Green band trailer card

A well crafted trailer for a highly anticipated picture is a thing of beauty, but there are lots of ways trailers can annoy as well. They might be sloppily edited or downright misleading. They can show too much of the movie, or feature too many scenes that aren’t in the film at all. They can be time-consuming hurdles to the features we’ve actually paid to see.

The National Association of Theater Owners has heard consumers’ complaints about these promos, and wants to rectify at least some of them. Their grand plan? Whittle the trailers down to just two minutes each, from the current standard of two and a half. More details after the jump.

Currently, studios follow voluntary guidelines established by the MPAA that keep most trailers to 2.5 minutes, with one exception per studio per year. However, NATO wants to shave that down because, exhibitors say, audiences are complaining that trailers are too long and give away too much of the plot.

The former makes some sense. The difference between two minutes and two minutes and thirty seconds isn’t much if you’re watching just one trailer, but when seven or eight are stacked together that time adds up. Of course, cutting the trailer won’t solve that issue if movie theaters just use the shorter running times to show even more trailers before films, as studios fear.

The connection between spoilers and trailer length seems more tenuous. It’s possible to cut a two-minute trailer that reveals the ending, just as it’s possible to cut a three-minute version that doesn’t. It’d make more sense for studios to just stop releasing trailers that include scenes from the climax of the movie, as some in France have apparently done.

In addition to the quibble over trailer length, NATO is also considering new guidelines that prevent movies from being marketed more than four months before their release dates (with some exceptions), and that require all promos to include a movie’s release date. Not surprisingly, studios have “reacted none too well” to these proposals. While all of these rules would technically be voluntary, studios worry that theaters could refuse to show certain marketing materials if they don’t fit the standards.

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