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Should trailers be shortened?

OPINION

January 29, 2014|By Matt Pais and Dana Moran | RedEye

The setup: The trade group representing major theater chains announced this week that it was clamping down on the duration of movie trailers. We asked two RedEye staffers to debate: Should movie trailers be restricted to two minutes?

YEP

No one should compain about movie trailers shrinking from two and a half minutes to two minutes. Do you know how that extra 30 seconds is used? In comedies it's to pack in the movie's sixth- and seventh-best jokes, and in dramas it's to semi-subtlely tell you what happens at the end.

Movies now start 20 minutes after their posted start times in order to allow for six or seven or 500 trailers beforehand. This is ridiculous. Yes, trailers help give a heads-up about what's coming from the studio that distributed the movie you're about to see. At one point in our lives, we all love trailers—they generate excitement and give us something to look forward to. That always feels nice, even if what we're anticipating is the pizza we plan to eat after this stupid movie ends.

Still. Everyone knows great showmanship involves leaving the audience wanting more, and that comes from being economical. (This also extends to advertising just a few months before the movie opens; only a select few people are actually marking their calendars 436 days in advance, and even they probably forget what they wrote down or can barely read what looks like "Av6tcr 2s.") Somewhere between pointless one-minute movie teasers and bloated two-and-a-half minute trailers is a sweet spot of basic information, quick shots of the stars doing whatever and an FYI about the release date. Boom. Time for the feature presentation. -Matt Pais (@mattpais), RedEye movie critic

NOPE

Am I the only person who still sits down in a movie theater and thinks, "Ooh, I hope there are some good new trailers!"? You know exactly what movie you've come to see, but the trailers are an element of mystery. They could look amazing. They could look terrible. But you never know what's coming next—only that you'll be whispering your two-second assessment to your seatmate before the next one starts.

Sure, these days everyone is watching previews the second they hit the Internet, but there was something special about the first time you saw a clip from "The Dark Knight" in all its 70-foot glory. Movie trailers are supposed to leave you wanting more, and sometimes two minutes just isn't long enough to do that.

Guys, movie trailers aren't the real villains here. That honor belongs to a trifecta of baddies: that pre-movies block of ads that forces you to sit through clips from some crappy ABC Family show, the ads for the live Metropolitan Opera screenings (one night only!) and the especially stupid AMC promos with the characters made from giant red balls. If we could kill all of THAT, going to the theater would be a much more pleasant experience. Oh, and keep that space roller coaster simulator with the giant popcorn kernel that explodes RIGHT before you go into a hairpin turn. That thing rules. -Dana Moran (@redeyedana), RedEye features editor

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