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May 5, 2010 3:59 AM   Subscribe

Don't like those commercials that run before the movies in the theaters? Well, this weekend, Kraft Foods is introducing something new to screens across the U.S., "two- to three-minute branded-entertainment vignettes" that promise NOT to "knock you over the head with a bat as a brand commercial", but instead they... well... here's an example: Lunchables kids' meals present: Alien Field Trip* (Warning: more artificially cheesy than Cheez Whiz). Kraft and other big advertisers are betting that long-form ads will be "the Wave of the Future", and the perfect audience for them will be the folks who have already paid to see "Iron Man 2", "Sex and the City 2" or "Toy Story 3". What could possibly go wrong?

*For those of you who don't want to sit through the 3 minute video, "Alien Field Trip" is a stunt in which a class of kids on a field trip to a 'space center' are introduced to real live aliens from another planet (NOT), ending with a 15-second plug for an Oscar Mayer-sponsored "50 field trips" sweepstakes.
posted by oneswellfoop (74 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
What could possibly go wrong?

Other than the festering discontent and hate at having to watch ads after I have paid to see a movie?
posted by pjern at 4:03 AM on May 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


Amazing. And the movie industry wonders why it has so many empty seats, preferring to blame "piracy" to simply having a worse product than I can get at home.

Modern theaters have exactly one perk over my home theater - Sound. Make no mistake, a 7.1 system sounds just wonderful, but I have yet to see a home system with a true LFE channel (no, subwoofer just doesn't do it).

But everything else? I have a screen with the same angular size, the ability to pause mid-movie for a bathroom break, far cheaper snacks, I can have alcoholic beverages.

And perhaps most importantly, I can skip all the damned commercials.
posted by pla at 4:13 AM on May 5, 2010 [18 favorites]


Yet another film using the "let's make everything either blue or orange!" color cast. That shit's in ads now, too?
posted by emelenjr at 4:16 AM on May 5, 2010


Okay, I watched the first 30 seconds. I don't think for a minute that a single one of those kids believed that was a real alien. Ugh. I had to turn it off it was so annoying. I literally couldn't keep going.
posted by delmoi at 4:19 AM on May 5, 2010


Can't they just like, put Lunchables urinal cakes in the restroom that I have to pee on or something?
posted by orme at 4:21 AM on May 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yet another reason to give up on movie theaters, watch movies at home after stripping off all the garbage that DVDs ship with. How I loathe commercials...
posted by dancestoblue at 4:21 AM on May 5, 2010


pla, the worst bit is that a lot of DVDs don't let you skip ads, trailers, copyright warnings, etc. Pirated copies of the same, however...
posted by Dysk at 4:26 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


My Iron Man Lunchables Pre-Movie Commercial:

Open on Iron Man in full armor sitting at a table smashing delicious cheese and crackers with bits of ham into the closed mask of his helmet. This lasts at least 5 minutes, complete with electro-distorted lip-smacking gobbling noises filling the theater in Dolby surround sound, despite the fact that the cracker debris is just falling in a cheesy pile on the table.

Pepper Potts enters and cries, "Tony! Why are you still here! Whiplash is robbing a bank! People need you!"

"Luunnnccchhabblless," moans Iron Man.

"Tony! This is not funny! You're not even getting any Lunchables in your mouth!" Pepper advances on Iron Man and tries to take his snacks away.

"LUNCHABLES!" screams Iron Man, recoiling and knocking over the table. A wayward fist sends Pepper slamming into a wall. She falls, still.

"LUNCHABLES!" he cries again, kneeling over the pile of fallen food. Back to the camera, Iron Man hunches over, popping open his mask before cramming handfuls of crackers, cheese, ham, and packaging into his mouth.

"LUNCHABLES!" Tony Stark moans through a full gullet.

Cut to a shot of just Tony's face, his eyes bloodshot, his skin sallow and sweaty. "LUNCHABLES!!!" he yells to the camera, flecks of food falling from his mouth.

"LUNCHABLES!!!" he shouts again, right before cheese product begins to pour from his open maw, a river of Cheeze Whiz that lasts for at least a minute.

Then the screen cuts to black.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:26 AM on May 5, 2010 [98 favorites]


It's not just that I paid for it, it's that I paid a premium for it. Commercials on DVDs and VHS? Yeah okay. But when I shell out 2 or 3 times as much for the theater or for BluRay, I shouldn't have to deal with that crap.

