Alternate Trailers


The trailer we've all seen (the one that is included on the DVD) for P3 is actually not the one that was originally planned. The original one apparently featured a few more shots of Heather O'Rourke and had her saying the catchphrase "Guess who's back in town...?"

After she died, the studio got nervous about using Heather's image in the marketing of the film and decided to remove these shots of Heather. In accordance with MPAA policy, the new trailer had to be submitted for approval. This was the one that audiences ending up seeing in theaters. There were also some TV spots which I remember seeing that were very similar to the theatrical trailer. Here's some correspondence I exchanged with the MPAA (emails listed in chronological order from the bottom up) regarding this issue.


Dear David ~
While we know that trailers were submitted, the dates of those submissions cannot be accessed. I am very sorry that I do not have the information you are seeking.
From: David
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 1:35 PM
To: Gordon, Marilyn
Subject: Re: Trailer Question
Hi Marilyn,
Thank you for your response. So even though your records do not indicate what was changed, am I correct in assuming that there were indeed two separate trailer submissions, one before her death (Feb 1, 1988) and one after? I guess all I needed were the dates of the submissions, or more accurately when the MPAA approved the advertising submissions, if such dates are available (if none of these dates are released to the public, I understand; I just wanted to check to be sure).
Dear Mr. Furtney:
Joan Graves forwarded to me your email regarding trailers for POLTERGEIST III, as I am head of the Advertising Administration, the MPAA department which reviews all advertising for rated films in advance of its release to the public.
While our records of 19 years ago do not contain a great deal of detail, I would like to explain MPAA policy relevant to your questions.
If a trailer is approved, and then is revised in any way, submission of the revised trailer is mandatory; it must be approved separately in accordance with the MPAA Advertising Administration Regulations. Our records do not indicate in what way, if any, trailers submitted before Heather's death were different from those that were submitted after her death.
I am sorry that we do not have more detail related to these trailers.
Marilyn Gordon
Senior Vice President,
Advertising Administration
Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.
Hi David,
I am forwarding your email to the Advertising Dept. . I don’t think that they make submittal records public, but they could probably advise you on policy.
From: David
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2007 11:48 PM
To: Graves, Joan
Subject: Trailer Question
Hi Joan,
I hope you're doing well. Last year you were very helpful to me regarding an article I wrote on the movie "Poltergeist III" (MGM, 1988) and its re-shot ending. It had originally been rated PG in November 1987, but after child star Heather O'Rourke died, the ending was re-shot and then the film was given a new rating of PG-13 in April 1988. The theatrical trailer of the film which was released to theaters had the "PG" rating on it, so I assume this trailer was circulating before April 1988. I came across this quote recently from an LA Times article, dated March 23rd 1988:
–Meanwhile, safe is better than sorry: Scrambling to regroup after O'Rourke's death, cautious studio executives trimmed a shot of the actress from their initial trailer. But they left in a voice-over in which she delivers the new kicker: "Guess who's back in town...?"
I was just wondering if the studio would have had to get the MPAA's permission to make this change to the film's trailer, and if so, would there be records of when this change took place? In other words, would the film's trailer have been submitted along with the film in November 1987, or could the studio have sent along the trailer sometime later? Heather passed away February 1, 1988. If you are able to access any records of dates of when the advertising materials were submitted (and then possibly re-submitted), I'd be very appreciative.
David Furtney