While China continues to ban movies, things are looking up here in the States. In a move that will allow movie studios to inject racy jokes into the trailers they use to promote their more adult-oriented films, Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest theater chain, has decided to permit restricted, “red band” trailers in its multiplexes. One of the biggest fears of making a horror film is that the marketing ability is limited on all R-rated films. This is huge as it gives a little breathing room to studio execs who can now have faith that their R-rated genre fairs will get more exposure. Read on for the full story.
As an industry leader that operates 6,388 screens in 39 states and the District of Columbia, Regal’s policy change likely will lead to similar decisions at a number of the nation’s other major chains.
As last week’s ShoWest convention in Las Vegas drew to a close, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based circuit began notifying the studios of its decision, which was received enthusiastically by distributors who have had to promote such R-rated comedies as “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” with sanitized, green band trailers tailored for general audiences.
“This is going to be hugely helpful for us when we want to give targeted moviegoers a true sense of the kind of movies we are offering,” said Adam Fogelson, Universal president of marketing and distribution. “I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to the people at Regal for continuing the dialogue that has led to this decision.”
The MPAA’s Advertising Administration, which oversees the advertising materials used by its member studios, approves two types of trailers for use in the theaters. So-called green band trailers — also known as green-tag trailers — open with a green advisory card that reads “the following preview has been approved for all audiences.” Red band trailers, which only can appear before R-rated, NC-17-rated or unrated movies, warn that “the following preview has been approved for restricted audiences only.”
Studios once used red band trailers routinely, but theaters dropped them like hot potatoes after a 2000 Federal Trade Commission report criticizing the entertainment industry for marketing violent entertainment to children.
Exhibitors cut back on red band trailers out of fear of offending patrons and also out of a concern that in handling the dozen or so films screening in a modern multiplex, a red band trailer could be attached inadvertently to a G or PG movie.
The second problem should be eliminated, though, when theaters fully convert to digital, which will allow theater operators greater control and flexibility over the materials screening in each of their auditoriums.
“We had intended when we went to digital to begin to review trailers on a case-by-case basis, but we’ve decided to jump ahead of that,” Regal senior vp marketing and advertising Dick Westerling said.
He explained that the circuit’s executives were sympathetic to the studios’ arguments last summer when Sony said it would have liked to screen a red band trailer for “Superbad” in front of Uni’s “Knocked Up.” In recent months, Regal quietly has experimented with screening red band trailers at its Regal Cinema Art Theaters that show indie and specialty movies.