My biggest pet peeve along these lines so far is the ad at the beginning of the Hurt Locker for some shitty teenage gorror flick. My only consolation is the humiliation of some future producer showing off the film for having associated themselves with such trash. Every shriek of every child at seeing that hideousness will be his to cherish forever. Every babe that weeps at those previews, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing," will echo in his perfect home theater. Payback for my BluRay's grisly mayhem means he must be left in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever.
posted by thesmophoron at 4:33 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flunky: Sir, revenue is dropping!
Boss: What?! Why?
Flunky: Fewer people are watching movies because of the nonsense they have to put up with.
Boss: We have to figure out some way to fix this and fast.
Flunky: *to self* finally, some sanity
Boss: I know, we'll make it up on volume. Cram some more ads in there!
posted by DU at 4:34 AM on May 5, 2010


I witnessed something unpleasant in a cinema this weekend. Following the trailer for the A-team movie (quite entertaining in itself) there was an advert for mobile phones, featuring all the key actors, on set, making stupid jokes about mobile phones in a very fake "outtakes" style. Just awful.
posted by Major Tom at 4:36 AM on May 5, 2010


Sitting in the theater last week, I realized it had been nearly a year since I had gone out to see a movie. At first, I considered that my wife and I had simply been busy. Then, that there have not been very many appealing movies. But at length, squeezed in between two obnoxious cliques of teens and hammered with successive batteries of outright commercials, MovieTicket.com pitches, and then trailers for insufferably bad motion pictures—such that the movie didn't start until fifteen minutes after its stated curtain—I understood that going out to see a movie has marginal utility.

I have a large, hi-def TV and surround sound system at home. I have comfortable seating. Snacks are free. Only yo-yos I have personally invited are present. And, dare I say it, one even has access to new releases from home these days.

There is little compelling in the movie theater these days. I'm sure the new 3D trend is relevant to this. However, with Sony's latest PS3 update readying the console for 3D, even this execrable fad won't be exclusive to theaters for long.

The theater's screen is bigger and its sound thumpier. But it also goes out of its way to detract from my experience. And, all told, for $30 for two. No wonder I prefer to stay home.
posted by adoarns at 4:36 AM on May 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


HEY KIDS- Like fake crap? Here's a fake alien. Like it? Good. Believe it? Good. Now here's a fake lunch. Like it? Good.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:38 AM on May 5, 2010 [17 favorites]


Now here's a fake lunch. Like it? Good.

Oh man, no kidding. I was already prepared to hate "branded-entertainment vignettes" but when I got to the word "lunchables" I was just.
posted by DU at 4:45 AM on May 5, 2010


I still like seeing movies in the theater but the movie industry really does its best to discourage that. Well them and the idiot movie goers who can't stop texting for two whole hours during a movie.

I went to EbertFest a few weeks ago and despite the horribly uncomfortable seats, the moving going experience was amazing. No trailers or ad before the movies. Selected shorts before the movies. Little talking or texting during the movies. No little kids crying. No hearing the loud movie from the theater next door during quiet scenes. I'd almost forgotten what going to the movies could be like.
posted by octothorpe at 4:49 AM on May 5, 2010


Don't like those commercials that run before the movies in the theaters?

Thing is, I actually do like them. (Hate 'em on TV, though.) I like the increasing artiness of many ads, but I don't want them to start pretending not to be ads at all.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:49 AM on May 5, 2010


Brother Dysk : the worst bit is that a lot of DVDs don't let you skip ads, trailers, copyright warnings, etc. Pirated copies of the same, however...

Not just "pirated" copied - Regardless of the MPAA's stance on such things, you have every right to rip your own movies to HDD. I don't think I've watched a movie directly from DVD imn years.


adoarns : There is little compelling in the movie theater these days. I'm sure the new 3D trend is relevant to this. However, with Sony's latest PS3 update readying the console for 3D, even this execrable fad won't be exclusive to theaters for long.

Yeah, you can already get home 3d TVs (though I don't happen to know of any home 3d projectors yet). That said, though, I really dislike 3d movies, from what I've seen of them so far. Perhaps in another year or so I'll take in another and see if they've improved, but I found it far more distracting than helpful as currently implemented.
posted by pla at 4:56 AM on May 5, 2010


Every time I go to see a movie, I am reminded of a castle, in that I must penetrate several rings of concentric advertising to actually get to the movie.

First, I drive into the parking lot. Before I even get to the door, whether coming from the left or the right, I see movie posters. Lots of movie posters, four to six on either side.

Then I buy the ticket. Sometimes the ticket advertises helpful "deals" on concessions. If not, I am sure to have window clingfilms of various Pixar entities in my face while trying to make contact with the person behind the glass.

