case, the Screen Junkies video was strongly disliked, never continued to series, and was deleted long ago.
Both Honest Trailers and CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With series emerged through similar processes of experimentation with various failed video concepts. Screen Junkies tried out a range of content in its early days - as Screen Rant notes, "go back to the start of the channel [Screen Junkies] and you find a slew of playful movie-themed videos attempting to tap into the zeitgeist, with Honest Trailers emerging as a success almost by accident after a single video mocking the 3D re-release of The Phantom Menace." The first Honest Trailer reached around 500,000 views soon after its release - the channel capitalized on this success by expanding the concept into a series.
Likewise, as Chris Atkinson of CinemaSins explains "We’d experimented with a few different YouTube channels, mostly terrible, that dealt with movies and comedy, but we hadn’t really hit on anything that was working yet." Chris Atkinson and Jeremy Scott recognized that the concept of Everything Wrong With was working after the first Everything Wrong With video reached 250,000 views in its first week of release. They continued the series based on this success.
A new wave of online film criticism Edit
Screen Junkies Honest Trailers and CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With series are sometimes linked because of their similar style and approach to film criticism. Screen Rant observed that both series rose to prominence at a similar time (2012) and that they depended on one another for popularity: "despite being disconnected, in the early days they each elevated the other, creating this new brand of criticism infused with humor and a balance of traditional film theory observations and more nitpicky, nerd-focused ideas; the sort of things that movie fans would notice and mock incessantly yet never allowed to take away from the film." The site argues the two series together formed "a new wave of film criticism that moved beyond academic essays and even traditional reviews (written or video) into a sort of internet-defined form."
The Metropolist suggests that neither Honest Trailers and CinemaSins's Everything Wrong With evaluate films on their technical merits, but rather according to the feelings they evoke in viewers, and whether they feel "authentic," for example whether Prometheus feels "enough" like Aliens. In the same article, The Metropolist wrote that the rising popularity of series like Honest Trailers and Everything Wrong With reveals that "audiences feel more and more that critics make arguments from a position of in-authenticity.The threshold for what makes a good film isn’t just higher or lower, it’s judged on entirely different criteria. Whether a film is competently made or not, or whatever the intention behind a script is sort of irrelevant to modern audiences."
Fanboy and girl nitpicking Edit
In the book Christopher Nolan: A Critical Study of the Films, the author suggests both Honest Trailers and CinemaSins' display the same "obsession with nitpicking" and that this "plays into the same objectivity that drives the Internet’s fixation upon Rotten Tomato scores and star ratings.... Plot holes and nitpicks present the illusion of objectivity... Commentators want to believe that their favorite media is objectively good, that they are correct in their judgement and that everybody who disagrees is wrong – and can be shown to be wrong" (pp113-114).
3 Brothers Films argued both series are examples of "fanboy and girl criticism." The site wrote, "Honest Trailers, Cinema Sins, and the whole monstrous engine that is Red Letter Media are not examples of legitimate criticism, but of hypercritical nitpicking....Discussion of narrative coherence and editing continuity are legitimate topics to discuss about a movie, but they are not the entirety of expert film criticism. In fact, overly focusing on narrative can distract from what a film is truly doing, be if formally or thematically. Fanboy and girl film criticism never considers that a film might deliberately be incoherent or confound conventions."
With a slightly different take, Cinema Crespodsio argues that this modern, nitpicky style of film criticism extols cinematic realism. The site notes that every aspect of film-making has gradually become "more naturalistic, less stylized, more real," usually as a result of technological developments. In the same article, Cinema Crespodiso notes that audiences have gradually come to expect more realism in films: "as movies have evolved over the last 120 years or so, audiences’ tastes and expectations have changed along with the times. As filmmakers got better at actually capturing the world around them and presenting it to people on a giant screen, those same people expected more from their filmmakers."
Release schedule Edit
Honest Trailers and CinemaSins often release videos roasting the same movie on the same day. Some commenters insist the companies must be coordinating with each other, however, this is untrue. Rather, both companies release videos to coincide with a film's release on digital/Blu-ray or a related film's theatrical release. That is, both companies use trend surfing to maximize views. Many other YouTube channels including How It Should Have Ended (HISHE) also use trend surfing as a business strategy.
