National Association of Theater Owners Wants Shorter Trailers, Fewer Spoilers

Chloe Moretz in Carrie Remake Trailer

Movie trailers have gotten longer - and more spoiler-happy - in recent years, as many a film buff has noticed (and complained about). Sometimes these theatrical previews include pivotal plot beats without the full context, like in the Ender's Game trailer; other times, they include so many major story developments (see: the Carrie trailer) it can leave you feeling like you've just watched a truncated version of the movie.

Well, the National Association of Theater Owners (i.e. the other NATO) feels your pain, and is pushing for studios to cut down the length of movie trailers. The hope is that will result in more theatrically-released previews that better tease what a film has to offer - like the early Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel trailers (to use recent examples) - without giving away too many of the figurative cards in its hand, at the same time.

NATO wants the standard maximum running time for full-length movie trailers - including the exceptions to that policy (like the 3-minute R.I.P.D. trailer) - to be trimmed down from 2.5 minutes to two minutes flat, in order to cut down on both spoilers and the amount of time audiences have to spend waiting through trailers that are attached to the film they paid to see.

The 30-second trimming will make a difference, when it comes to shaving 3-5 minutes off the running time for blockbusters and tentpoles proceeded by some 7-8 trailers; though, studios and theaters might then choose to feature more trailers with each screening, so the overall waiting time ends up remaining the same (for better or for worse). Some people might even prefer that it remains unchanged, as they enjoy having that "cushion" in case they're running extra-late to a screening.

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in the trailer for Cloud Atlas

Moreover, it's not so much the length as it is the approach to trailer editing, which determines how much in the way of essential plot plots ends up being revealed. The six-minute Cloud Atlas trailer released online - which was condensed down to two minutes for theater viewing - was focused on encapsulating the experience of watching that film (to get people interested) - yet, it also gives away very little information about what, exactly, happens in any one of the picture's multiple story-lines (as one example).

There's also something to be said for marketing that only focuses on one aspect of a film's narrative, leaving the rest to be discovered anew when you sit down in a theater (see: the trailers for Looper back in 2012). Some advertising approaches go so far as to include cut scenes and lines of dialogue, or they paint a misleading portrait of what the final movie result is. (Longtime readers may recall a related controversy over the marketing for Drive and Paranormal Activity 3 a couple years back.) There's also the angle favored by the Anchorman 2 teasers, which do not include any actual footage from the film.

NATO is also hoping to establish new restrictions on studio marketing - like not allowing in-theater advertisements until four months ahead of a film's release - or requiring all promotional material to include an official release date. However, it's the trailer issue that has (and will continue to have) a more direct impact on the average moviegoer's experience, both during a screening and the pre-release build-up.

Of course, NATO can only propose these ideas (not make them the new law), so it remains to be seen if studios will comply with the organization's wishes in full...


How about it - would you like trailers to be shorter, have fewer spoilers, or both? What are you thoughts on NATO's other proposed changes to movie marketing?

Source: National Association of Theater Owners [via /Film]

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