Into the lobby. Giant cardboard figures loom, looking like irradiated monster cousins of their clingfilm bretheren. Televisions hang from the ceiling, blaring out that damned fireflies song. I must walk by one concession stand to get to the movie, possibly two. In those hallways are even more movie posters.

At last, I am seated before a screen. And here come the slides — the terrible graphic design and poor photography inherent to local businesses. Some bland pop, devoid of genre, plays from above, or perhaps a recent entry in the spiritless "soul" category, with an announcer letting me know "That was [SOME DUDE YOU WILL NEVER HEAR FROM AGAIN] with his latest hit, '[NOT APPEARING ON THE RADIO]'." I would buy the single if it came with a lobotomy.

If this is during the evenings, the manager might appear before the previews get underway, requesting that we buy a gold heart for charity. I have no idea if this is a local custom or not, but I find it bizarre.

Next come previews for movies I will almost never see, which are interspersed with commercials for products I will never buy, and, disturbingly, a growing number of exhortations to join the Armed Forces.

Finally, the movie ... which will have product placement.

And they wonder why attendance is down.
posted by adipocere at 5:01 AM on May 5, 2010 [29 favorites]


pla, with a good internet connection, and a computer that hasn't really seen any upgrades for a good few years now, I actually find it faster and easier to torrent a film than rip it from a DVD.
posted by Dysk at 5:05 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shit. Those kids looked more excited by the idea of being in a damned television commercial than they did about meeting an alien. Not disappointed that they'd been lied to for the sake of corporate profit. Just happy to be part of the scam.

It's people. Lunchables are made out of people. Listen to me, you gotta tell 'em! Lunchables are people!
posted by pracowity at 5:13 AM on May 5, 2010


I have to admit that i didn't think anyone was buying it for a moment, the aliens looked very fake, however , when the lady yelled "I don't even work here" i laughed more than i probably should have.
posted by djduckie at 5:27 AM on May 5, 2010


I work part-time at an independent single-screen cinema in North London, UK which is run as a non-profit. It's actually one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas in the country. We play foreign language and non-mainstream films. There are two kinds of things that play before a film starts - ads and trailers.

Trailers are extremely important for educating our audience on what films are coming up in the near future. We only survive because of a repeat local audience, and building their anticipation for upcoming screenings helps to ensure that.

Ads are a different matter. They're for the money, pure and simple. They used to provide a significant portion of our income, but now that figure's been dropping as the industry goes through some... changes. In any case, we can't afford to drop the ad reel. It's sent to us as a pre-packaged reel, and we have absolutely no say over what it contains. The ads are often completely inappropriate for our audience. I'm reminded of the ridiculously loud Guitar Hero: Metallica ad that played before something like Glorious 39. There's a "celeb gossip" style show that plays, promoting films like Iron Man and Kick Ass when people have come to see I Am Love or Dogtooth. A bit off target.

For those complaining that cinemas are raking it in, you'd be surprised at how little this sort of operation actually makes. About 80% of our income is from ticket sales, about 10% from venue hires and most of the rest is from food and sundries. A varying percentage of ticket sales, usually above 30% but below 50%, goes to the distributor.

The rest then has to pay for all the costs of the cinema, just like any other business. These include things like: Luckily, we own the building, so there are no mortgage or rent payments. If there were, we probably wouldn't be able to survive. Regular income from things like the ads really helps with cashflow, so it's an important part of the business.
posted by Magnakai at 5:28 AM on May 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


If those kids believed there was a living alien in front of them, at least one would be screaming their damn head off. Those kids were in on it, possibly actors.
posted by piratebowling at 5:33 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brother Dysk: the worst bit is that a lot of DVDs don't let you skip ads, trailers, copyright warnings, etc.

We got a PS3 recently so we joined LoveFilm (like a UK Netflix) to rent HD movies. Most of them have been surprisingly and pleasingly free of mandatory advertising, but one disc wouldn't let you get to the film without showing you an unskippable, six-minute advert for a Michael Jackson memorial DVD. Six minutes of crap you can't avoid is not exactly what you want to see when you've plonked a hot dinner down in front of the telly; I'm not sure annoyance is the emotion they want associated with their amazing product.

now we stick the discs in as soon as we get them, let them play for a while with the screen off, then restart playback at the beginning of the film and eject, so when we actually come to watch it we can use the continue function and avoid all adverts. nice one, michael jackson guys, you just made all blue ray adverts pointless on us
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Other than the festering discontent and hate at having to watch ads after I have paid to see a movie?

Personally, I loathe the fact we have to sit through 20+ minutes of ads at the movies but just for argument's sake, let's say you pay for basic cable channels. You expect ads there, no?
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:35 AM on May 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


While the majority of pre-film ads are shit, the Orange* "Don't let mobile phones spoil your movie" spoof ads that play here in the UK are actually pretty funny.