The Dissolve criticized both Honest Trailers and CinemaSins for making videos based on what will get them the most clicks. The Dissolve argues this choice of subject matter is what results in the prevalence of nitpicking in both series: "The subjects aren’t the most suitable ones, they’re the ones that are the most traffic-friendly. From a business perspective, that’s perfectly understandable... Of course these people should theoretically do whatever they can to grow their viewership and increase their ad revenue. But from a creative perspective, it’s a double standard. If Hollywood filmmakers did something purely for financial reasons—because they knew it would bring the most people to the theater or sell a few more action figures or T-shirts—these shows would make fun of them for it, and rightfully so."
Corporate structure Edit
Screen Junkies is - and always has been - a much more corporate channel compared to CinemaSins. Screen Rant highlighted the two channels' very different origins: "Sins is the product of friends chasing a single idea, Screen Junkies is a subsidiary of Defy Media that set out to explicitly build its brand....SJ has since evolved into a massive network with multiple shows, a second news channel (formerly Clevver Movies) and a paid subscription service, as well as fan meetups and SDCC events, Sins remains at its core the same thing; they actually have more subscribers, but that only highlights the different types of success the pair get."
For example, when Everything Wrong With became a viral success, CinemaSins hadn't even formed itself into an LLC. In 2014, Jeremy Scott said "We're hopelessly unprofessional and not prepared and all that stuff.... I'm happy to be making so much money I don't know how to do my taxes right." By comparison, all the revenue generated by Honest Trailers goes to the company -- the writers/producers are paid salaries. Furthermore, Screen Junkies the company owns the rights to the Honest Trailers concept; the creators don't own the concept. This means that when the co-creators left the company (at different times, under very different circumstances), the company continued making Honest Trailers without them. The creators don't earn royalties from Honest Trailers.
Screen Junkies' corporate nature affects Honest Trailers in many other ways. For example, their Los Angeles-based location gives them access to more special guests, including Hollywood filmmakers and other L.A.-based YouTubers. On the other hand, Screen Junkies' company structure includes higher-ups who have control over the subject matter for Honest Trailers. However, the writers are given more creative freedom for one out of every four Honest Trailers.
Everything Wrong With and Honest Trailers differ greatly in terms of production scale. Though Honest Trailers videos are shorter and more infrequent, more people are involved in their production. CinemaSins produces two 20 minute Everything Wrong With videos per week, while Screen Junkies only produces one 5 minute Honest Trailer per week. Everything Wrong With has two credited writers: Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson, who have been writing and producing the series from its inception. In contrast, most episodes of Honest Trailers have four credited writers, with some episodes having up to six writers. Dozens of writers have contributed to Honest Trailers over the years; none of the original writers are still involved with the series.
The series also differ in their scale of post-production: Everything Wrong With videos are assembled by one editor, while Honest Trailers have up to three. Everything Wrong With is narrated by writer Jeremy Scott, whereas Honest Trailers is narrated by a professional voice artist, Jon Bailey. Likewise, CinemaSins' text is done in-house, while Screen Junkies employs UK-based professional motion graphics artist Robert Holtby to create all their titles.
Another clear difference between the two series is length. Honest Trailers are usually 3-7 minutes in length, with the longest Honest Trailer ever clocking in at 10 minutes. In contrast, many CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With videos exceed 20 minutes. The Playlist argues that CinemaSins "travels down a similar path as Honest Trailers, but to far less amusing effect, and they let the “joke” play out far too long. Where Honest Trailers gets in and out in 4 to 7 minutes maximum, CinemaSins routinely spends 15 to 20 minutes pointing out every little “flaw” in the movie under their microscope." Screen Rant noted that CinemaSins videos were originally much shorter - and were lighter, funner and, in their opinion, better because of it.
It should be noted that the reason why CinemaSins started producing longer videos was because the YouTube algorithm started to reward watch time. Many YouTube channels, including Screen Junkies, also started producing longer content to take advantage of the YouTube algorithm. However, because Screen Junkies were a subsidiary of a much larger company, they had access to the resources necessary to create an entirely new long form series, instead of elongating an existing show.
