This week, NATO, the National Association of Theatre Owners (who really should get a different name for their group so they don’t have to share their name with that other, FAR less famous NATO), put out a series of recommendations they hope movie theaters and companies will adopt. Among their list of proposals is the ideas that movie trailers should only be 2 minutes long and run only 150 days before a film’s release, with any other marketing in the theater also limited to 120 days. The film distributors would be able to override these rules for 2 films per year and could have a trailer that could then run for a whopping 3 whole minutes.
They then go one step further, folks. To curb your desire to have your phone out during the previews, the trailers cannot have any prompts to visit websites and they would not be able to have any third-party brands or endorsements. These new NATO guidelines would also require distributors to have to have special negotiations for the right to show special content like behind-the-scenes material and extended looks with the exhibitioners.
I get NATO’s goal of giving movie theater owners more control, but in the age of the internet is here people, and that genie is not going back into its bottle. With ever-evolving technology, movie theaters might not even exist anymore a generation or two from now and you are only going to help speed up the process with ideas like this.
While I do agree that trailers “are played in the theaters at the discretion of each theater chain or individual theater owner” may I remind you that a little trick of staying in business is to remain an asset to your distributors. You aren’t the only game in town for them to get their money anymore, you either get your head in the game or embrace your eventual irrelevance and nonexistence. Yes theater owners should be more involved, but they should be going for an explosion of content at their theaters. What is going to keep theaters alive is creative experiences and exclusives, some feature they can’t get at home or some footage they can’t get (in good quality) online. Your patrons should be dazzled from the time they walk in your door to the time they walk out with content and options.
I love going to the movie theater, I hit up the Carmike 10 and/or the River 15 (the local theaters in my area) whenever I can, but if these are the best ideas NATO has to offer, then I fear for their future.
What are your thoughts about the length and exposure of movie trailers? What are some ways theaters can stay relevant in the 21st century? Let us know in the comments!