Movie Theater Owners, Lay Off My Trailers!

The National Association of Theater Owners wants to clip the length of movie trailers from 2 minutes and 30 seconds to two minutes even. The cinema runners claim that they have received too many complaints about the length of trailers and their propensity to give away the whole movie. Contrarian movie buffs (is there any other kind?) questioned whether the suggested 30-second trim will actually fix the problems they mention. For example I believe the ending of Castaway was spilled before the 2-minute mark of the trailer. 

After all, NATO (this NATO, not that NATO) is not exactly known for its consumer care. These are the people that take a 1,275% markup for selling popcorn. Perhaps this desire to shorten trailers exists to fit a newer, more profitable screening schedule, wherein the theater show another trailer, and make more money for it. Considering that 2012 was the most profitable year ever for movies, the necessity of changing the status quo just to fluff another revenue stream seems dubious.

Besides, don’t movie-makers have enough external hands controlling their film? Screenplays are retouched by writer after writer like a Google doc. A studio director almost never has final cut, and his or her entire project can be chopped and tailored by a studio because a test screen audience somewhere in the San Fernando Valley disliked something or another. The motion picture ratings board will often fuss over the details they find lurid, and the studio will oblige them for them for the profit discrepancy that exists between a PG-13 and an R Rating. Some actors and actresses hold enough clout to change something they do not like. Then, a film will be picked apart with the utmost care, and trimmed to brevity with the only the essential moments and most exciting shots (the explosion, the kiss, the girl taking off her clothes, separated by incremental Inception BWONGS) are all that remains. Then, as if their weren’t enough cooks to spoil the sauce, exhibitors want to nickel and dime the full length trailer?

Shouldn’t NATO be more concerned with the increasingly quality of projectors? Or the annoyances of 3D? If they actually cared about their patrons experience, maybe they would out their cigars on M. Night Shyamalan’s face.

Trailers are often the best part of the experience. You can shout at or openly mock the action on screen, you can choose which ones to be excited about, and they serve as a warm up for the actual film. Unsurprisingly, advertising is the last bastion of pure quality in American cinema. Why meddle with it?