American Cinema Chains Want To Limit Trailer Running Times To Just Two Minutes – But Why?

There are plenty of ways in which going to the cinema offers a better experience than watching a movie at home, but its arguable that any difference between the options is either fading away or, worse still, coming up in favour of the sofa.

I don’t have to put up with yakkety brats in my living room. I can make sure my 3D films are suitably well-illuminated. If I want a drink, it’s likely to be somewhat more affordable than a cinema supervat. And the film starts when I want it to.

But I do love going to the cinema, and paying homage to the films on that great, shimmery, silver shrine of a screen. I like to see films in their natural habitat, making the most of what they’ve got.

I even enjoy seeing trailers in the cinema, for just the same reason. Perhaps, though, that experience is about to be somewhat handicapped too.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the National Association of Theater Owners* are looking for new regulations to limit the run time of movie trailers. If they get their way, all trailers played in cinemas will have to clock in at two minutes or under, shaved down from the current two minutes thirty – which is already pretty tight, isn’t it?

According to the Association, clipping the run time of trailers will give cinemagoers a beter experience. They’ve apparently learned, from complaints made by the public, that:

trailers are often too long and can give away too much of the plot.

Well, okay – they do tend to give away more plot than is ideal, but run time only plays any kind of part in this because a currently popular trailer paradigm is to synopsise the movie. That doesn’t have to be the case. At all.

Most trailers will probably be just fine at a couple of minutes or less, but let’s have a look at one recent teaser that really made use of the two and half minute window at its disposal.

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The solution to any audience quibbles about spoilery trailers isn’t to try and fit that same, plot-shovelling format into fewer frames, it’s to assemble the footage in a different format, to a different end.

It’s not the size of trailers that needs altering, it’s their shape.

I expect that the cinema chains have an ulterior motive. Maybe they’re trying to squeeze in more screenings per day without reducing the number of trailers too dramatically. Or maybe they want a higher proportion of paid ads in the pre-show. Or perhaps, simply enough, they just want to fit in more trailers.

It’s… it’s going to be the paid ads one, isn’t it? “Follow the money” and all that.

Well, at least we’ll be able to expect some “extended, internet only” trailers for nerds like you and me should this regulation come to pass. Better than nothing.

*The nation in question is the USA. Did the misspelling of theatre not give that away?

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