*mobile phone network
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:43 AM on May 5, 2010


Whoops, meant to include this link.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:46 AM on May 5, 2010


let's say you pay for basic cable channels. You expect ads there, no?

Except at home you can press mute, make a sandwich, pee, check your mail, do what you like until someone notices that the ads are finished and the lion is roaring. They don't own you when you're at home the way they own you when you're at the movies.

But assume those ads are keeping prices down. How much would movies cost without the damned ads? Are you willing to pay that much to see movies without the ads?
posted by pracowity at 5:49 AM on May 5, 2010


Trailers are extremely important for educating our audience on what films are coming up in the near future. We only survive because of a repeat local audience, and building their anticipation for upcoming screenings helps to ensure that.

I would find this a lot less repugnant if you didn't pretend that advertising was "education".
posted by DU at 5:50 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those complaining that cinemas are raking it in...

For my part, I wouldn't complain that cinemas are making excessive profits and I am very sympathetic to cinema owners who are worried about lower attendance.

However, the increasing length of advertising reels before movies does put me off. Nowadays, I actually try to arrive at the cinema late because I know that there will be anything up to 30 minutes of adverts before the film starts. I just assume that a film scheduled to start at 12:00 will actually start at 12:20 or so.

That, combined with ever increasing prices, has made going to the cinema simply not worth the money. In England, despite trailers, adverts and yahoos in the theatre, I might go to the cinema if it cost £3 or £4 a ticket. £10 a ticket? Forget it.

(Of course, it may well be that no cinema could function with tickets at that low a price - but for me and, I suspect, for many, the experience that cinema offers just isn't worth the money).
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:52 AM on May 5, 2010


Hah.. .did they get those props from Star Trek? They look exactly like the ones used in the lab where Data and Lore were built.
posted by odinsdream at 6:11 AM on May 5, 2010


Regular income from things like the ads really helps with cash flow, so it's an important part of the business.

Right, but if you drive away all of your customers by forcing them to sit through ads after they've paid to see a movie, you won't have much cash flow either.
posted by octothorpe at 6:17 AM on May 5, 2010


pla, the worst bit is that a lot of DVDs don't let you skip ads, trailers, copyright warnings, etc. Pirated copies of the same, however...
posted by Brother Dysk at 4:26 AM on May 5 [+] [!]


Supposedly you can skip the mandatory trailers, etc by pressing on your remote: stop, stop, play. (per cnet)
posted by neda at 6:20 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just confused about what the pitch here is: Kids meet aliens. Kids are informed the aliens are fake. LUNCHABLES!!!

Is the takeaway supposed to be "Lunchables, the Snack Food of Lies?"

though I did get a small kick out of the Sarah Palin lookalike shouting "I don't even work here!!"
posted by ook at 6:24 AM on May 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Personally, I loathe the fact we have to sit through 20+ minutes of ads at the movies but just for argument's sake, let's say you pay for basic cable channels. You expect ads there, no?

Expect in the sense that I would be surprised by their sudden disappearance, yes. It's still annoying, though, because I'd rather:

1. Buy the content directly from the advertisers instead of giving the cable company money for nothing.
2. Pay more to the cable company and see no ads, but get the choice of which channels to buy without a package of unrelated channels included.

Since neither of these options are available, I don't watch television or pay any services for anything.
posted by odinsdream at 6:25 AM on May 5, 2010


I would find this a lot less repugnant if you didn't pretend that advertising was "education".

I see trailers for upcoming movies as very, very different than advertisements for car dealers, mobile phones, and soda. I stopped going to the movie theater a bit after they started having ads before the movie -- it just bothers me too much to pay for an expensive ticket and then sit through the ads. Trailers I like -- even at home, I watch the trailers, though I skip a few.

The overall experience is far, far better at home, though the sound is sometimes better in the theater. I don't have much sympathy for theater owners -- they took an alright experience and hammered as much of the fun out of it as they could. (There are plenty of art-house and beer-serving exceptions; I'm talking about the regular multi-plex sort of theater that shows mostly mainstream movies for mainstream audiences.)
posted by Forktine at 6:28 AM on May 5, 2010


I'm just confused about what the pitch here is: Kids meet aliens. Kids are informed the aliens are fake. LUNCHABLES!!!

Ads very rarely make sense. For example Miller Lite: Fuck you, potential customers, and ... don't be gay or something... or...
posted by odinsdream at 6:29 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Supposedly you can skip the mandatory trailers, etc by pressing on your remote: stop, stop, play. (per cnet )

When I hit stop twice on my Sony Blu-Ray player I get a message like "Playback cannot be resumed from this point. Video will start from the beginning at next play."

