National Association of Theater Owners Wants Shorter Movie Trailers

May 29, 2013
Source: THR

Movie Trailers

In case you didn't notice, the Motion Picture Association of America recently changed up their font and ratings display for movie trailers to make details on any given rating more prominent (see the slight difference above). However, another change might be hitting the movie trailer scene if the National Association of Theater Owners has anything to say about it. THR says the organization's executive board has a proposal for new guidelines in order to give exhibitors more control over the marketing of movies in their theaters. And the biggest complaint is the length and spoilerish nature of movie trailers.

NATO wants to limit the length of a movie trailer to only two minutes in an effort to maybe avoid longer trailers that cram in as much as they can, often giving away too much in the short time span, especially when it comes to showing action. A 30-second cut might not seem like much but when six or seven trailers play before a film, the time adds up. And honestly, when it comes to trailers lately, they can stand to lose some of the extra footage that would be better experience for the first time in the context of the film. Fast & Furious 6 for example spoiled the big moment of almost every single action sequence.

As of now the proposal is just that, and NATO wanted to see how studios might react to these guidelines before taking steps to make them official (it's no surprise that they aren't too happy). Another new guideline wouldn't allow movies to be marketed until four months prior to the release date, and that includes trailers. However, the guideline wouldn't be all that strict since NATO also says there would be exceptions for studios who want to tease big tentpoles way in advance. In addition, a release date would be required on all marketing materials, which would be informative, but hardly a necessity.

It's important to note also that these guidelines would be voluntary, but studios are worried an exhibitor could cite the policy and refuse to play a trailer longer than two minutes. They also think that with the extra time saves from shorter trailers would result in more trailers being shown, and that's something the studios usually pay exhibitors for in the end. It sounds like NATO is just testing the waters at this point, so don't expect any changes like this soon. However, it would be nice if studios held back a little on the footage shown in trailers so as to not give to much away before a film hits theaters. Thoughts?

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This sounds like the way to go, Last movie I went to see I took my daughter to go see Epic, the trailers started and I thought cool I like trailers, I don't know how long or how many showed, hell I was tuning them out so much I didn't even realize the actual movie had started. So yeah do something.

Jimmy Love on May 29, 2013


I agree. Less is more.

Jaleel White on May 29, 2013


I'm more concerned about the spoilerish nature of trailers. Totally agree that the Fast 6 trailer showed waaaaay too much. I kept thinking to myself, "why do I need to see the movie since I pretty much know what's gonna happen already thanks to the trailer?"

experimation on May 29, 2013


"why do I need to see the movie since I pretty much know what's gonna happen already thanks to the trailer?" Because the studios are scared that if they don't show you as much as possible, you won't show up. Even though everybody seems to hate the amount of story they give away in their trailers.

axalon on May 29, 2013


can't agree more with your comment, or the idea of shorter movie trailers in general. you should be able to sell your film in 90 seconds. take the trailers for The Master. they were unusual, relatively short, made me want to know more rather than showing everything that happened, and contained mainly material not in the finished cut. i went to see it and enjoyed it because (of the fantastic acting and because) i discovered the story for myself after i went in. the problem is, not many people *did* go to see it. compare and contrast with any major tentpole, which showed you most of the film in multiple trailers, tv spots and pre-release home viewing featurettes. sure, it's a different film for a different audience, but the comfort of knowing exactly what you are going to get is an easier sell. essentially, as an audience, we stopped being demanding and have jettisoned the thrill of the unknown, instead settling for a risk-free but much more homogenous experience, and the studios know this. it's our loss.

son_et_lumiere on May 29, 2013


Most people are really stupid. Or at least the marketing people who advise the editors on making movie trailers believe, or the focus groups, or whatever other evil douchebags come up with the spoiler trailers believe that not seeing the whole story unfold in 2 and a half minutes will make them not go see a movie. Marketing is so horrible these days that it's like a science.

Carpola on May 29, 2013


Your first line was right. Most people are stupid and gullible as Hell. Most people say they tune out advertising but these are usually the biggest suckers for it. Marketers know this and they make a LOT of money because of it. It doesn't matter what garbage you put up on the screen, how much you spoil it for the viewers or how many ads you run before the film starts, there will ALWAYS be people willing to throw money at the industry. Not that I have any first hand knowledge of advertising......

Charles on May 29, 2013


I for one did tune them out, after the first 2 I have no clue what was advertised. So no throwing my money around. By the way people aren't stupid! the assumption that everyone is, is in fact pretty stupid. I mean calling everyone else stupid because they like something you didn't is pretty shallow.

Jimmy Love on May 30, 2013


I never said everyone was stupid. I said most people are. Then there are those who can't read.

C on May 31, 2013


Most, everyone not that much of a margin, still a sign of some elitist who's taste in movies is so much better than MOST people, please you are not that special, you are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world. Like I said SHALLOW!

