"My name is Justin. This is how I drum."
Thus begins the trailer for "Never Say Never," Justin Bieber's 3-D concert documentary. That first clip isn't the only footage of the 16-year-old pop star back in his formative years. From vintage looks at Biebs tickling the ivories to grainy video of him strumming the guitar on some steps, the trailer tells the unlikely story of how a small-town Canadian kid beat the odds to become an international superstar.
It's an interesting narrative technique, one with both points of convergence to, and deviation from, previous concert doc trailers. As we gear up for the film's Valentine's Day release, it's time to size up the "Never Say Never" trailer in the context of what's come before it.
"Michael Jackson's This Is It"
At least in terms of its box-office draw, MJ's posthumous, $261 million-grossing flick is the concert doc against which all others must be measured. The trailers for "This Is It" and "Never Say Never" both feature some epic zooming title cards, lots of acrobatic dancers, crews saying nice things about the stars and an emphasis on attaining your dreams.
Yet, seeing as how MJ passed away last summer and Bieber's just getting started, the two trailers take markedly different approaches to telling the stories of those dreams. MJ's trailer feels like a look back at the final act in an iconic, if controversial, superstar's life. Bieber's trailer is more about establishing a young star's legacy.
"Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert"
Cyrus' approach to her trailer couldn't be more different than Bieber's. The Disney star starts off talking directly to the camera, hyping the upcoming movie and highlighting the presence of the Jonas Brothers. It's a much more in-your-face marketing approach, and one that feels dated just a few years later. Still, Bieber probably wouldn't complain about equaling Cyrus' $30 million opening weekend.
"Madonna: Truth or Dare
OK, you know what's even further away from Bieber's trailer in tone and content than Cyrus'? Madonna's! She wonders if a guy she likes just wants to sleep with her and if she'll be able to pull off an in-concert masturbation scene. And then there's the whole cone-bra bustier thing. There is, however, at least one point of similarity: the Queen of Pop's opening lines, when she talks about being in the spotlight, being worshiped by fans, and having lots and lots of money. Sounds a lot like Bieber's life at the moment, no?
"Shine a Light"
While "Shine a Light" is a documentary about a Rolling Stones concert, director Martin Scorsese plays almost as big a role in the trailer as Mick Jagger. "Never Say Never" helmer Jon Chu, alas, is never seen in Bieber's trailer. That's probably for the best. But like the "Never Say Never" trailer, "Shine a Light" employs the use of archival footage to put the current-day concert in context and showcases the artists doing what they do best: rocking out.
"Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience"
Screaming fans? Check. Massive stage productions? Check. Behind-the-scenes peeks at your idols? Check. There's even Joe Jonas tooling around on a Segway, just like Bieber. Yep, of all the concert movie trailers we surveyed, the JoBros' is the most similar to "Never Say Never." Let's just hope Bieber's movie does a little better at the box office. The brothers' 3-D flick made a paltry $19 million domestically.
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