RAGE
posted by Fleebnork at 6:35 AM on May 5, 2010


"They were the only Lunchables that ever tasted as good as the Lunchables I did with my dad and Jack."
posted by blucevalo at 6:48 AM on May 5, 2010


That miller lite ad is repugnant, but it's clearly about the product: "Miller Lite makes you manly" is what you're supposed to take away from it, or "Miller Lite tastes better than generic crap beer". (An appropriately low bar to aim for, at least.)

If the aliens had been snacking on lunchables throughout their conversation with the kids maybe. Or if they'd devoured the little girl for lunch instead of shaking her hand. Hey, if they'd cracked open her skull and started snacking on her brain using one of those little plastic paddles -- Lunchables are the cheese and cracker things with the plastic paddle, aren't they? -- that would even have tied in nicely with the "Field trips open your mind" slogan.

Maybe I should go into advertising.
posted by ook at 6:50 AM on May 5, 2010


But at length, squeezed in between two obnoxious cliques of teens and hammered with successive batteries of outright commercials, MovieTicket.com pitches, and then trailers for insufferably bad motion pictures—such that the movie didn't start until fifteen minutes after its stated curtain—I understood that going out to see a movie has marginal utility.

The last movie I saw in a theater was in September. It was a re-release of a 70-year-old movie called "The Wizard of Oz." And the moviegoing experience was just like the experience described above, which made the experience of seeing this ancient artifact (by today's standards) somewhat surreal.

There was a time when I felt a vague sense of unease that I was seeing so few movies in a theater anymore, that I was missing out on the shared communal experience that you see lauded in all of those cinema theory essays from the 50s and 60s. But the moviegoing experience was very different then. Now it's essentially handing over $15+ (much, much more than that when you factor in the concession ripoffs) to be voluntarily assaulted and humiliated in public for 2-3 hours.
posted by blucevalo at 6:57 AM on May 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Listen up, Seattle people:

Majestic Bay Theater in Ballard. I have yet to see an ad there. It is the only theater I will go to.

I was in the heart of L.A. over the holidays visiting relatives when we decided to go to see Big Blockbuster 2 at the local AMC or whatever and it was shocking. I mean trailers for movies is one thing. Throw in a couple ads for Taco Bell and I'm almost walking out. But the continuous ad loop while people are taking their seats was something I'd never seen before. I just couldn't. I walked around the shopping mall for 2 hours instead. Fuckers wouldn't give me my money back, either.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:10 AM on May 5, 2010


Guess I'm an outlier; as long as I'm able to reduce the amount of advertising my kid sees every day by not having cable/watching TV much at all, I don't mind the movie ads so much.

I always loved trailers, and I have a sort of lingering affection for the cheesy slides for local businesses. I could live without the fake "quizzes" by Coke or whoever, mostly because they rerun the same three questions 8 times.

Pre-movie ads are annoying, but as with movies themselves, provide me many opportunities to whisper snarky observations to my husband and make his (smuggled-in) drink come out of his nose when he tries not to laugh out loud.

And for movies where we're not taking the kid, ads can = more makeout time!

I don't understand the "they own you" sentiment--you can't go to the bathroom? Putz around in the lobby? Check your text messages? The same skills that allow you to ignore ads at home work pretty well in a movie theater too.

Now, when movies require a brain-jack to get the full experience, then mandatory ads will be more of a problem. Hopefully by then, I'll be dead.
posted by emjaybee at 7:45 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


let's say you pay for basic cable channels. You expect ads there, no?

My HATE for this fresh new trend in pre-movie advertising is DEEP. This likening it to the home TV experience is akin to telling me I shouldn't complain when some restaurant serves me up some weird microwaved glob of four day old pork and rice (or whatever) and calls it Chef's Special stir-fry.

I CAN GET CRAP LIKE THAT AT HOME.
posted by philip-random at 7:47 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw this horrible Lunchables alien ad in a theater last week while I was trying to watch the Tim Burton disaster. The ad works no better in context. It looked fake from 10 seconds in, and the smarmy "it's for the children!" pitch just made it offensive. Not to mention the 10+ minutes of other ads sandwiched around it, followed by another 10 minutes of trailers. I still feel bad about stealing movies via BitTorrent. But each time I have a hostile movie theater experience, I feel a little less bad.