CinemaSins's Everything Wrong With series and Honest Trailers try to accomplish different things. While the Honest Trailers series has many purposes, one key purpose has always been as an antidote to over-hyped film marketing. Dread Central explains, "How many times have moviegoers felt misled by a promo that promises boatloads of excitement for a film that turns out to be extremely lackluster?" Gizmodo concurs, noting that Honest Trailers "cut through all the bullshit from every Hollywood blockbuster there is." To achieve this purpose, Honest Trailers are essentially film reviews. The Honest Trailers treatment "involves criticizing a single movie with the same approach that you might see in a text review in a newspaper or magazine" (quote from Art + Marketing), albeit with a more informal and comedic slant. Furthermore, Honest Trailers frequently put movies in content by referring to a film's promotional material (including trailers, posters, interviews, etc), audience expectations, the film-makers' reputations or past work, the legacy of other films in the same franchise or genre, the film studio's business concerns (especially product placement and setting up sequels), and the changing cultural context surrounding a film. (As an example, see the Honest Trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2).
In contrast, the purpose of CinemaSins is to highlight moments that break verisimilitude, that is, any movie moments that don't feel realistic within the context of the film. Verisimilitude is important because "If the audience feels confident in the facts and reality of the film world, then they can suspend their disbelief, accept what they’re seeing, and become immersed in the story and world the filmmaker is crafting" (from Gorilla Film Online). The Daily Beast wrote CinemaSins' goal is "to explore the cracks between a film’s expectation of disbelief against an audience’s ability to maintain that suspension." Suspension of disbelief can be broken by continuity errors, mistakes, inconsistencies, plot holes, coincidences, implausibilities, overuse of cliches, unconvincing acting, or simply things that the viewer "doesn't buy." Basically, anything that pulls the viewer out of the story. These are all things CinemaSins hones in on. The Daily Beast also observed:
That audiences willingly engage in some level of disbelief suspension is a cinematic given. The detail required to tell even simple stories quickly spirals out of control if every actionable element is presented by the camera. Given the time compression necessary to tell complex stories in under two hours, many theatergoers are more than happy to indulge a film that ellipses redundant or uninteresting story elements. (Goldstein, R. April 3, 2014, The Witty Genius of YouTube’s CinemaSins: Everything Wrong with Your Favorite Movie, The Daily Beast)
Regarding the audience's willing suspension of disbelief, Jeremy Scott of CinemaSins said:
A bad movie is made when filmmakers think the audience is stupid. They ask the audience to swallow everything they present and hide behind, “It’s just a movie, so just accept it.” Because the suspension of disbelief is forfeited in those cases, we start to have fun with a bad movie’s “to hell with it all” spirit. When you know a certain scene is bad, you may not quite be able to explain why it’s bad, but when you dissect it, when you watch it over and over, you can often see where the filmmakers had lapses in reason.(Berkowitz, J. July 19, 2013, Fast Company)
Critical reception Edit
While many viewers are fans of both series, CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With has attracted significantly more criticism in comparison to Honest Trailers. Several of CinemaSins' detractors are Hollywood directors, including Damon Lindelof, Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Rian Johnson. Furthermore, there are multiple articles and video essays dedicated to criticizing CinemaSins, for example, Screen Rant's Is Cinema Sins Bad For Film Criticism?, bobvid's Sustaining Stupidity - Why CinemaSins is Terrible, Shaun's Everything Wrong With CinemaSins series, Patrick Willems' Shut Up About Plot Holes, Jay Exci's CinemaSins Finally Responds to Criticism (by ignoring it), and others.
