Consider your audience
The game should be challenging for your players, but don’t make it impossible. Keep your audience in mind when writing your show.
For example, if your venue is a sports bar with a blue collar crowd, don’t ask about obscure French cinema. Instead, aim for more popular and contemporary films.
You don’t have to make each round a softball but try to stick to movies that most of the players have heard of. This will keep the game fun and the crowd engaged.
Switch it up
Make sure that your movie trivia questions come from a variety of genres and time periods. In other words, if all the films you ask about are romantic comedies, your players will notice.
If your show has several film questions, it’s especially important to diversify the subject matter. That includes genre as well as actors. Unless you’re writing a Brad Pitt themed show or round, don’t include questions about Fight Club, Seven, and Oceans Eleven on the same night.
Add a fun twist
Sometimes teams appreciate a straightforward round. For example, “What is the name of the rival gang of the Sharks in West Side Story?” will get a good reaction from the crowd. (P.S. the answer is the Jets.)
Questions from this category also allow for another layer of creativity and engagement. One way to do this is with an actor link.
For example, “Name the actor or actress who appears in each of the following films: The Aviator, Pearl Harbor, and Serendipity.” Some players may have seen one or two of these. But the hope is that their combined knowledge will lead to the answer: Kate Beckinsale.
This approach takes teamwork and invokes the social aspect of the game. It’s a great way to set your show apart from other Trivia Nights in town.
Use context clues
Context clues will plus up any game and there are plenty of ways to use them in your questions.
Take this example, “Surpassing Gone With The Wind as the highest grossing box office movie, what 1965 American musical drama saved 20th Century Fox after the financial failure of Cleopatra?”
The question is complete without the box office earnings fact at the beginning. But adding this information serves several purposes. First, it makes the round more interesting. Second, it can help teams reason their way to the correct answer, even if they didn’t know it right away.
The best Trivia Nights use context clues to encourage discussion and brainstorming.
Make theme shows harder
The above tips work when writing movie trivia questions for general knowledge games. But theme shows need a different approach.
Theme night crowds include super fans of the topic. So, if you plan on hosting a Star Wars themed trivia, high level information won’t cut it.
Let’s use a few Disney examples to illustrate which type of questions work for general knowledge versus theme shows.
First, “Gus the mouse is a character in what Disney movie?” This is a good option for a general knowledge game. Gus is one of the main characters in Cinderella, so it’s likely that many teams could answer this. But for a Disney themed game, this would be way too easy.
It’s best to give theme show players a challenge. You can do this by asking about obscure characters, films, and details. For example, “Fauntleroy is the middle name of what classic Disney character?” This isn’t something that the average player would know so it is too niche for most general knowledge games. But an avid Disney fan could tell you that the answer is Donald Duck. Which makes it a great option for a Disney theme night.
Critics give these questions 5 stars
Now that we’ve gone over the details, let’s review a few more examples and see what makes them great.
Q: What 1975 Steven Spielberg film held the all-time box office record until Star Wars came along? A: Jaws
This is a fun question because it encourages discussion amongst the teams. Steven Spielberg is a well-known director, so players can easily start listing off his films. And the 1975 date gives them a time frame to work with. Teams can “eliminate” high-grossing options such as Jurrasic Park and Back to the Future, since those were released later. Teams that don’t know the answer can make an educated guess which keeps them engaged and excited.
Q: Before playing a cheerleading coach on Glee, Jane Lynch played the manager of Smart Tech in what comedy film? A: 40-Year Old Virgin
Here is a context clue in action. The “before playing a cheerleading coach on Glee” detail doesn’t contribute directly to the answer. But, this can help players in several ways. First, it lists another role which the actress played. They may not know Jane Lynch by name, but if they’ve seen Glee, now they know who the question is about. Second, it gives a timeline. Glee began its run in 2009, so films released after then can be eliminated.
Q: What 2005 thriller includes the quote, “Beneath this mask there is more than just flesh, beneath this mask is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof”? A: V for Vendetta
Quotes are another way to spark team discussion. The example above works well because it’s the central theme of the movie. It’s not a quote that you hear often, like “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” But it’s not an obscure reference, given the underlying message of the story. This is a way to balance the difficulty level and start a debate amongst the players.