For those of you who feel bombarded by the repetitive formula of movie trailers and take your time showing up to the theater in order to avoid some of the (seemingly) endless previews, you may have found solace with the most unlikely of heroes: theater owners. The Hollywood Reporter claims that the National Association of Theater Owners (ironically abbreviated as NATO) is pushing for new guidelines that will limit the length of movie trailers to two minutes.
This comes in response to the three-minute long Man of Steel trailer that recently hit the big-screen. Currently, voluntary marketing rules set forth by the MPAA restrict trailers to 2.5 minutes, with studios allowed one exception per year (Man of Steel). It is not uncommon for exhibitors to play seven or eight trailers before the main feature. That adds up to 17.5 to 20 minutes – in addition to the in-house advertising.
NATO (in this case, the National Association of Theater Owners), representing over 30,000 movie screens across the U.S., is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, and the organization to most directly feel the brunt of movie-goers complaints. Proposed by NATO’s executive board, the new regulations ask for cutting 30 seconds off the trailer-length in order to help boost ticket sales. Also being discussed is the timing of trailers, which could be limited to a four-month window before the film’s actual release. So no more “Coming to Theaters Summer 2014.” Needless to say, studio execs are not happy about this, claiming that it will be difficult to communicate “the right message” of a film in such a short trailer.
In the midst of increasing viewership online, one would think that studio execs would be more willing to divert long-form trailers to viral marketing campaigns. According to Visible Measure, the average online viewership performance of the top five films for 2012 was 162 million, an increase of 25% from 2011. The three most-viewed trailers were Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 with 250 million views, The Avengers with $218 million views, and The Dark Knight Rises with 168 million views. These numbers include copies and derivatives of the original content uploaded by the studio; consequently, the sales cost of trailer distribution is significantly lower. Depending on how influential NATO proves to be, 2.5-minute internet-only previews may prove to be in great demand through engaging audiences to seek out the trailers themselves.