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Theater owners propose new guidelines limiting the length and spoiler content of movie trailers

05.29.2013

Working for this website, you get accustomed to watching tons of movie trailers. In fact, we as a society now watch more trailers than movies. When you go to the theater, you are likely going to be watching almost half an hour worth of movie teasers and trailers, some of which give away way too much detail about the movie being advertised. But, that is the way studios market their films these days and not much will change that.

Well, if NATO has their way, it will change. No, not that NATO, I mean the important one: the National Association of Theater Owners. According to The Hollywood Reporter, NATO is proposing new marketing rules that will limit movie trailers to 2 minutes, down from the current maximum of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The 150 second length is currently dictated by the MPAA who also grant studios one trailer a year to run in excess of that length.

NATO also is suggesting that trailers cannot be released longer than four months prior to the release of the film and the trailer must include the release date for the movie. These guidelines would be voluntary but studio executives are worried that they will have negative ramifications. Here are a couple of studio comments from anonymous sources:

"My trailers are 2.5 minutes because that's what we need to send the right message. This could be a paradigm shift. Thirty seconds is a long time," says one studio executive who asked not to be named.

"You can't have one rule that applies to all films, because each film is different in how it needs to be marketed."

I agree with the fact that trailers need to be tightened up, content-wise, to reveal less about the movie.  These are advertisements so they want to show you what will be in the film, but at the same time showing too much ruins the experience for a lot of films.  If you look at the greatest teasers and trailers of all time, the majority of them probably run 2 minutes or less and create a feeling of atmosphere rather than show you everything in the movie.

It remains to be seen if these new rules will actually be adopted.  Either way, something needs to be done to make them more appealing and share less spoilers. As for the studio sources worried that two minutes is not enough time to "sell" a movie to audiences, I submit the following:

One minute, thirty seconds.

One minute, twelve seconds

One minute, fifty-two seconds

One minute, twenty-nine seconds

I rest my case.

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2:00PM on 06/01/2013
AGREED with cutting trailer runtime down to 2 minutes.
DISAGREED with teaser/trailer not allowed to come out more than 4 months prior to the release and has to include the release date for the movie. I like seeing teaser a year in advance for big movies (sci-fi, superheroes etc). Remember Nolan's Inception? And leaving out release date will make people do research about the film if the teaser is awesome.

And I'm not buying NATO actually doing this for the audience. Less runtime for each
AGREED with cutting trailer runtime down to 2 minutes.
DISAGREED with teaser/trailer not allowed to come out more than 4 months prior to the release and has to include the release date for the movie. I like seeing teaser a year in advance for big movies (sci-fi, superheroes etc). Remember Nolan's Inception? And leaving out release date will make people do research about the film if the teaser is awesome.

And I'm not buying NATO actually doing this for the audience. Less runtime for each ad/trailer = more money for theaters..
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1:17AM on 05/31/2013

TRAILERS ARE THE WORST NOW!

While theatre owners will gain more chance to increase adverts I am also completely against the spoiler filled trailers. Usually the teasers have more of an impact (unless they get lazy with logo's only) than a full fledge trailer. Best argument is the Mission Impossible movies. I love the teasers but when it came to the trailer it gave away the surprises ahead! The biggest problem in theatres now are the distracted viewers who on their phones or talking like no one else around. Watching Star
While theatre owners will gain more chance to increase adverts I am also completely against the spoiler filled trailers. Usually the teasers have more of an impact (unless they get lazy with logo's only) than a full fledge trailer. Best argument is the Mission Impossible movies. I love the teasers but when it came to the trailer it gave away the surprises ahead! The biggest problem in theatres now are the distracted viewers who on their phones or talking like no one else around. Watching Star Trek Into Darkness I asked them to get out if they can't allow us to watch the film in peace but by that time the movie was nearing the end.
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+4
3:19PM on 05/30/2013

Thanks NATO for starting something

I know I've been writing about it a lot but I think this is one discussion we should have, concerning the film industry.

In my opinion? Of course they're too long. It's not even that they give away the majority of the story but also all of the most spectacular sequences. I stopped watching them 2 years ago and the past two years were some of the better movie going experiences I had. I was finally at awe of what I'm seeing on screen. Sure I had to close my eyes during the trailers but
I know I've been writing about it a lot but I think this is one discussion we should have, concerning the film industry.

