As movies debuted this past summer, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) made a complaint about the ever expanding length of movie trailers. This complaint was formalized in late January when NATO released a set of optional guidelines to studios. The trade group said that the guidelines were developed to “maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry’s marketing efforts.”
The main argument is that trailers should not exceed two minutes, which would be considerably shorter than the standard two-and-a-half-minute trailers. Also, trailers should not be shown more than five months prior to a film’s release. Theaters would be given only two exceptions each year regarding both of these rules.
This rule would effect action and superhero blockbuster movies the most because studios utilize these two-and-a-half-minutes to show the most exciting, action packed scenes in order to intrigue viewers.
Since studios invest an exorbitant amount of money for the production of these blockbuster movies, they want to fund longer trailers that promote the movie to the best of their abilities.
The year 2014 will be a monumental one for Marvel with the following releases: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2), X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23) and Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1).
Although no major movie adaptations or remakes of musicals came out in 2013, several are debuting this year. Clint Eastwood directs the screen adaptation of the hit production about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys (June 20). Music heavyweights Jay Z and Will Smith will bring a contemporary spin to Annie (Dec. 19), starring Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis as the lovable “Maybe” crooning orphan. These movie musicals would benefit from the now-standard two-and-a-half-minute movie trailers, enabling studios to showcase their cast, often larger than in other genres such as comedies and horror movies. They also look to show off several tracks from the movie to promote upcoming album sales.
Theaters want trailers to be shorter so they can show more trailers before movies. Studios, on the other hand, want long trailers to best showcase their films. Studios and theaters are locked in a constant battle to protect their interests. For example, theaters raised concession prices, claiming studios recouped most of the profits from movie ticket sales.
This latest chapter in the impasse may amount to no more than a game of chicken, since the guidelines are not mandatory. Many studios doubt theaters will attempt to enforce the guidelines by not showing long trailers, and so studios will continue to produce them.
Movie-goers may not notice or mind the extra 30 seconds of movie trailers, especially considering previews are the ideal time to grab popcorn or talk to your seat mates. Some of us may even think the trailers are half the fun of going out to the movies.
Nicole Horton is Culture Editor at The Fordham Ram.