Theater Owners Pursue Guidelines to Shorten Movie Trailers

The National Association of Theater Owners is proposing a new approach to marketing that will include limiting the running time of movie trailers. The controversial move, which is reportedly part of an effort to provide exhibitors with more control over how movies are marketed inside their cinemas, would reduce trailers to two minutes (30 seconds shorter than the norm). Theater owners have argued that trailers can be too long and often reveal too much of a movie’s plot.

“It’s not uncommon for many circuits to play seven or eight trailers before a film,” notes The Hollywood Reporter. “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,” adds the article. “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.”

“My trailers are 2.5 minutes because that’s what we need to send the right message. This could be a paradigm shift. Thirty seconds is a long time,” said one studio executive.

THR cites additional NATO marketing rules currently being considered: “Movies couldn’t be marketed until four months before their release, including trailer play, although there would be exceptions (studios often tease their big tentpoles months in advance). Also, a film’s release date would be required on all marketing materials.”

The studios currently follow voluntary MPAA marketing guidelines that cap a trailer at 2.5 minutes, although each company is afforded one exception per year. For example, a studio might opt to promote an upcoming blockbuster with a 3-minute trailer.