US cinema owners call for shorter trailers

News Simon Brew
27 Jan 2014 - 15:09

Guidelines being recommended in the US could see a two minute limit being put on most movie trailers...

For a time in the UK last summer, you couldn't go and see a movie at a multiplex without seeing an extended preview for Fast & Furious 6. Running to over five minutes, you can't say it didn't do its job - the film went on to made sizeable piles of money - but it also managed to be a source of some irritation to those of us who venture to the movies on a regular basis.

That was an extended preview of sorts, but even the trailers themselves have been getting longer and longer. Some are encroaching three minutes apiece, and when you're sat in front of three or four prior to a movie, you really start to feel it.

In America, however, moves are afoot to restrict the length of the modern movie trailer. It comes as part of a series of recommendations from the National Association Of Theatre Owners (er, NATO), with a set of voluntary guidelines it's looking to introduce.

On trailers, it has some interesting guidance in particular. Firstly, it wants trailers to run no more than 150 days before the release of a film, with the caveat that each distributor can pick two of its annual releases to be exempt from that. So, for instance, Warner Bros wouldn't be able to release four trailers for its blockbusters up to 11 months out - as it did before Christmas. Instead, it could pick just a pair of them to promote in this way so far ahead (in cinemas anyway - there'd be nothing to stop it publishing them straight to the internet). That'd help pull back on the swathe of promos landing a year ahead.

Furthermore, NATO (not that one) wants to impose a two minute maximum runtime on individual trailers (again, with two exceptions). And it's looking to bring in these new standards from October 1st.

Whether it manages to do so or not remains to be seen. We suspect that other countries will be watching with interest, although don't expect a rush to follow suit.

While we're here, if NATO - we don't care which one - can also introduce guidelines to cut the spoilers out of trailers (such as with the recent promo for How To Train Your Dragon 2), we'd be very much obliged.

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