Theater owners establish new guidelines for trailers and posters for upcoming movies

If you’re going to establish new rules about the content of movie trailers, can we start with some sort of agreement about not including any shots from the last 45 minutes of the film?

The National Association Of Theater Owners has had rules in place about the content and length of movie trailers for quite a while, allowing a few exceptions per year. One of those rules held the running time of a trailer to under 2:30, but it appears they’ve decided that trailers are too long in general now, and they’re reducing the maximum running time by thirty full seconds.

What I find most interesting is the idea that they’re setting a new rule about how early you can start advertising a film. Right now, it is not uncommon to see teaser trailers a full year ahead of a movie’s release, especially if you’re talking about giant summer blockbusters. The new rule would establish that no trailer can be released more than five months before a film’s release date, while marketing materials like posters and standees would be held to a mere four months before a film’s arrival in theaters.

Each distributor will be given two exemptions per year on each of the rules, so I would imagine you’ll see studios pick one film from each major season to release early and to cut at longer than 2 minutes. If you’re Disney, and you know you’ve got “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” coming, that’s going to be the thing you bet big on, and the same is true of “Star Wars Episode VII.” So there are the two exemptions for 2015, and every other film, you have to market within the far more conservative restrictions that NATO is suggesting.

The new guidelines will take effect for any film being released after October 1, 2014, and according to the article in the Hollywood Reporter, this move was made at the behest of theater owners who feel like they have no control over the marketing done inside their theaters. If each trailer is 2:30 and you have seven or eight trailers in front of a film, that can be as long as 20 minutes an audience is sitting and waiting before their film begins after the actual start-time.

As with the old trailer “rules,” these are guidelines, and there’s no way for NATO to enforce them with punishments. Studios have certainly played along in the past, though, and I would imagine we’ll see a shift in strategy from all of the major distributors as a result of this. On giant movies, there are all sorts of ways studios try to get your attention, like the 25 different magazine covers over the course of 25 hours that Empire and Bryan Singer are in the middle of right now for “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” but it seems like it’s a fine line between hype and annoyance.

Tell me what you guys think… is the length of a trailer the main issue? Are there any other guidelines you think studios should start to follow regarding the content of movie trailers? Or do you like things the way they work right now?