This is not to say that the Honest Trailers series is without its critics; nonetheless, the general reception of the series is much more positive. Screen Rant has highlighted the awards nominations and critical acclaim that the Honest Trailers series has received, noting that Honest Trailers "has also gained legitimate acclaim - with Honest Trailers even being nominated for an Emmy this year. So while the series rarely fails to bring the laughs, it seems that the Honest Trailers' trademark brand of satire actually has depth underneath all of its humor." Similarly, Deadline suggested that said Honest Trailers' success "can be measured in terms of growing recognition of the series by major industry players—and the participation of these artists in its creation." This refers to directors such as the Russo Brothers discussing the Honest Trailers series and striving to make their movies "Honest Trailers-proof," and also the participation of Hollywood filmmakers in the series, including actor Ryan Reynolds, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and even singer Michael Bolton.
In a 2018 article, SlashFilm emphatically distinguished between the two series. The site wrote, "While we’re supremely against all the nonsense that CinemaSins puts forth in their recurring video series, we appreciate what the folks at Screen Junkies put forth every week with their Honest Trailers. At the very least, they’re clever in their humorous observations about critiques, plot holes and we love the new title they give to all their targets."
For their part, the Honest Trailers writers have never disparaged CinemaSins' approach, rather, they simply propose that the two series are trying to accomplish different things. Furthermore, although Everything Wrong With has never been nominated for any awards, the series has received many positive write-ups, especially in its early days. As an example, in April 2014, The Daily Beast wrote that CinemaSins' videos displayed "witty genius" and their "criticism is real and valid, but the sins exist on a spectrum between the technically critical and the theatrically hilarious."
Level of analysis Edit
While both CinemaSins and Honest Trailers employ a nitpicky, nerd-focused approach to film criticism, there is nonetheless a clear differences in their styles of commentary. Screen Rant wrote that CinemaSins videos are primarily about reacting to and making observations about films: "There's no analysis - the best we get is an interesting comment that reduces the Sin count - and so by itself never goes beyond basic, often empty observations." In contrast, Screen Rant points out that Honest Trailers focus more on "satiric critical analysis" and providing "keen insights." In addition, many sites have noted that Honest Trailers use humorous interpretation, for examples, see CinemaBlend's review of the Toy Story Honest Trailer, and The Daily Dot's review of the Jupiter Ascending Honest Trailer.
Screen Rant observes that the "empty observations" of CinemaSins are not inherent to the series' format - the site notes that the different YouTube channel Cinema Wins utilizes a similar format, but they "tie everything together in an eloquent, measured conclusion. It's a positive spin on the typical internet discussion and shows how the format can be used to make real statements - it just needs that ability to tie it all together with an understanding of what each minor point represents." By comparison, Honest Trailers is frequently praised for humorously presenting insightful conclusions about the cultural significance of films, our relationship to films, and nostalgia (see Critical Reception of the Honest Trailers Series for examples).
Mistakes: Accuracy vs. Humor Edit
CinemaSins and Honest Trailers differ in how much they value accuracy. CinemaSins is often criticized for making copious mistakes. As The Playlist writes, CinemaSins' approach "often finds them fundamentally misunderstanding the film they’re watching." The Mary Sue concurred with this sentiment, arguing that CinemaSins' videos involve "willful misunderstanding." The CinemaSins writers claim they frequently include "intentionally ignorant criticisms" and make factual errors on purpose in order to add humor. Chris Atkinson explains: "As for us being wrong on sins. At least 50% of the time, we did it on purpose....But a lot of the mistakes we make are intentional. We're playing a character. A know-it-all movie-obsessed nitpicking asshole. If you know anyone like this in life, you know they are sometimes wrong about the things they're angry about."
In contrast, Honest Trailers prioritizes accuracy. As Fast Company writes, "As a brand, Honest Trailers is not just about slinging snark for the sake of driving traffic...every criticism that’s lobbed is laboriously debated for its credibility and fairness, so that stings never feel gratuitous; they simply feel true." Honest Trailers writer Joe Starr explained the motto of Honest Trailers is "Honest first, then funny." In a similar vein, Honest Trailers writer Dan Murrell declared, "We pay enough for our legitimate mistakes that we’re beyond making ones on purpose for humor purposes."