Every single moviegoer I know hates the ads in front of movies. Why do movie theaters show them? How much gross revenue does it bring in? Here's a claim that in 2008, cinema advertising made $570m. And here's a claim that in 2007, total box office is about $9630m. So that'd make advertising revenue about 6% of box office, or maybe... 4% of total gross? Is that incremental revenue really worth alienating all of your customers?

Maybe most movie goers don't hate the ads. Silence and quiet are disconcerting to people in contemporary times, maybe they feel the need to put something on the screen at all times.
posted by Nelson at 7:49 AM on May 5, 2010


I thought the Lunchables spot was cute, and certainly less pernicious than the product placement that gets wedged into movies themselves (especially movies aimed at children).

And if you're so deeply offended by being "made" to view ad reel, maybe bring a book? Enter the theater ten minutes later? Or if you really get as much out of the experience of watching a bittorrented MPG on your whatever-inch flatscreen, just continue to do that?

Or continue to GRAR. At the end of the day, the movie theater will still have air conditioning this summer, and my home will not.
posted by wreckingball at 7:52 AM on May 5, 2010


I just came here to say: Fuck the theater-based moviegoing experience.
posted by everichon at 8:04 AM on May 5, 2010


"LUNCHABLES!" screams Iron Man, recoiling and knocking over the table. A wayward fist sends Pepper slamming into a wall. She falls, still.

Flagged as viral marketer trying to create buzz for Iron Man 2 with rumors that Gwyneth Paltrow gets punched in the face.
posted by straight at 8:08 AM on May 5, 2010


I actually like seeing trailers (most of the time) before a movie. The non-trailer random shitty advertising though is horrendous. That's why when we go out to the movies, we usually try to get there just before actual screen time (when the trailers start). If we're seeing a popular movie so we have to get there early to get good seats, we just ignore all the crap while we chat amongst ourselves. On the rare occasion I go see a movie alone these days, I'll just say thank god for Internet enabled phones.
posted by kmz at 8:10 AM on May 5, 2010


I promise to not only sit through any number of commercials, but to actually buy and consume Lunchables if they will give ushers tasers and the authority to use them on texters and talkers.

Otherwise, just go back to that lava lamp oil screen and the local rock station before the movie.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:22 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


neda : Supposedly you can skip the mandatory trailers, etc by pressing on your remote: stop, stop, play.

Many models of player have such codes built-in, but they always count as unofficial diagnosic/service codes. Deliberately making them available to the end user would violate the their licensing terms - The DVD spec contains provisions for "prohibited User OPerations" (pUOPs) by design, not as a hacked-on afterthought like some of the obnoxious DRM schemes we've seen lately ("Works in 99.2% of players - Except yours, and no you can't have a refund").


Magnakai : We play foreign language and non-mainstream films. There are two kinds of things that play before a film starts - ads and trailers. Trailers are extremely important for educating our audience on what films are coming up in the near future.

I would call your situation somewhat unusual, though, and as rabidly anti-commercial as I may sound, I would actually not mind your trailers (your actual commercials, OTOH, not so much). Key difference, your trailers really do inform your audience about upcoming shows. Compare that with a trailer for, well, Iron Man 2 as an example. I don't even watch TV and I already know enough about Iron Man 2 to decide whether or not I want to see/buy it (I'll probably rent it and watch it at home, probably won't buy a copy, and definitely won't see it in the theater).
posted by pla at 8:29 AM on May 5, 2010


Despite my more than adequate home theater setup, I still try to see movies on the big screen every now and again. Both just for the experience, and as an effort to support, in some small way, the film makers I love.

I enjoy trailers, so I will never complain about those, and I can even tolerate a small number of targeted ads, knowing that they are the blood of theater itself, but I have limits, and stuff like this pushes hard against that border.

Theaters should start charging a whole lot more for advertisers to be seen before a film I've paid for, because my time is valuable to me, and at some point, I'll reweigh my desire to support local theaters and just stay home.
posted by quin at 8:31 AM on May 5, 2010


There used to be a time when there were no ads at the movies. (There used to be no ads on the internet, but that's another matter.) When the first ads started to appear, people in the theaters would boo them. Then one day, we were booing the ads and people started at us and shhh-d us.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:34 AM on May 5, 2010


JoanArkham : Otherwise, just go back to that lava lamp oil screen and the local rock station before the movie.

I used to (note the past-tense) like the pre-movie trivia questions as a way to waste a few minutes if you arrived early.

Last movie I saw in the theater (AiW), however, I noticed a drastic change in the nature of the questions. It no longer resembles trivia, so much as an end-of-commercial quiz to make sure you know which movies they want you to see. Not "who won the 1987 award for best supporting actress in an action/comedy?", but "which greatest-movie-ever opens June 17th and teaches you how to rule the universe with an iron fist, and only complete losers would even consider missing it?".
posted by pla at 8:36 AM on May 5, 2010


And this is why it has been more than two years since I saw a movie in a theatre.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 AM on May 5, 2010


Yikes this is bad.