In my opinion? Of course they're too long. It's not even that they give away the majority of the story but also all of the most spectacular sequences. I stopped watching them 2 years ago and the past two years were some of the better movie going experiences I had. I was finally at awe of what I'm seeing on screen. Sure I had to close my eyes during the trailers but looking ridiculous in the process is a small amount to pay for being pleasantly surprised in the cinema. That being said I wish I wasn't forced to look this stupid and that I could actually watch the trailers that amp up my anticipation levels, not spoil all the fun. Heck, they could even keep the 2.5 minute mark, if they used some creativity, shot some scenes all for the trailer that would give you the gist of the tone of the movie and still kept the mystery.

What's more, if you're certain that you're going to see, let's say The Man of Steel or Pacific Rim, which I'm sure most of you are, than why spoil yourself the fun by watching sneak peaks of films that are supposed to amaze you with sequences of grandeur.

Also, the trailer's length is not the only problem but the amount of them. They now have what feels like 10 trailers for every blockbuster. You're doomed to feel dissapointed in the theatre if you've seen all of them before the movie, all of the greatest highlights.
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+7
1:27PM on 05/30/2013
In my theater I've only see the first Man of Steel trailer. On Joblo there have been already been six trailers, a dozen featurettes and hundreds of images. So who's spoiling what now?
In my theater I've only see the first Man of Steel trailer. On Joblo there have been already been six trailers, a dozen featurettes and hundreds of images. So who's spoiling what now?
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8:36AM on 05/30/2013

Would be nice if they could get this to happen

and i think the studios themselves are trying to make trailers more this way anyways (like man of steel, they have done a great job of getting people excited without giving a lot away) so hopefully they will continue this trend
and i think the studios themselves are trying to make trailers more this way anyways (like man of steel, they have done a great job of getting people excited without giving a lot away) so hopefully they will continue this trend
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8:35AM on 05/30/2013
I've never notice or had any problems with trailers in the theater being too long, only the ones on the internet. But I would much rather watch trailers than those fucking commercials they play before the trailers. I can not stand them. I go to the movies thinking I've dodge tv ads, yet they've found their way into AMC theaters. So they need to get rid of them instead of decreasing trailer length. I actually like watching trailers, especially if it's one I haven't seen before. Additionally,
I've never notice or had any problems with trailers in the theater being too long, only the ones on the internet. But I would much rather watch trailers than those fucking commercials they play before the trailers. I can not stand them. I go to the movies thinking I've dodge tv ads, yet they've found their way into AMC theaters. So they need to get rid of them instead of decreasing trailer length. I actually like watching trailers, especially if it's one I haven't seen before. Additionally, trailers can save you from missing the beginning of a movie if you make it to the theater late. But my guess is, they want to decrease trailers so they can add more commercials.
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8:26AM on 05/30/2013

It won't change a thing, I'm afraid...

YES, trailers are usually spoilerish (imagine how better would have been seeing Oblivion, without that fucking ' let's tell you everything ' trailer ?!)... And, because people go less and less in theatres to see movie (more and more expensive), they want to KNOW what the film is about. So the trailers will tell more and more of the story, use more and more spoiler money shots (the car crashing through the plane in the F&F 6 trailer, anyone)... Whatever you (or J.J. Abrams) want it or
YES, trailers are usually spoilerish (imagine how better would have been seeing Oblivion, without that fucking ' let's tell you everything ' trailer ?!)... And, because people go less and less in theatres to see movie (more and more expensive), they want to KNOW what the film is about. So the trailers will tell more and more of the story, use more and more spoiler money shots (the car crashing through the plane in the F&F 6 trailer, anyone)... Whatever you (or J.J. Abrams) want it or not.
Think about it: even a 'small' $20M movie needs to make A LEAST $50M or so to break even... So Studios will make WHATEVER they can to bring people in theatres! PERIOD !
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6:43AM on 05/30/2013

Only a partial solution...

Besides trailers showing too much, there are the releases of "clips" all over the web too. By my count no less than 6 clips of Star Trek into Darkness appeared on JoBlo alone. These are just as spoiler-ific as a trailer, but at least I don't HAVE to watch them in a theater the way I do with trailers.

Also, this will only work if every studio does it, so it's good that it's coming from NATO, otherwise we'd see non-compliance all over the place.
Besides trailers showing too much, there are the releases of "clips" all over the web too. By my count no less than 6 clips of Star Trek into Darkness appeared on JoBlo alone. These are just as spoiler-ific as a trailer, but at least I don't HAVE to watch them in a theater the way I do with trailers.

