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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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