Are Movie Trailers Too Long? It Depends…..

  |   Commentary

logo_headerNATO-300x63We read with interest the announcement by the National Association of Theater Owners this week regarding new guidelines for movie trailers. For those of you who haven’t seen the NATO Guidelines the summary is that they want trailers to be no more than two minutes long and to be released not more than 120 days before theatrical release.  Let’s take a look at what’s behind the request from NATO.

Two Minute Warning  Trailers are shown before the start of the featured movie, and movies are shown at set times in each theater.  The pundits are saying that the reason behind the request for shorter trailers is that too many plot points are being given away in longer trailers.  The NATO guidelines don’t offer up any comment about the content of the trailers.  But, if trailers get made earlier and earlier, you  have more trailers in the market at any given time, and if they are all longer than three minutes, it’s hard to fit them all in before the start of the movie.  So it makes total sense from the standpoint of the theater owner to request fewer trailer weeks and shorter trailers.

So what’s IVA’s view?  We agree with the pundits who note that giving away too many plot points may inadvertently disincentivize people from seeing a movie.  If the prevailing length for trailers is three minutes or more, the makers of trailers may find themselves under pressure to include scenes that divulge more plot points, so the request from NATO to shorten the trailers may result in fewer spoilers.  Having said that, there probably are times when a movie benefits from a longer trailer, and the NATO guidelines recognize that by providing for exceptions.

How far in advance should a trailer be released?  We definitely have been seeing trailers come out earlier.  The first trailer for  “Anchorman 2” came out a year in advance.  There are currently only four movies on our Top 40 chart that would meet the NATO guideline for 120 advance release on the trailer.  Here are some examples:

Movie Title # of Trailer Weeks # of Days To Release
X-Men: Days Of Future Past 12 121
Seventh Son 28 380
How To Train Your Dragon 2 27 142
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes  5 170
Maleficent 10 128
The Box Trolls 27 247
Jupiter Ascending  6 184
 The Expendables 3  5  205
 Interstellar  5  289

We think there is an appetite on the part of movie goers to see trailers this far in advance of a movie’s theatrical release.  If there weren’t, these trailers would not be on our Top 40.  But we also respect NATO’s viewpoint.  The solution is to make teasers trailers available online as soon as possible to start whetting the consumer’s appetite and building awareness for the title.  Then, release the trailer into movie theaters, as well as online, at the 120 day window.