Coming Attractions: Theater Owners Push for Shorter Movie Trailers

Do lengthy previews deter you from going to the movies? The National Association of Theater Owners thinks so and is proposing new marketing rules that would limit their length.

It’s summer blockbuster season, a time when millions of Americans crowd into air-conditioned movie theaters to check out the latest Hollywood has to offer. On each visit, they also take in about 20 minutes of previews, which not everyone is happy about.

Count the National Association of Theater Owners among the long-trailer haters. The group believes more people will go to the movies if they didn’t have to sit through such lengthy previews.

My trailers are 2.5 minutes because that’s what we need to send the right message.

According to a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter, NATO’s executive board is calling for new marketing guidelines that would shorten trailer lengths by 30 seconds, from 2.5 to 2 minutes.

Considering that some theaters play seven to eight trailers before a feature film, in addition to any in-house advertising, coming attractions can tack on an additional 17.5 to 20 minutes to the movie-going experience.

The proposed changes are drawing expected resistance from some studio executives.

“My trailers are 2.5 minutes because that’s what we need to send the right message,” one executive, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Hollywood Reporter. “This could be a paradigm shift. Thirty seconds is a long time.”

The entertainment news publication also reported that in-theater trailers, along with TV advertising, are the most lucrative marketing tactics for the film industry.

The standard 2.5-minute guideline is voluntary and set by the Motion Picture Association of America, not theater owners. But studios are worried that should owners adopt NATO’s proposed guidelines, they  could cite the new rules in deciding not to run trailers that exceed 2 minutes. There’s also concern that with shorter trailers, some theaters will simply show more.

NATO is also proposing a limit on the amount of time a film could be marketed—four months before its release—and requiring a film’s release date be placed on all marketing materials.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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