Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Compared to say 2017, when I did not have as much access to a cinema in my freetime, I am not doing as many of these “non-review” posts nowadays. Sure, I’ve done stuff like the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards, but Scene Before has primarily been review-centric as of late. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a nearly impromptu piece based on my recent experience at the movies. I just saw “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and I have done so in a cinema I should probably refer to as “the multiplex of madness.”
I love the movies. The cinema experience made me want to make movies of my own one day, and I am taking whatever steps I can to achieve that dream. In fact, one thing I often look forward to when I am at the movies is when I sit down, I’m on time. Maybe I finish up watching some of the advertising from a source like Front & Center or Noovie or something. After all the ads, we start the preshow, and we see some trailers. In fact, in today’s Internet culture where everything is at your fingertips, we live in a time where sometimes I watch a trailer online, and get excited to potentially see it on the big screen.
My cinema of choice is AMC Theatres, which I went to last Thursday, specifically their Assembly Row 12 location in Somerville, Massachusetts, to go see “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” I shelled out some extra money for the IMAX 3D experience. Not for me, my ticket was free (Thanks, A-List!), but my dad’s ended up costing $21.69. This is a premium experience that offers the biggest screen in the venue, arguably the loudest sound in the venue, and of course, 3D, which is not as much of a craze as it was a few years ago.
So, the trailers start… We get a ton of titles. These are not in any specific order by the way, “Nope,” “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” “Lightyear,” “Bullet Train,” “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” an extended look at “Top Gun: Maverick,” and the teaser for “Avatar: The Way of Water.” That’s right! THE “AVATAR” SEQUELS DO EXIST! That’s eight movies. And I’ll remind you… Not all of them are going to be in IMAX. “Bob’s Burgers” has no evident deal with the IMAX brand at this point to release the film in said format.
It takes a lot for me to lose my patience. Part of me snapped once I realized how long I’ve sitting in my seat just watching ADVERTISEMENTS, not even including all the Noovie stuff! I didn’t snap, because I was frankly excited to finally get to the film. Plus, the last trailer was for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which I was happy to see. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is two hours and six minutes long. The preshow, which included the trailers, the AMC advertising, the IMAX countdown, was probably around half an hour. I’d say so because when I checked my phone at the end of the movie (including credits), whose preshow started at 9:30, it was 12:07, so those ads must have run for around half an hour.
I will also add this… Something happened that night that I have never witnessed before. The trailer for “Bullet Train…” PLAYED TWICE IN THE SAME REEL. It’s a great trailer, but what happened?
This is getting ridiculous. We’re here to watch THE MOVIE.
I mentioned that AMC Theatres is my movie theater of choice, but that’s mainly because it is the biggest bang for my buck. Why? Because I have A-List, which allows me to see three free movies a week in any format. I have gone to experiences where they played six, seven, and eight trailers, and not once have they been as long or tedious as what I just went through.
Sometimes having a lot of trailers is not the worst thing in the world. It gives more time for you to show up to your movie if you are late, if you want to go out and quickly grab food, go to the bathroom, and come back, you can do that and not miss much depending on where and when you see the movie. But when I’m paying a premium price, probably the most I have paid for an individual movie ticket in my life, I am not paying for the trailers! In fact, you could make an argument that for the price I paid, I should be paying for NO TRAILERS! Have you seen streaming models lately? Look at Hulu! You can pay $5.99 per month and get ads, or you can pay $11.99 per month and get no ads. It’s a premium price for a premium experience. I am paying monthly for YouTube Premium right now so I am not getting ads on the site! I never thought I’d say this! And even if it were not a premium price like $21, 9 trailers, including an extended preview and one that plays a second time, is obscene, especially when you consider how much of your time that it takes up. In fact, I would argue that there are theatres that try to take advantage of fewer trailers, but justify the price for it.
Some of you may remember the ArcLight chain, which primarily had cinemas around southern California. They opened a theater in Boston shortly before all their locations closed. A standard 2D show at the ArcLight in Boston right near the TD Garden was $15. Not the lowest price, but when you consider what you are getting, including a maximum of three trailers, a selling point of the ArcLight, it makes the price reasonable.
I get it. Movie trailers are supposed to sell movies. In addition to popcorn, movie theatres are in the business of selling movies, so I get why trailers exist. They are a decent business model for the venue and the studio. I am not saying that movie theatres need to get rid of trailers, but they need to make me feel like I paid to watch a MOVIE, not a barrage of marketing.
