New Trailer Guidelines: The Problem with Overlong Trailers


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Yesterday, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) released the new ‘advertisement guidelines.’ NATO has been developing this set of guidelines for several months and it was in response to public complaints about trailers being “too long and giving away too much plot.”

The voluntary guidelines will go into affect on October 1st and have placed restrictions on the length of trailers, and when advertisements could be shown. The specific restrictions cut the trailer running time from two minutes and thirty seconds to under two minutes; and “a trailer cannot be shown for a movie more than five months before release… nor can marketing materials be displayed inside of a theater for a film more than four months away from release.” But even with these restrictions NATO will allow distributors to have two exemptions per year.

Now, I have to repeat that this is a voluntary guideline and after October 1st it is at the discretion of the theater owner whether or not to implement these restrictions. But in my opinion, it would be very dim-witted if an owner did not employ the guidelines because it gives them the power over the studio. By cutting the running time of trailers, theater owners will have the option of “running more trailers, many of which studios pay [the theater] to play.”

Now, how does this affect the general public? To be honest, this keeps the broken system the same, and in reality, does not fix the actual problem.

The average theater plays around “seven or eight trailers before a movie…which translates to anywhere between seventeen and twenty minutes.” This is a ridiculous amount of trailers; but then one must add the theaters own advertisements, which are roughly two to five minutes long. This means that the average audience member has to watch about twenty-five minutes of trailers before the film; and I am not even counting the pre-movie show that takes place thirty minutes before the beginning of the trailers.

With that said, these guidelines do have a positive; movies cannot be advertised until five months before release. I love this rule because I am getting sick of studios pushing films in December when their release date is not until the summer: I am looking at you R.I.P.D. and Lone Ranger. I do not think studios understand that when I constantly see the same trailer over several months it aggravates me and my stubbornness prevents me from buying a ticket. I swear if I have to see the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow, Robocop, or Divergent one more time I will pull my hair out.

But this one positive does not change the fact that I am getting force-fed trailers for twenty-five minutes; and these are trailers I am seeing for the millionth time. And I understand that some people, unlike me, do not watch trailers online; which means the theater is the best way for the studios to sell their product.

But if I am seeing The Wolf of Wall Street I have to give up half my day. Now, I know it is my choice to see the film, but it is bad enough that I have to give up an arm and a leg for tickets and popcorn. Furthermore, it pisses me off that NATO claims that this is for the people when in reality it sounds like they just wanted the upper hand on the studios.

Yes, we all know that the studios are doing what they think is best to promote their film, and the owners are doing what is best for their business. But why do I have to feel swindled every time I go to the movies? Oh and NATO, trailers could still give away too much plot in two minutes.

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter 

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