Each countries’ population have different things that may attract them to the cinema. By adjusting a trailer to match what people will appreciate will help maximise profits.
A good example might be an American sports movie that focused on basketball or baseball. A USA trailer might focus on the sport, but since those games aren’t well known in the UK, a UK trailer might focus on the struggle or the actors.
It’s important to remember that Hollywood doesn’t directly decide what goes into a trailer for each individual country. Rather each country has their own people (i.e. the distribution company) that will decide what will be most suitable in order to attract the maximum number of customers.
The biggest movie studios will have their own distribution channels in each country. For example, Disney is a distribution company for its own movies and they have people on the ground in the UK who will be responsible for deciding what should be used in the trailer.
For much smaller films, the film will usually be sold to a distribution company (e.g. the BFI, Curzon, Eros) and these companies will decide what goes into a trailer.
What I find interesting about this topic is how distributors sometime believe some very stereotypical things about their audiences. For example, back in 2011, 20th Century Fox released Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
While a great movie, what was interesting was how the American trailer and the British trailer differed from each other. Below is the American trailer:
As you can see it’s very anti-science and goes on to sort of have a “Man plays God” kind of feel. The music is dark and “evil.” It even has the classic British villain.
However, now watch the British trailer:
It has a far more “revolution” type of feel. Like slaves trying to fight against oppression. The music also gives a sense of hope. Interestingly, it’s also arguably far more respectful to the intelligence of its UK audience.
There’s a line in the US trailer where James Franco says “We call it a cure.”
But in the UK version the line is “We call it a cure to Alzheimer’s”
The erasing of that one word says so much. By getting rid of it in the US trailer, it helps reinforce the idea that these are evil scientists trying to play God for the pursuit of profit; and thus caters to that stereotype that Americans are crazy anti-science nut bags.
But for British audiences, hearing the cure is for Alzheimer’s helps us think positively about the scientists. We realise that these are good people merely trying to make the world a better place.
Amazing how different it can be, right?