Theaters Advocate Shorter Trailers, Marketing

Jan 30-ADDs link to opinion article published by Media Post outlining shortcomings of new guidelines
By Robert Marich
   Jan. 28, 2014—The movie theaters trade association is pushing two guidelines to reduce what it says it marketing clutter.
   The National Assn. of Theatre Owners (NATO) recommends film trailers run no more than two minutes, breaking with the incumbent industry agreement of 2:30. Also, it suggests marketing start no sooner than 150 days (or five months). At the moment, distributors start dribbling out marketing messages as long as 12 months in advance of theatrical premiere.
   NATO’s guidelines are just suggestions and its up to theaters and film distributors to work out actual arrangements.
  I’m surprised because distributor marketing for theatrical release is boffo. My proof is that box office is growing on a dollar basis and attendance—ticket sold—is declining only slightly despite inroads from DVD and video-on-demand with the same movies that play in theaters.
   I’m also surprised because the trailer running time issue can be resolved by simply having theaters—which are NATO members—announce actual start times of times of movies. At the moment, the only start time announced is the start of trailers, which can be 17:30 before the movie starts assuming five trailers multiplied by 2:30 running time for each.
   NATO’s press release says, “Two exemptions per distributor per year will be allowed for both trailer length and marketing lead time... These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands. The guidelines are completely voluntary and will be implemented through individual exhibition company policies, which may vary.”
   The guidelines have an implementation date of Oct. 1, though materials in the marketplace before that date are exempted.
   Boy, I don’t get this. Movie marketing for theatrical is quite effective for a release window under siege from on-demand video. There’s no new outcry from moviegoers about trailer clutter, though some have always not liked trailers while others actually enjoy them. And finally, if trailers become shorter, there is nothing in the guidelines preventing theaters for piling on more, leaving the total trailer runs before a movie unchanged.
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