Theater Owners Want Shorter Trailers, Movie Studios Fume

Theater owners want shorter trailers for the movies they feature, and Hollywood is not happy about it, according to a Tuesday story on The Hollywood Reporter website.

The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) would collectively like to shave off 30 seconds of the 2.5-minute time limit by which trailers now abide.

Their reason: trailers are often too long and give away too much of the movie. The main purpose of the NATO executive board’s proposed guidelines is to give exhibitors more control over how movies are marketed within their cinemas.

Other changes would include a stipulation that movies cannot be marketed until four months prior to release (and by “marketed,” they’re including trailer play). As is currently the case on the 2.5-minute rule, there would be exceptions for big event pictures, which usually play the summer months.

While the 2.5-minute rule (set forth by MPAA) is voluntary, studio executives are concerned the NATO changes, which would also be voluntary, could result in theaters using the extra time to increase the amount of trailers that they play, thus driving up marketing costs for studios.

One studio executive fumed that 2.5 minutes were necessary “because that’s what we need to send the right message.”

“This could be a paradigm shift,” said the source, who asked not to be named. “Thirty seconds is a long time.”

Getting in to the motivation behind this proposal would be purely conjecture as NATO declined to comment further on the matter, but if their stated reasoning is true, we can definitely see their side.

While everyone loves to salivate over a highly anticipated film like Man of Steel‘s trailer or play the guessing game leading up to the release of a movie like Star Trek Into Darkness, it’s getting tougher for filmmakers to surprise their audiences, and these little mini-movies we’ve come to know as trailers are part of the problem.

While they may be fun to watch, especially that first time, they pretty much telegraph the whole film and the sense of discovery and story involvement that should be the sole job of the movie itself is often lost before the opening credits ever have a chance to roll.

Do you think theater owners wanting shorter trailers is an unreasonable demand, and, in your opinion, does watching them affect your enjoyment of the film, for better or worse?