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Theatre Owners Push Studios For 2-Minute Limit On Movie Trailers

The Playlist By Ben Brock | The Playlist January 28, 2014 at 11:04AM

Reader, I went to see a movie over the weekend, and before it I saw a trailer for a film that shall remain nameless.* It was an entirely blameless trailer for 90 seconds, during which it sketched an arc, introduced some characters, and looked pretty. Then, just as it was ending, it didn't, and instead went on for another baffling minute, entirely switching gears and throwing the audience into utter confusion. This, many people find, is an increasingly common experience: trailers are becoming too long, giving away too much and stuffing in too many extraneous and confusing elements.
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Movie Trailer Approval

(This rant has been rated APPROVED for nerds who like to complain about movie theatre conditions.)

Reader, I went to see a movie over the weekend, and before it I saw a trailer for a film that shall remain nameless.* It was an entirely blameless trailer for 90 seconds, during which it sketched an arc, introduced some characters, and looked pretty. Then, just as it was ending, it didn't, and instead went on for another baffling minute, entirely switching gears and throwing the audience into utter confusion. This, many people find, is an increasingly common experience: trailers are becoming too long, giving away too much and stuffing in too many extraneous and confusing elements.

Well, in good news for those of us who care, that may start changing, with the news (via THR) that the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO, but not that NATO, which will only get involved if the situation really goes downhill) has issued a set of voluntary guidelines for its theatres, limiting trailers to two minutes long. Two minutes was the standard run-time for a trailer until pretty recently, but over the past few years blockbusters have pushed it into the 2:30 range and beyond, allowing for more plot details and, usually, a dislocated and confusing quip at the very end that doesn't actually make sense to anyone who hasn't yet seen the movie.

NATO says that from October, theaters can choose to impose this limit and ask for shorter trailers: each distributor will be allowed two exceptions annually, if they choose to use them, so don't expect the absolute mega-blockbusters to necessarily abide by these rules. Indeed, distributors could yet wreck them altogether by not playing nice with the theaters, but they had significant input in the planning stages so hopefully everyone's on board.

The guidelines also regulate how long before a release date trailers can appear, setting it at five months, which is also something that's been slipping, and it will be nice to not have to see teasers for Christmas movies in May (but again, exceptions will apply). Assuming it all holds together, though, this looks like a good move. One more thing they should look at, though. Is it just me, or did it used to be that you had a good few seconds of blackness between each trailer, to cleanse the palate? Now, they blend near-seamlessly into each other, and you can't readjust to each one in time. Get on it, NATO.

*Fine, it was “A Winter's Tale.” Can anyone tell me what the hell that was all about? 

This article is related to: Film Trailers


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