Honest Trailers has never been a series that shits on everything. Like, if a movie’s mediocre, we’ll say it’s mediocre; if it’s good, we’ll say it’s good and have some fun with it; but if it’s bad, we’ll certainly say it’s bad. ~ Dan Murrell
The tone of Everything Wrong With series and Honest Trailers series is often very different. Everything Wrong With is, as the name suggests, consistently negative about all films. On the contrary, Honest Trailers, also as the name suggests, strives to be honest. When movies are legitimately good, Honest Trailers openly praises them, often lavishly. As an example, see the Honest Trailer for Die Hard. Matt Conway of Screen Geek argued that, in general, Honest Trailers "typically approach their subject matter in a less-cynical manner than other channels like CinemaSins."
Joe Berkowitz of Fast Company noted that CinemaSins' consistently negative tone provides catharsis: "Watching a Cinema Sins takedown of a movie you didn’t enjoy provides some hyper-articulate validation of your disdain." In contrast, the more varied tone of Honest Trailers is sometimes cathartic, but sometimes celebratory: for example, Aly Semigran of Bustle suggested that an Honest Trailer for a terrible film such as Green Lantern "allows people who spent their hard-earned money to see this movie to feel vindicated for their hatred of it," whereas Tor.com wrote that Honest Trailers' affectionate take-down of Star Trek: The Next Generation "only makes us love it more."
Point of View: Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Kong: Skull Island Edit
In 2017, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of Kong: Skull Island, criticized CinemaSins videos and contrasted their approach with that of Honest Trailers. Vogt-Roberts' chief complaints were that CinemaSins' comments are consistently mean-spirited, they lack a clear point of view, and the series should not be considered satire. In Vogt-Roberts' opinion, for a series to qualify as satire, it needs to possess a clear point of view and humorous tone. Vogt-Roberts tweeted: "Try and find me a cinema sins "joke" that's not mean spirited towards the movie or the people who made it. Once again that is not satire." He also tweeted, "Compare them to honest trailers (which like it or not) has a point of view & tone) They are going for jokesyou can say "that's funny" or not." In another tweet, Vogt-Roberts wrote, "Honest Trailers can be satire. They actually write and perform jokes with a point of view with sense of humor unique to that brand" and added "Cinema Sins is not satire no matter how many times you say it out loud. Keep saying it, but it will never become more true."
Around the time of his Twitter rant against CinemaSins, Vogt-Roberts appeared in Screen Junkies' Honest Trailer for Kong: Skull Island. The Mary Sue wrote that Vogt-Roberts' appearance "demonstrates that Vogt-Roberts’ beef with CinemaSins isn’t just a gut-reaction to any criticism but rather a comment on lazy and bad film criticism that neither inspires nor teaches. He can handle the jokes and burns, but try and do your homework beforehand."
In the Honest Trailer Commentary for Kong: Skull Island, the Honest Trailers writers made it very clear that they weren't trying to fan the flames of Vogt-Roberts' quarrel with CinemaSins. Andy Signore said, "We are not here to knock on CinemaSins or do any of that stuff. He [Vogt-Roberts] seems to want to but that's on him.... I do not want this to be, "This is why CinemaSins sucks," because if you feel that way, that's your own thing, but that's not what we're here to do." Signore also said, "For those of you that think we were calling shade at CinemaSins, we were not."
List of references Edit
- ↑ According to the IMDb page about Everything Wrong With series. However, a lot of information is missing from IMDb. Unlike Screen Junkies, CinemaSins don't publish detailed production credits in the description of individual YouTube videos.
- ↑ In 2018, the Honest Trailers post-production team consisted of editors Kevin Williamsen and TJ Nordaker, and assistant editor Emin Bassavand.
- ↑ Paulson, Dave (29 October 2015). "Nashville's CinemaSins a YouTube hit". tennessean.com.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Agar, Chris (15 August 2017). "Kong: Skull Island Director Tears Into CinemaSins". screenrant.com.
- ↑ Dan Murrell says this at 25:02 in the Honest Trailer Commentary for Rocky IV
- ↑ Dan Murrell says this at 33:54 in the Honest Trailer Commentary for Kong: Skull Island
See also Edit
- Critical reception of the Honest Trailers series
- Everything Wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 13 Minutes or Less
- Honest Trailers - Kong: Skull Island
- Honest Trailers - The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Honest Trailers - Fast Five