For me as an individual the ticket price alone is from $11.95 to $13.99, not including taxes. The theatre sees virtually none of that.

If they *don't* show ads before the movie rolls, the price for my ticket will jump prohibitively to somewhere north of $18. Ticket prices were on their way towards that situation in the 80's, which is approximately when this ad-showing trend began. From then on, ticket prices still rose, but not nearly as high as they likely would have gone.

The problem is that the movie industry is sort of facing the same problems the music industry has been, and they're similarly not innovating in ways that benefit their consumers. Without the ads playing, we'd be paying even higher prices for the tickets, but the theatres would still not see any reasonable percentage of it.

But this particular advertising tactic is repulsive to me, and likely to make me avoid trying to see a movie I actually want to see (such as the new Iron Man) in theatres.

ad
posted by adamd1 at 9:03 AM on May 5, 2010


I would find this a lot less repugnant if you didn't pretend that advertising was "education".

Calm yourself, DU. "What films are coming up in the near future" is a legitimate, active, and highly relevant field of academic study. We're lucky around here in another of the local universities has one of the best Department of What Films Are Coming Up In The Near Future in the world.

I actually got to work with one of their PhD students who wanted to use some statistical tools I created. His dissertation When Will Avatar Open At That New Theater In The Mall? has won international acclaim, in no small measure because he was only off by two weeks, and I tell you now that just being able to see the brilliance in the field was better than a month-long orgasm. Which I've had.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:19 AM on May 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I haven't been to a Hollywood theater in forever but I do frequent the 2nd-run $3 movies here in Portland that all (with a few exceptions) serve beer and pizza.
posted by wcfields at 9:22 AM on May 5, 2010


Every time I go to see a movie, I am reminded of a castle, in that I must penetrate several rings of concentric advertising to actually get to the movie. ...

[snip the modern movie-going experience]

And they wonder why attendance is down.
This, this, a thousand times this.
posted by moonbiter at 9:23 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


But at length, squeezed in between two obnoxious cliques of teens and hammered with successive batteries of outright commercials, MovieTicket.com pitches, and then trailers for insufferably bad motion pictures—such that the movie didn't start until fifteen minutes after its stated curtain—I understood that going out to see a movie has marginal utility.


The best cure for becoming a premature old fart when going out to see a commercial movie (not saying it applies to you remotely, adoarns:)) is to sit beside a premature old fart when going out to see a commercial movie.

I was sitting next to my friend's husband (for "Disturbia"!), and by the time he had finished muttering about inconsiderate teenagers - and practically giving himself whiplash by shooting furious stares, and barking insults at the ads and snarling about the forthcoming crap "coming soon to this cinema" and inspecting - in disgust - under his seat, I was ready to clock him.

Instead I decided NOT to compare a commercial theater with my own private living room. Or to forget that I was probably once an obnoxious teen myself, who didn't mind the crap before the main feature - when she didn't have a living room of her own!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:06 AM on May 5, 2010


I haven't been to the cinema since February 2008 (There Will Be Blood?). I don't miss it. Apparently the Parkway closed last year, so I won't be back for a long time.

These are the end times for movie theaters. It will only get worse.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:06 AM on May 5, 2010


Pre-movie ads are annoying, but as with movies themselves, provide me many opportunities to whisper snarky observations to my husband and make his (smuggled-in) drink come out of his nose when he tries not to laugh out loud. And for movies where we're not taking the kid, ads can = more makeout time!

I don't understand the "they own you" sentiment--you can't go to the bathroom? Putz around in the lobby? Check your text messages? The same skills that allow you to ignore ads at home work pretty well in a movie theater too.


So you talk during the show, engage in public displays of affection, crawl past a row of people trying to watch the film to go to the restroom or hang out in the lobby (missing part of the show), and flash your phone's screen to check your text messages during the movie?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:11 AM on May 5, 2010


Am I the only person who isn't grossly offended by advertising?

Seriously, I'm starting to wonder.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:22 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


My heart is breaking for the poor thea…

Wait, no, it's heartburn.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 AM on May 5, 2010


So you talk during the show, engage in public displays of affection, crawl past a row of people trying to watch the film to go to the restroom or hang out in the lobby (missing part of the show), and flash your phone's screen to check your text messages during the movie?

No...during the ads. All during-movie snarking is super-quiet; and the occasional make-out is usually during half-empty shows in a back corner.* No need to clutch your pearls.

