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Theater Operators Seek Shorter Movie Trailers

27 Jan, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

New guidelines proposed by theatrical trade group suggest expanded marketing opportunities for home entertainment

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) Jan. 27 recommended studio movie trailers going forward be no longer than two minutes in length. The trade group released voluntary marketing guidelines for theaters operating in the United States and Canada. It said the guidelines, among others, are designed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry’s marketing efforts and to promote competition.

Movie trailers currently run from two-and-a-half minutes to three minutes in length. A block of previews screened before the average theatrical showing can run from 15 to 17 minutes, according to NATO.

NATO also suggested that marketing lead time be limited to 150 days prior to release date for trailers and 120 days for all other in-theater marketing materials. Two exemptions per distributor per year will be allowed for both trailer length and marketing lead time.

NATO’s board last April voted to create the guidelines.

While the guidelines are voluntary, NATO, in a statement, said they are in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands.

Shortened movie trailers offer home entertainment distribution channels such as packaged media, digital and even streaming an opportunity to expand new-release marketing by offering extended trailers

“Without a doubt, there is always an opportunity for studios to utilize packaged media in a more effective manner to advertise upcoming releases,” B. Riley & Co. analyst Eric Wold said in an email. “However, given the ability of consumers to either fast-forward through those trailers or leave the room for a  few minutes, the effectiveness is never as strong as within movie theaters.”

Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said home entertainment studios could increase marketing efforts in packaged-media releases, which already include both home entertainment and theatrical trailers.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment, for example, often includes extended movie and TV show trailers on its Blu-ray Disc releases, which can be accessed through an Internet-connected BD player.

“I’m not sure there is a lot of appetite to sit through [trailers] when you pay $5.99 for VOD, but I suppose [studios] can try,” Pachter said in an email.

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