Also, this will only work if every studio does it, so it's good that it's coming from NATO, otherwise we'd see non-compliance all over the place.
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8:26AM on 05/30/2013
I used to love watching trailers and teasers. Nowadays I just avoid them altogether and just watch the actual movies.
I used to love watching trailers and teasers. Nowadays I just avoid them altogether and just watch the actual movies.
8:49AM on 05/30/2013
I pretty much do the same, Netforce. However I apply it only to films that I'm really anxious to see. If I'm on the fence about a movie, then I'll watch 2 or 3 different trailers for it. But something like, Man of Steel, I've only seen half of the official trailer.
I pretty much do the same, Netforce. However I apply it only to films that I'm really anxious to see. If I'm on the fence about a movie, then I'll watch 2 or 3 different trailers for it. But something like, Man of Steel, I've only seen half of the official trailer.
12:51AM on 05/30/2013

Finally after 2yrs of bitchin...

Someone finally fuckin listens to me. Took long enough. It's been so stupid and crazy how long these trailers run and how much of the movie they show. Granted some of the movies I don't mind seeing trailers for. But for horror movies it ruins the whole movie for me.
Someone finally fuckin listens to me. Took long enough. It's been so stupid and crazy how long these trailers run and how much of the movie they show. Granted some of the movies I don't mind seeing trailers for. But for horror movies it ruins the whole movie for me.
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9:04PM on 05/29/2013
This is bullshit. These rules are motivated purely by money, and not to stop spoilers. The shorter the trailer, the more advertisement space that can be sold. A theater will make more money with 3 one minute trailers than with 1 three minute trailer.

Sure it is easy to point out some great short trailers, but there are also great 2-3 minute trailers. Just because something can advertise itself in thirty seconds doesn't mean everything can or should.
This is bullshit. These rules are motivated purely by money, and not to stop spoilers. The shorter the trailer, the more advertisement space that can be sold. A theater will make more money with 3 one minute trailers than with 1 three minute trailer.

Sure it is easy to point out some great short trailers, but there are also great 2-3 minute trailers. Just because something can advertise itself in thirty seconds doesn't mean everything can or should.
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9:27PM on 05/29/2013
do theaters actually get a cut for showing movie trailers? i thought the studios put them in before their features. i've seen theaters sell ad space for the time before the trailers, but once the trailers begin, the ads are over. having more short trailers would actually cut down on the time other businesses can sell ad time, because they have to keep showing that green screen with the rating over and over and over again.
do theaters actually get a cut for showing movie trailers? i thought the studios put them in before their features. i've seen theaters sell ad space for the time before the trailers, but once the trailers begin, the ads are over. having more short trailers would actually cut down on the time other businesses can sell ad time, because they have to keep showing that green screen with the rating over and over and over again.
9:31PM on 05/29/2013
It's clearly not for money reasons or else they would be willing to show longer more excited trailers which will ultimately be bringing that very audience watching it back into the theater
It's clearly not for money reasons or else they would be willing to show longer more excited trailers which will ultimately be bringing that very audience watching it back into the theater
+5
8:49PM on 05/29/2013
Why don't they stop wasting energy on this non-problem, and redirect it toward the real problem: Cell phone flashers.
No theater has received a drop of my money for two years, and they never will again unless they do something about cell phones.
Why don't they stop wasting energy on this non-problem, and redirect it toward the real problem: Cell phone flashers.
No theater has received a drop of my money for two years, and they never will again unless they do something about cell phones.
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9:17PM on 05/29/2013
Like I said below, Ejector Seats, hehe.
Like I said below, Ejector Seats, hehe.
+10
8:34PM on 05/29/2013
I'm a trailer whore. I love my trailers and I watch every trailer for a movie that I want to see. I can't help myself. But when time comes to watch said movie I've seen it all coz they DO show too much. I'm my own worst enemy. They really do need to cut the trailer length back and just give us a taste and a feel for the films and not the whole plot etc. one trailer and one or two posters and that's it. Omg what will I do with all this extra time I have if they do. Gulp.
I'm a trailer whore. I love my trailers and I watch every trailer for a movie that I want to see. I can't help myself. But when time comes to watch said movie I've seen it all coz they DO show too much. I'm my own worst enemy. They really do need to cut the trailer length back and just give us a taste and a feel for the films and not the whole plot etc. one trailer and one or two posters and that's it. Omg what will I do with all this extra time I have if they do. Gulp.
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+15
7:41PM on 05/29/2013
Forget the trailer and teaser, there should be ejector seats at the movies. If you talk during the movie, you will be ejected. If you use your cellphone during the movie, you'll be ejected. No more annoyance at the movies.
Forget the trailer and teaser, there should be ejector seats at the movies. If you talk during the movie, you will be ejected. If you use your cellphone during the movie, you'll be ejected. No more annoyance at the movies.
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9:36PM on 05/29/2013
or you know, you could just ignore them.
or you know, you could just ignore them.
6:46AM on 05/30/2013
Yes, like we can just "ignore" folks smoking at a table next to us. Or "ignore" the guy who farts next to me in the theater. WTF are you talking about? Humans aren't able to just ignore extraneous audio and video stimulation in a situation like a movie theater.
Yes, like we can just "ignore" folks smoking at a table next to us. Or "ignore" the guy who farts next to me in the theater. WTF are you talking about? Humans aren't able to just ignore extraneous audio and video stimulation in a situation like a movie theater.
8:23AM on 05/30/2013
Well honestly I can't ignore them as they somehow enter the corner of my eyes.
Well honestly I can't ignore them as they somehow enter the corner of my eyes.
7:37PM on 05/29/2013

