Theater owners want to shorten movie trailers by 30 seconds

It’s probably obvious from the fact that I write this website that I’m a big fan of movie trailers. So much promise, so much wonder! Without any disappointing endings to ruin the magic. Trailers have been the highlight of my theater-going experience more times than I can count. Now, an organization of theater owners is seeking rules to shorten trailers by 30 seconds. Ooh, God forbid we take time away from your precious quizzes and Coca-Cola ads and Dolby sound montages. How about you just start them earlier?

In a controversial move, the National Association of Theater Owners is pushing for new marketing rules that include limiting the length of a movie trailer to two minutes — 30 seconds shorter than is the norm.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that NATO’s executive board came up with the proposed new guidelines in an effort to give exhibitors more control over how Hollywood movies are marketed inside of their cinemas.

I admire the balls of a group who adopts the acronym “NATO” and expects people to know they mean theater owners and not the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when they say it. “Better do what they say, dude, they have Tomahawk missiles.”

Theater owners, who feel the brunt of complaints from the public, believe trailers are often too long and can give away too much of the plot.

Okay, to be fair, that seems like a legitimate criticism. But it’s also kind of like the owner of a dealership telling Ford how to design cars.

It’s not uncommon for many circuits to play seven or eight trailers before a film. That translates to 17.5 minutes to 20 minutes, on top of in-house advertising. Exhibitors believe the new rule could boost ticket sales by making the theatergoing experience more attractive.

Hollywood studios — which rely heavily on trailers to woo moviegoers — refute the notion that 2.5 minutes is too long. Sources say they have reacted none too well when briefed on NATO’s plan in recent days. NATO’s executive board wanted to get the reaction of studios before taking further action.

Studios currently abide by voluntary marketing guidelines set forth by the MPAA restricting a trailer to 2.5 minutes. Each company is granted one exception a year (as an example, one theatrical trailer for Man of Steel runs three minutes). [HollywoodReporter]

I understand what they’re thinking, but I think they’re off on this one. Trailers are one of the few added values going to the theater actually has over staying home nowadays. You really want to shorten them? Play to the few advantages you still have. You want to make the theater-going experience more attractive? Focus on seats that work and kicking out texters. And maybe some t-shirt bazookas, people go nuts for that.