We all hate that half hour of ads we are presented with before every film at the cinema. We are always glad when the the annoying television commercials finally segue into trailers, and we have a chance to ogle our favourite stars in their up-and-coming features, deciding which one we will go to see next. However, it has long been a rising complaint of cinema-goers that trailers, rather like the films they advertise, are getting longer and longer…and longer.
After sitting through four minutes of explosion scenes from the latest Die Hard movie, we find ourselves beginning to wonder; should we even bother to go to see it? After all, we’ve already seen all the best bits.
The executive board of the National Association of Theatre Owners (or NATO, as they are known) have decided to fight back against this growing trend by issuing a new set of guidelines which are aimed at curbing the ‘over-promotion’ of films, to the extent that movies are getting spoiled for everyone over six months before they’re due out.
The new guidelines will aim to limit the length of trailers to a mere 120 seconds, and not allow them to play in cinemas more than five months before the film’s actual release date. The guidelines will begin to take effect on films which open on or after October 1st, and although they are only voluntary, studios are concerned they could have a detrimental effect in that cinemas may refuse to screen particular trailers, or try to squeeze too many shorter trailers into one film screening.
NATO represents the interests of US cinemas, so these voluntary guidelines may hold even less sway over the distribution of trailers in the rest of the world. However, considering how crucial the mainstream US film industry has become in relation to the rest of us, whatever they choose to do will inevitably have a knock-on effect worldwide.
As far as film marketing campaigns are concerned, the most crucial aspect of placing limitations upon trailers (other than the length of the main trailers themselves) may be the effect on teaser campaigns, most of which begin many months, or even over a year before the planned release of the film. If theatres do begin to abide by the suggested rules, we may be seeing yet another change in how our movies are marketed to us – fewer spoilers perhaps, but less quality time to appreciate and anticipate each movie.