No

People should be able to make whatever trailer they want.
People should be able to make whatever trailer they want.
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+2
7:31PM on 05/29/2013
Sometimes the movie is such a piece of crap the studios can't help but put all the best parts in the trailer. I mean how else are they going to trick you into shelling out $15.00 (plus) a person to see a piece of shit on the big screen....in 3D....and IMAX....and.....
Sometimes the movie is such a piece of crap the studios can't help but put all the best parts in the trailer. I mean how else are they going to trick you into shelling out $15.00 (plus) a person to see a piece of shit on the big screen....in 3D....and IMAX....and.....
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7:16PM on 05/29/2013
The studios should welcome some of these changes, given it may actually help the positive attitudes about the film ruined by trailers out 10 months prior, that show all the money shots and even spoil whole story arcs or moments, and people who complain about having to sit for 20 mins or so watching trailers won't have as much to worry about. Then again, studios will just fit another 1 or 2 trailers in that empty gap, making it seem longer. Doesn't matter, nothing will actually be done or change
The studios should welcome some of these changes, given it may actually help the positive attitudes about the film ruined by trailers out 10 months prior, that show all the money shots and even spoil whole story arcs or moments, and people who complain about having to sit for 20 mins or so watching trailers won't have as much to worry about. Then again, studios will just fit another 1 or 2 trailers in that empty gap, making it seem longer. Doesn't matter, nothing will actually be done or change anyway. What is NATO gonna do, boycott studios? Please, this is just a PR stunt to show that your local movie theatre cares.
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7:13PM on 05/29/2013

I like the idea of all this..

...especially about having trailers spoil too much of the movie.
But what I would REALLY like to happen is to have the trailers actually be similar in tone to the actual movie they're supposed to be getting people interested in.
I can think of two big examples to better explain what I mean in case I'm not making sense.
Remember the woman who wanted to sue someone because DRIVE wasn't enough like FAST AND THE FURIOUS? That's what I mean. I wasn't very interested in seeing DRIVE based on the
...especially about having trailers spoil too much of the movie.
But what I would REALLY like to happen is to have the trailers actually be similar in tone to the actual movie they're supposed to be getting people interested in.
I can think of two big examples to better explain what I mean in case I'm not making sense.
Remember the woman who wanted to sue someone because DRIVE wasn't enough like FAST AND THE FURIOUS? That's what I mean. I wasn't very interested in seeing DRIVE based on the trailer because I thought it looked too much like F&tF too. Those aren't really my thing so I thought I'd skip it. I eventually saw DRIVE and it couldn't have been more more different than how the trailers depicted it.
The other big example is ADVENTURELAND. The trailers made a big deal out pointing out it was by the same director of SUPERBAD, so that's the type of movie I and I'm sure many other people expected. Again, it was a very different movie and I'm sure a lot of people were annoyed and angry about that. (I still really like that movie, and was pleasantly surprised at how different it was when I saw it.)
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9:33PM on 05/29/2013
studios should make the film's director and editor cut together one trailer for every movie.
studios should make the film's director and editor cut together one trailer for every movie.
7:06PM on 05/29/2013

Screw it

Now I want 5 minute long trailers with all the money shots.
Don't tell me what to do.
Now I want 5 minute long trailers with all the money shots.
Don't tell me what to do.
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6:30PM on 05/29/2013
I doubt anything will come of this.
Besides the 4 month rule would be unenforceable, what about teaser-trailers.
I doubt anything will come of this.
Besides the 4 month rule would be unenforceable, what about teaser-trailers.
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6:29PM on 05/29/2013
Its about DAMN time.
Its about DAMN time.
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6:15PM on 05/29/2013

All you need...

