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Discuss: Are Movie Trailers Too Long? National Association Of Theater Owners Want Shorter Promos

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by Kristen Lopez
May 29, 2013 3:51 PM
8 Comments
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Movie marketing is so pervasive through social media, yet the movie trailer endures, continuing to be a key piece of marketing for a movie’s success. So, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) wants to reduce all of that; not by showing fewer trailers, but by cutting the length of them. According to The Hollywood Reporter, NATO wants to require all film trailers to be two minutes in length; a thirty second cut from average runtime of trailers today.

According to NATO, this will reduce customer complaints about spoilerific trailers or the sheer amount of them that can leave few surprises when the finished product is released (All the trailers used to promote “The Amazing Spiderman” last year amounted to showing 18% of the movie to audiences before it was released.)

NATO also wants to prevent trailers from being released any longer than four months before the release date, and that all trailers must have a release date attached to them. This seems to be questionable, mostly because trailers that come out over a year before the feature generally bear zero footage. The studios, of course, are not happy about this turn of events. While the move would be voluntary, studio heads fear theaters would have the power to utilize the guidelines to not show their product. In addition, the studios believe this will allow NATO to use that extra space to insert more trailers. 

While I agree, I also think it could lead to another problem: more advertising for the theaters themselves. Depending on which theater chain is in your area, theaters like Cinemark promote their own events on top of the trailers and the “pre-show” entertainment, which generally consists of ads from local businesses. By cutting trailer length, would this allow theaters to place more of their own personal advertising ahead of the movies? Their belief that trailers provide too many spoilers can be argued as true, but there’s no way to determine that until the film has been released, and is shaving thirty seconds off a trailer really going to change that? If anything, theaters/studios should take a cue from France, who refuses to show trailers that contain any sequences from the end. This seems to be a quick fix for trailer editors, and not something that affects the theaters. There’s no date for an implementation of this rule, or if it will even be enforced; so keep an eye on that trailer runtime! 

And what do you think? Is NATO on to something, or is there something more drastic that needs to be done about movie trailers? [via /Film, photo via For a Few Movies More]

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8 Comments

  • stefilm | August 4, 2013 1:21 AMReply

    There are some trailers that really grab my attention. Those trailers are always the ones that give you less than more. Throw in some epic music, with little to no dialgue and some weird flashes of storyline from the film, and you have a great trailer. When you show a chunk of the film with different scenes from the movie, It can be way too much. I don't want to know the full story, I want to know bits and pieces. I think trailers are great, but, only when you know little, but you're intrigued. If it's too long, it can be boring, and potentially ruin the movie. Take the new hunger games, catching fire trailer. It's too long. That's a huge blockbuster, they should have made the trailer more inriguing, after seeing the trailer, I feel like i'v seen half the movie. Parania, with Harriso Ford, I feel like I already saw the movie. I have no interest in seeing it. The new Ben Stiller movie, that's coming out in december, good trailer. Weird, and defintiely grabs your attention. It's only about a minute long. My point is, less is more. If you show too much, it ruins the film. Short and sweet is the way to go, no matter what genre of film. It makes the film more epic, and I believe it would increase the films attendence.

  • HOW ABOUT "NO" | May 30, 2013 8:33 AMReply

    How about they stop showing trailers period. To me they are kind of like piracy warnings on commercial DVDs. Yes, I know movies exist, and I pay to see them in theaters obviously, because I'M HERE. I'm bombarded by movie marketing everywhere else outside the theater, it seems insulting that I have paid the theater, sat down, and now get bombarded by more. Then I could leave sooner, too. But I suppose if all movies began on the nose at showtime then people would no longer feel comfortable waiting in line to pay $50 for a large popcorn.

  • Rodney | May 30, 2013 4:57 AMReply

    Man of steel is currently up to tv spot number 8! The third theatrical trailer was well made, it gave little away other than the film is going to be filled with action, and told us virtually nothing of the plot aside from the fact that it has superman in it. But 8 tv spots?

    I remember the trailer for Godzilla from the late 90s had a teaser trailer out a year before release, but since it wasn't in the film proper it wasn't really a concern. I think it depends on the type of films they're trying to promote... Action films can simply show a series of explosions to get people in the door, while dramas and tally films might need to rely on a little bit of plot spoiler to get people in the door.

    Typically, comedies fare the worst from trailers, with studios opting to show most of the really funny stuff in the trailer and leaving little for the actual film. That annoys the hell out of me.

  • LA2000 | May 29, 2013 6:55 PMReply

    All of these suggestions don't address the real problem: the box office is so front loaded at this point that the marketing must lie, cheat, and steal to get seats filled in the first 3 days. Whether a film is good or bad is almost irrelevant at this point. The studios have no issue with giving away the end of the movie in a trailer, because once they have your money, they don't care what you think. Even if a film is fantastic and resonates with the audience, there is no question that attendance for the film will fall off precipitously in the second weekend. The only question is how precipitously. So the studios have absolutely nothing to lose.

    It didn't used to be this way. When you look back at the industry in the 80's and early 90's, it used to be possible to grow attendance based on cultivating word of mouth. Take "Flashdance". That little picture had a week over week increase in attendance each weekend for the first three weekends - in wide release - without adding a single screen. It is virtually unimaginable that that could happen now. Pictures today, even the massive hits, saturate screens and then vanish in a handful of weeks. By contrast, it took E.T. 35 weeks to lose only half of its screens. In the same amount of time, "Iron Man 3", the biggest film so far this year, will have had its theatrical run, its dvd/home video run, and will be getting ready to premiere on premium cable.

    Movies are no longer an "experience", they are a highly disposable commodity. All of them, good or bad. By necessity, the studios are in the business of "smash and grab" marketing, and those trailers and tv spots are the most effective tool at their disposal.

  • PcChongor | May 29, 2013 9:01 PM

    Is that you, Soderbergh?

  • Ugh | May 29, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    I agree that some movies have far too many trailers. You don't need to put out a new one every week. But I would say it'd be nice if trailers - with a few special exceptions maybe - had a running time cap. The 2 GUNS trailer is 3 minutes long! There's no reason a Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg buddy cop movie should have a 180 second teaser trailer.

  • Qwerty | May 29, 2013 4:49 PMReply

    I agree with Shala in that there are too many trailers for one movie (like Man of Steel must have at least 9 different trailers). Anyways, my favorite trailer ever is The Social Network and it technically only lasts for about a minute and a half. It didn't show too much while still being able to get the audience interested. 1 minute and 30 seconds shouldn't be a problem and could result in less spoilers. Although, the 6 minute Cloud Atlas trailer was also outstanding and didn't give away too much. It just depends on who's in charge of marketing.

  • Shala | May 29, 2013 4:14 PMReply

    I don't think they are too long but I think for some films there are too many. Who needs 4 different trailers anyway?

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