The object of this thesis is to start mapping out the phenomena of American film trailers. It is looking at several aspects of the trailers; their history, how they are produced, their function as marketing tools, how they can be cross-cultural or fitted to different cultures, but the main emphasis of the thesis is on an exploration of their textual characteristics. The approach is based on a close textual analysis of the international version of the LA Confidential (1997) trailer, drawing upon the methodology introduced by Roland Barthes in S/Z (1996/1970). The purpose of this methodology is to locate and characterise different codes that are drawn upon when reading a trailer. Questions raised by this analysis pertaining to the use of male voice-over, use of clichés, style of editing, intertextuality, the role of stars, issues of viewing, use of dialogue, formation of narrative, use of music, sex and violence, the importance of creating an enigma e.g. - are discussed, not only as they are found in this particular trailer, but also more generally. To do this, a number of other trailers that exemplify similar or different techniques are drawn upon. The thesis also provides a comparison between the trailer version analysed and two different versions, one for the American home market and one for the French market, exploring differences related to cultural codes and cross-cultural marketing environments.