Unless you're just into that.


*If you have a) a small child b) busy schedules and c) very little money for going out, empty dollar movie theaters on a weeknight can save your marriage, I'm just sayin'.
posted by emjaybee at 11:35 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see trailers for upcoming movies as very, very different than advertisements for car dealers, mobile phones, and soda.

I loathe product ads in theatres and enjoy coming attractions, but let's not pretend they're a category apart. Whether it's a soft drink or a future movie ticket, it's there to convince me to buy it. It's just that one of the two has been incorporated into the movie-going experience more successfully, has become tradition, and tends to be more enjoyable (though both kinds of ads are good snark fodder).

I don't really understand the cost breakdown way above. 10% profit on food? With those popcorn and drinks prices??
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:40 AM on May 5, 2010


As long as the ads are shown before the stated movie showtime, I don't care. I typically go to theaters with reserved seating so I usually show up minutes before the start. Thankfully, reserved seating theaters, though $2-4 more expensive, show no ads and at most three trailers. The potential for annoyance only comes from the an usher who doesn't know how to present the movie.
posted by linux at 12:00 PM on May 5, 2010


I would find this a lot less repugnant if you didn't pretend that advertising was "education".

Advertising has never introduced you to something you'd love that you never knew existed?
posted by scrowdid at 12:11 PM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who isn't grossly offended by advertising?

Yes you are. Shame on you, you F***! You're the one single transgressor who's lax sense of cultural decency has encouraged the entire marketing biz to effectively destroy civilization as we know it.

And I bet you liked Transformers.
posted by philip-random at 12:15 PM on May 5, 2010


Lunchables DEAR GOD NO. I can't believe animals have to die to make Lunchables.

Anyway, regarding the "you get ads on cable and you pay for that" argument. I'm dropping $10 for a 90-minute movie. That's $3.33 per hour.

Let's say I watch 4 hours of cable TV every night. That's 120 hours per month, give or take.

If I were paying $399.60 a month for cable, then yes, I would be pretty pissed if it had 30 minutes of ads out of every 2 hours of programming!
posted by ErikaB at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2010


Is "I don't go out to movies" the new "I don't own a TV"?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:30 PM on May 5, 2010


Personally, I loathe the fact we have to sit through 20+ minutes of ads at the movies but just for argument's sake, let's say you pay for basic cable channels. You expect ads there, no?

Ads? Are those the things I skip through after I record something and finally sit down to watch it?
posted by coolguymichael at 12:32 PM on May 5, 2010


Dear Alamo Drafthouse:

Thanks for prefacing all your screenings with interesting / relevant / bizarre videos instead of commercials so that we don't have to worry about shit like this. Thanks also for having delicious food that is worth purchasing. We love you forever.

Love,
Austin, TX

(I don't work there or anything; it's just that Alamo has ruined all other movie theatres for me.)
posted by bluishorange at 1:31 PM on May 5, 2010


Uther Bentrazor : Am I the only person who isn't grossly offended by advertising?

"Advertising", in the abstract, doesn't bother me.

The implementation, however, almost always annoys me, often to the point of leaving me ranting at the commercial. I think, for me anyway, the threshold between "okay" and "should I hunt down the marketers or the marketing professors first when I finally snap" amounts to whether they want to make me aware of their product, or trick me into thinking I need their product.

Simple examples...

Product placement. We have "products" all around us in the real world. I find it less disturbing to see a can of Pepsi in a movie, than a can of nondescript white-label "Soda". Product placement doesn't bother me.

Compare that with the opposite end of the spectrum, pharmaceutical ads, where:
A) Often the commercials have so little information I can't even tell if I could use their drug,
B) even if I wanted their particular brand of poison, I can't legally get it without seeing a doctor, and
C) even if I needed their drug, I'd take the generic, not the branded version for 20x the price.

And relating to point A above, don't even get me started about commercials where I can't tell what brand or even what category of product it intends to sell me (the significant other thinks most of them involve clothes, but if so, I can't tell as much).


So to summarize this rambling... "This show brought to you by FleemCo, try our new Fleem Lite today", cool. A key character (casually!) drinking Fleem Lite in the movie, cool. Trying to convince me to buy something I don't want; trying to get me to switch personal hygiene products based on the beauty of actors who probably never touched the stuff; the edgiest combination of music, actors, and cuts they can fit into 30 seconds with the intent of jarring me from zero to panic; wasting my time with products I can't identify or actually obtain even if I wanted to, not cool.

Or to put it even more simply - Wasting my time amounts to advertising for your competition.
posted by pla at 2:08 PM on May 5, 2010


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