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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…



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