...2 minutes and an awesome voice-over: [link]

Sold!
...2 minutes and an awesome voice-over: [link]

Sold!
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12:38AM on 05/30/2013
The teaser is better.
The teaser is better.
6:10PM on 05/29/2013
Awesome! I'm guilty for overdosing on trailers on Apple TV and online. But this would be awesome
Awesome! I'm guilty for overdosing on trailers on Apple TV and online. But this would be awesome
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+3
6:00PM on 05/29/2013

there's already been a paradigm shift.

we now consume more trailers online than in the theaters. i say fine, make two sets of trailers. one "officially certified" trailer to be shown in the theaters and follows the guidelines, and as many "unofficial" trailers that the studio wants to be put online. the trailers that go online can be as long and spoilery as the studio wants because it's not forced on anyone. it's the consumers decision to click "play". i guess TV spots would be a third category.
we now consume more trailers online than in the theaters. i say fine, make two sets of trailers. one "officially certified" trailer to be shown in the theaters and follows the guidelines, and as many "unofficial" trailers that the studio wants to be put online. the trailers that go online can be as long and spoilery as the studio wants because it's not forced on anyone. it's the consumers decision to click "play". i guess TV spots would be a third category.
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5:50PM on 05/29/2013
While you're at it, let's try and cut down on the number of trailers that get shown each showing!
While you're at it, let's try and cut down on the number of trailers that get shown each showing!
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5:44PM on 05/29/2013
Its about DAMN time.
Its about DAMN time.
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5:42PM on 05/29/2013

Great ideas

I go to the movies A LOT.. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the World War Z trailer or The GI Joe 2 trailer which ran for like a whole year. 4 months is a good limit for 2 minute trailers. I think they should allow a 20 second or so teaser a year in advance. I just get so tired of seeing the same trailers over and over. Especially spoiler heavy trailers.
I go to the movies A LOT.. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the World War Z trailer or The GI Joe 2 trailer which ran for like a whole year. 4 months is a good limit for 2 minute trailers. I think they should allow a 20 second or so teaser a year in advance. I just get so tired of seeing the same trailers over and over. Especially spoiler heavy trailers.
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+5
5:21PM on 05/29/2013
With few exceptions I limit myself to the teaser or first trailer.

4 months trailer to film doesn't sound like a bad idea either, considering all the marketing that floods the internet before that for major films. But this is debatable. Also, do teaser trailer count? If so, the 4 months mandate is fine by me.

EDIT: What about just making ONE trailer for a film. Here, this is the trailer... THE trailer for this film, it represents the film as best as possible. We're getting 2, 3, 4, 5, or
With few exceptions I limit myself to the teaser or first trailer.

4 months trailer to film doesn't sound like a bad idea either, considering all the marketing that floods the internet before that for major films. But this is debatable. Also, do teaser trailer count? If so, the 4 months mandate is fine by me.

EDIT: What about just making ONE trailer for a film. Here, this is the trailer... THE trailer for this film, it represents the film as best as possible. We're getting 2, 3, 4, 5, or more trailers for movies. Granted they're often variations on the first trailer, but they keep adding new footage. Add it all up and you've seen 75% of the movie.
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6:53PM on 05/29/2013
I like the ONE trailer for a movie idea. if only.
I like the ONE trailer for a movie idea. if only.
8:13AM on 05/30/2013
Not a bad idea, but, in this case, what trailer would you choose for Man Of Steel ? Action or meaningful ?
Not a bad idea, but, in this case, what trailer would you choose for Man Of Steel ? Action or meaningful ?
5:16PM on 05/29/2013
I like to think of movie trailers as cleavage. Show to much, and it ruins the surprise. Show just enough and I'll pay to see more.
I like to think of movie trailers as cleavage. Show to much, and it ruins the surprise. Show just enough and I'll pay to see more.
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5:15PM on 05/29/2013
A studio executive who is unable to find an editor that can cut a 2 minute trailer of a film needs to get the fuck out of the movie business anyway.
A studio executive who is unable to find an editor that can cut a 2 minute trailer of a film needs to get the fuck out of the movie business anyway.
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5:07PM on 05/29/2013

Yes, but...

How about no images or dialogue from the third act?
How about no images or dialogue from the third act?
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5:01PM on 05/29/2013
I was kind of agreeing up till the point where they said no trailers until 4 months before the release date, that's dumb.
I was kind of agreeing up till the point where they said no trailers until 4 months before the release date, that's dumb.
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