Jimmy Love on May 31, 2013


I don't mind so much the amount of trailers that play, even though we've all had times where we've sit through so many trailers we forget about what we came to see. That 10-minute grace period for when the movie starts (previews, then the movie) gives people (including myself) a bit of a buffer if they're late to the theatre - cause we've all done that at one time or another. One thing that does bug me is spoiler-ridden trailers. I don't feel a movie will be successful if I see the entire plot in a 2 minute period. Feels like the studio doesn't even have faith behind their product. As if sending out 6 international trailers is like bluffing with advertising. I like having a blank canvas and after just 1 trailer (not 5), I'll know whether or not I'd like to see it - and if I don't like it, well that's just my personal opinion towards the film and not the fault of an ad agency cutting a trailer. I'm in support of shrinking down the length of a trailer, but the amount played before the movie doesn't bother me.

Nick Sears on May 29, 2013


I love trailers. Heck, I'd be ok with a couple more of them. But I'm all for diminishing spoilers. Oblivion, I've heard, was at least some what ruined by its trailer.

Queue on May 29, 2013


Here's a crazy idea, how about no commercials

Nick on May 29, 2013


Ha ha ha ha ha, that's a good one! The last few times I was at the theatre, people actually CLAPPED during some ads. I mean they CLAPPED for crying out loud! Ads will never go away. As much as people SAY they hate them, they actually do the job they are intended for. The people watching have no idea how much it actually affects their purchasing decisions.

Charles on May 29, 2013


I've had 20 minutes worth of trailers before. I think 3 or 4, two minute long trailers would be okay.

DAVIDPD on May 29, 2013



Nielsen700 on May 29, 2013


Yes please, I've said before, I want to see the movie at the theater, not 30 seconds at a time at home.

Brian Sleider on May 29, 2013


Disney has already released six different "The Lone Ranger" trailers. I mean, how crazy is that?! I agree this over-marketing of films needs to stop. The studios need to realize that this only hurts their final product. I remember the days when one could actually go to watch a movie and actually be surprised by a certain plot twist or story element. How I long for those days again...

Triton on May 29, 2013


Indeed. Why even see it now - to fill in the gaps? Heh!

avconsumer2 on May 30, 2013


NATO is usually the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who the hell do they think they are? Anyways, trailers are already much shorter, if compared to previous decades, I don't know if limiting them more will help. Usually: The longer the trailer the better you can form an idea on the movie (doesn't necessarily mean a better trailer though). Shorter trailers = even faster editing, more of a teaser approach and less room to show the story (which some already don't do). Thus, more focus on flashy stuff, instantly recognizable faces, branding & stuff. Movies are a product people "buy" without knowing what they're getting, so it is in their interest to makes sure that you are on board/interested. If people "don't know what they're going to get" moviegoers perceive buying the ticket as a "risk". Limiting the time for marketers to sell their product represents a challenge for them (if you wanna phrase it in positive terms), but if people are more difficult "to sell" the theaters themselves are going to resent from it. Greed is definitely NOT good, you guise!

Davide Coppola on May 29, 2013


They should not be allowed to show any scenes from the last 30 minets of the film in trailers. I hate when they show like scenes from the climax in a trailer.

Happy camper on May 29, 2013


I'm sure I'm not alone but trailers might be one of my favorite things about going to the movies. (Anyone else have an all time favorite preview? Mine are Ransom). I can't tell you how often I go see a movie and I forget what I originally went there to see, and then feel disappointed when I remember because the trailers were so entertaining. Trailers that give too much of the movie away are disappointing but that's just a bonehead movie on the studios part to put such a trailer together. What I think is killing trailers is showing certain trailers in overkill to the point the movie no longer seems interesting. The most recent example was the movie Warrior...which really was a pretty good movie, but by the time it came out I was so sick of seeing the trailer (it played in front of just about every movie I saw that summer) I wasn't as interested in seeing the movie anymore. There's nothing wrong with only having 2:00 of previews. The theater I go to only shows 3 previews regardless of the movie playing. This is in comparison to the theater just down the road that plays around 6 before every movie, and even more during big event films. I feel a bit cheated by my 3 previews, but ultimately I've usually seen all the previews that are being shown anyway (bc I putz about in forums like this) and it gets me out of the theater a little quicker on those days I feel guilty for spending a nice sunny day in an awesome dark theater.

$47353571 on May 29, 2013


You are a marketer's wet dream. As rare as it is to find one to actually SAY out loud that they like watching trailers, I'm pretty sure there are plenty more who won't admit that they do. Now what was that famous line that P.T. Barnum said?

Charles on May 29, 2013


I say get rid of the 20 minutes of commercials before the trailers even start.

Dude on May 29, 2013


At my local there there was one trailer before Star Trek and 20-25 minutes of adds. WtF!

Richie G on May 30, 2013


/signed Didn't know about the 10 minute "preview" of Trek I was getting when I went to the IMAX showing of... I forget what. I do feel that it tremendously took away from my first time experience of the movie as a whole - though I still loved it. Have been limiting myself to teasers and single viewings of trailers (excluding trailers at the theater) for a while now to great effect (I think). I'm not sure that a time limit is going to help any though. Seems like they'd just stuff all the expensive f/x / memorable shots into a shorter time frame - leave out some of the fluff. Just one giant assault on your senses - which may actually turn out to be more detrimental. Eh - dunno. Probably a step in the right direction anyway.

avconsumer2 on May 30, 2013

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