If anything, I think six trailers or more is where you start to push things, because trailers are often 2 to 3 minutes each unless it is a teaser. This gives an approximate 10 to 20 minute preshow, and that may or may not include whatever else the theatre tries to sell you. I am not telling theatres to get rid of their ads that partner with Coca-Cola, because if they did, I think that would lessen the chance of Coca-Cola being sold at that theater in the future. But if they made the trailers a reasonable length that did not make me feel like I watched a quarter of the film already, then I would feel like my purchase was justified. We live in a culture where we could look up any trailer we want on YouTube. I do not need AMC reciprocating my search history.
And you know what? It looks like studios are starting to catch on, at least to an extent. Because last week, CinemaCon was held in Las Vegas. During the Paramount presentation where they showed the entirety of “Top Gun: Maverick” to the audience, the domestic distribution chief, Chris Aronson got onstage and suggested that movie theaters should play fewer trailers before the film starts, as stated in this article from Box Office Pro.
“We’re not completely back yet and now is not the time for complacency, It’s not the time for ‘If we just have movies, everything is going to be okay,’ exhibition has to ensure that every facet of the guest experience is the absolute best that it can be. And [studios] have to ensure that we’re delivering content that moviegoers want to see in your theaters. We must work together in every way possible, the way partnerships are supposed to work—sharing data, not selling it—to help us market our movies to your patrons. Playing the right number of trailers and not numbing the audience to the point that the recall rate drops to nil. Ensuring that the price-value ratio is fair and proper. We need to look at our business from different perspectives and experiment in finding ways to increase attendance and revenue.” -Chris Aronson
When a higher-up from a major studio is chiming in on an issue like this suggesting that LESS marketing, potentially from their own movies, needs to be played, that is a sign that the cinemas need to fix this.
But at the same time, Paramount is also the studio behind “Top Gun: Maverick,” and they literally played a 5 or so minute preview of the film on top of all the other trailers I witnessed that same night!
I was talking to someone recently as part of a school project and they said during an interview that one thing they miss because of the pandemic is the movies. Should they ever go back, I can only imagine how’d they react to sit through as many trailers as I did. Not missing it so much now, right?
I’m writing this post as an American, likely for an American audience. Here’s an analogy my American friends can understand. Movie preshows are like baseball games. You can watch a number of innings, experience a thrilling game, perhaps feel satisfied in the end. Trailers, like baseball, can be fun. But if trailers go on for too long, they become the most insufferable, brain-melting, tiring thing on the face of the planet!
So AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Showcase, all the other venues that are probably playing trailer upon trailer right now, please take into consideration that the audience wants to watch the movie they paid to see. And if you are concerned that they are not going to know about “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” of all things, then that’s why standees and posters exist to be displayed around the theater! I should not be watching eight or nine trailers when you need extra time to play the IMAX countdown and a pointless, counterproductive ad where Nicole Kidman reminds everyone that heartbreak feels good in AMC Theatres. No, seriously. That ad makes no sense. Why is an ad reminding you to go to AMC Theatres attached to the end of the preshow when I already entered the theatre?
As they say in the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “if they don’t win, it’s a shame.” Nobody wins with eight or nine trailers. They’re cluttered, long, and for all I know, the audience probably won’t remember all of them. I remember every one I saw because I was angered by all this in the end, but all it did is lessen my chances of returning to AMC. They’re lucky I am not cancelling my A-List because I go to watch and review movies. But if I were not doing Scene Before, I would probably cancel my A-List, maybe choose another theater to commit to. Movie theatres, this is simply put, a shame. Therefore I beg, stop self-indulging, stop overselling, and start playing what I came to see!
I want to ask everyone a couple questions. First off, do you like movie trailers? Second, do you think the movies are playing enough trailers? Too little? If you had to put a number on it, how many trailers would you PREFER to see before a movie? Do you even watch trailers at the theater? Also, how long would you say is the longest preshow you witnessed before going to see a movie? Let me know down below!
Thanks for reading this post! If you are new around here, feel free to check out some of my reviews for movies like “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” “CODA,” and “Morbius.” I have more reviews coming soon. And speaking of Nicole Kidman, I will be reviewing “The Northman” this week! Be sure to check that out when it drops! Evidently, given all that I have talked about, expect a review of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” sometime in the near future. If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!