Will shorter trailers make moviegoers happier?

Theater owners are mulling new guidelines for Hollywood's coming attractions, despite misgivings from the film studios.

By Bruce Kennedy May 30, 2013 12:38PM

Movie theater popcorn (© Lanny Ziering, Brand X Pictures, Getty Images)One good thing about movie trailers: Theaters show so many before the feature that even if you arrive late, you won't likely miss too much.

But moviegoers often grumble about having to sit through seemingly endless coming attractions when all they want is the movie they've paid for. And the folks at your local cineplex have been apparently been paying attention to those complaints.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO -- yes, there's another one) has proposed some voluntary marketing guidelines for the film industry, including cutting the length of a movie trailer down from the current 2 1/2 minutes to 2 minutes.

The film studios conform to voluntary marketing rules established by the Motion Picture Association of America, which restrict a trailer's running time. However, each company is allowed one exception a year, as in the case of the current three-minute trailer for the upcoming reboot of the Superman story "Man of Steel," from Time Warner subsidiary (TWX) Warner Bros.

Some of the major movie theater chains run as many as eight trailers before a film, which can take up to 20 minutes. And those trailers don't necessarily include any additional, in-house ads.

While NATO declined to comment for the Hollywood Reporter story, sources told the magazine the association's executive board came up with the planned guidelines "in an effort to give exhibitors more control over how Hollywood movies are marketed inside of their cinemas."

NATO is also considering other rule changes, such as making sure most films aren't marketed until four months before their release and requiring a release date on all of a film's marketing materials.

How is Hollywood taking this? Apparently, not too well. Many film studios pay theater owners to play trailers, and some worry the "exhibitors" will use the time saved to simply play more trailers.

Then there's the industry's artistic temperaments. "My trailers are 2.5 minutes because that's what we need to send the right message," one studio executive who asked to remain anonymous told The Hollywood Reporter. "This could be a paradigm shift. Thirty seconds is a long time."

Another suggestion: How about movie trailers that don't give away the entire plot?

More on moneyNOW

May 30, 2013 5:05PM
Movie trailers are too long and show too much of the movie.  I don't want to see all the best scenes or hear the best lines before I see the movie.
May 30, 2013 1:20PM
I love the movie previews. It's the damn commercials that need to be cut.
May 30, 2013 5:52PM

Don't cut the movie trailers.  I want to see those.  I just don't understand why when we go to the movies we have to be subjected to watching television commercials.  We are already paying dearly for TV commercials at home via our dearly beloved, outrageously overpriced cable companies.  When I pay to go to the movies that's all I want to see is MOVIES, not television and certainly NOT television commercials.

May 30, 2013 7:02PM

Leave the trailers in...take out the damn commercials...I go to the movies to not see them!!!

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