Are Theater Owners Fighting For A Better Experience?


Now that I’m freezing chilling in Chicago, I don’t get to enjoy the benefits of press screenings as often. You’ll see press bitching and moaning on Twitter, but they have no idea how lucky they are – there are no commercials, no trailers, no talking, no cellphone lights or conversations, not to mention that it’s free. Being back in my old hood for the better half of 2013 grounded me in the reality of just how awful the average theatergoing experience is; it’s so terrible that I go to the first showing on Friday mornings to avoid the coast/crowd/average bullshit that comes with seeing movies these days. Here on Bloody I’ve been a huge advocate for change, especially after my bout with Arclight theaters in Los Angeles. It’s on the theaters to make changes, not studios, which is why I’m excited to share this bit of news with you (even if it’s only a baby step in the right direction).

THR reports that the National Association of Theater Owners has released voluntary guidelines calling for movie trailers to be no longer than two minutes — 30 seconds shorter than is the norm, further adding that they don’t want trailers for movies more than five months of its release. Nor can marketing materials be displayed inside of a theater for a film more than four months away from release.

Distributors will be given two exemptions a year on both trailer length and marketing lead time.

The guidelines won’t take effect until Oct. 1.

NATO’s executive board came up with the new scheme in an effort to give exhibitors more control over how Hollywood movies are marketed inside of their cinemas. Theater owners, who feel the brunt of complaints from the public, believe trailers are often too long and can give away too much of the plot.

NATO has spent months working on the guidelines, including speaking with each of the studios. The trade organization said the proposals were significantly altered as a result of those discussions.

Hollywood studios, which rely heavily on trailers to woo moviegoers, have generally refuted the notion that 2.5 minutes is too long. Together, television advertising and in-theater trailers are considered the most potent weapons in marketing a movie, even as the Internet has made trailers ubiquitous.

Although the guidelines would be voluntary, studios fear that an exhibitor could cite the new policy in refusing to play a trailer that is longer than two minutes. They also worry that some theater owners will respond to the shorter time by simply running more trailers, many of which studios pay exhibitors to play.

This is not enough of a call to action as I wished, although we have to start with baby steps. Even with shorter trailers, the theaters will still harass us with more than a dozen – so does the length of each trailer even matter?

Hopefully this opens the door for serious debate of further changes…

  • huntermc

    Trailer length would not even be in my top ten complaints about seeing movies in the theater. Other than high ticket prices, all of my other complaints have to do with my fellow theater goers.

  • djblack1313

    it’s not the length time of the trailers that’s the problem it’s the AMOUNT of trailers coupled with the fact that too many of them spoil the movie or show most if not all of the money shots in the film. some movies i’ve gone to i had to sit through 5-8(!!!) trailers (most spoilery). and i’d gladly sit through all those trailers over the fucking product commercials for sodas, cars, cell phones, etc, etc!!!!

    so people who buy their tickets ($20 in some places) also are paying to watch tv commercials and it’s acceptable?!! fuck that.

    • Bryno

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I hate commercials and avoid them as much as possible. I don’t watch t.v, I use Netflix or download. It’s complete bullshit to pay good money for something then be forced to watch a commercial(s). You really have no choice, either watch it or leave the theatre. I’ve got a projector at home and have few good reasons to go to a theatre any more. There isn’t much of an incentive.

  • doomas10

    To be honest with you, here in the UK we only get two or three trailers maximum! But what we do get is tones and tones of advertisements for Tesco, phones, protected sex(!), banks, cars, countries for vacations and phone/internet companies. Then we see the trailers and this is a total of 20-25! minutes!

  • bambi_lives8980

    Kind of along the lines of what huntermc said, this is hardly an issue that concerns me when I’m seeing a film at the theater. If anyone thinks they have problems seeing a movie in the theater I dare them to come see one in Louisiana. Its nothing but morons talking the whole time, talking to friends that are 3-4 seats away, texting, or repeating the lines to people who were too busy talking or texting to pay attention, but then turn around and ask their buds “What did he say?/They did whuutt?”. Oh, and trying to see a horror movie where I live? Forget it, its useless unless you can go on a Sunday morning with no one else there. At least the theaters have been good enough to get police officers to stand around outside, because I have no problem going to them and having someone kicked out. I don’t mind previews, however I mind paying too much for a ticket only to have the lowest common denominator of intelligent people act like they’re the only people in the theater.

  • Neilg888

    I am an avid movie goer who has significantly cut my theater time down in the last few years. It takes a special movie event to get me back into the theaters – a good franchise movie, or trusted director, or Oscar material, (or my wife begs me). Knowing I will see the trailers online and on TV, I could care less how many trailers I see. I actually prefer seeing them on the big screen. I do care about content, however. I too don’t want the whole movie spilled out in front of me. I look forward to the occasional artsy trailer that leaves me guessing. I don’t think this will ever change though. Hollywood needs to make money and to do so they need to show their money shots. It just so happens, it’s the best shot in the movie, but it pays.

    I mostly stopped going because of high ticket prices mixed with idiots in the theater. Why should I pay $15-$20 for a movie experience that I can have at home with no intrusion from a disruptive audience? Thank goodness for our 21+ theater in central Cali where the people have a little more respect than the average movie goer. I am happy to pay the little bit extra to sit in there away from the obnoxious types. Viva la cinema revolution!

  • chambertlo

    Are you fucking kidding me? Trailer length? Duration of a promotional poster? Who gives a flying fuck about this when the real problem is with the insufferable crowds that permeate even the most adult oriented movies? I used to be an avid film-goer, 2-3 times a week, and after my horrible experiences with both “The Conjuring” and “The Purge”, where the majority of the audience was talking, laughing and acting like complete porch-monkeys, I have reduced my visits to the cinema to IMAX 3D movies. It has become so bad that I don’t even want to see those movies, since most people feel the need to text, talk, or otherwise ruin the experience for everyone around them. The real problem isn’t with movie trailers and promotional posters. Theaters need to have more stringent guidelines as to what constitutes acceptable behavior in a public setting. People who text or talk during a movie need to be ejected, with no refund, and those that ruin the film for others should be banned form the establishment. When this becomes fact, only then will I return to the movies like I once did.

  • Samhain2010

    There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING more annoying than the ads for other products. We are paying $10 of our hard earned money to see a movie and we have to sit through fucking commercials! Get rid of that and you’ll cut out a whole 5 minutes of useless crap. I am aware that Coca Cola exists! If I wanted a fucking coke I would get one! No problem with the movie trailers being cutdown as well. They can realize the 5 minute trailers online. 2 minutes is more than enough of my time at a theater. No texting and no phones. Period!!! No warnings. Lights go out and you are on your phone, then you are gone. I could go on and on.

    • Samhain2010

      * cut down

  • King

    Really trailers are there biggest gripe? I don’t even complain about ticket and concession price. My biggest problem is clearly theaters do not ask for ID anymore these kids are in Rated R films and they turn the theater into there little club talk the whole way through come 20 30 deep play music on there phones phones ringing they laugh at the stupidest shit never would i think a 16 yr old teen would laugh at seeing a butt cheek or breast it is ridiculous