Did we forget to AD the movie?
December 18, 2002 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Ad this.
After seeing a movie premiere last night my idea of advertising is tainted. The movie was listed to start at 12:01 am. Unfortunately there were some ads to kick off the feature. The first ad was met with an ovation of boo's...followed by the next 8. Then came the trailers...another 6. Ironically, an actor from the movie was present and introduced himself much to everyones enjoyment. However, he preceded to plug his next movie (aaaahhhh). Finally came the movie came...just under a half hour later.
Point -> The whole process seemed to take the wind out of the start of the film.
posted by lightweight (46 comments total)
When the ads get to be too much, I usually make loud snide comments as well as take a few mental notes. I simply won't spend my money in the places that advertise. OK, I expect a few ads but I've gone to premiers where the attitude seems to have been 'OK. We've got a captive, excited audience. Let's really piss them off and milk this situation as much as we can.'
posted by skinsuit at 6:56 PM on December 18, 2002

yes, steve, they do. The problem is this: we already PAID for the movie. In theory, advertising is supposed to allow for the presentation of FREE media, like say, TV. But when it already costs $30 for two people to get in and get a drink at the theater, paying further by watching an ad is just a slap in the face.

I am not paying to see ads. I am paying to a movie. And nowhere is it mentioned in any of the implied contracts that I'll be watching ads for cocacola and volkswagen.

If they're going to show ads, they should lower the price of tickets. It's not like they're losing money at $9 a pop.
posted by jaded at 6:57 PM on December 18, 2002

There were 31 minutes of commercials and previews before The Two Towers when I saw it today. I don't mind a few, but a half hour is really overkill.
posted by Xkot at 7:02 PM on December 18, 2002

The funny thing is, at the same theatre, seeing two movies on two different occastions I have had NO ads apart from a slide for the candy bar (before A Beautiful Mind), and half an hour of ads (before My Big Fat Greek Wedding) - so you never know whether you should turn up late or not.
posted by Jimbob at 7:06 PM on December 18, 2002

There are ads before movies for the same reason that the web is saturated by pop-up ads.

They work.

You may hate them, you may vow to never buy anything from those companies again, but the ads still work.
posted by aramaic at 7:09 PM on December 18, 2002

I don't really mind those ads. Most of them are entertaining, and I like trailers anyway.
posted by aznblader at 7:27 PM on December 18, 2002

To quote Maddox at http://maddox.xmission.com/:
"THX and Fandango commercials are to movies as what AIDS is to humans."
posted by oflinkey at 7:29 PM on December 18, 2002

i don't watch it - but I know the premiere of a recent tv show...24... was given the full hour without commercials by a certain company (maybe these guys?).
This is functional.
posted by lightweight at 7:30 PM on December 18, 2002

lightweight: It was Ford, although an ad from Pfizer about being able to keep you up for 24 hours would have been pretty funny.
posted by todds at 7:59 PM on December 18, 2002

When I went to the 12:01 showing of Two Towers, there was roughly 25 minutes of "pre-show" consisting of commercials and previews. I've gotten used to it, plus the theatre I go to is good about starting the the adverts, etc early enough that Two Towers started at 12:09.
posted by turacma at 8:04 PM on December 18, 2002

skinsuit - presumably it's the theatre deciding how many ads will be shown. For that reason it might be ineffectual to boycott the company's whose ads are shown.
posted by mhjb at 9:26 PM on December 18, 2002

I simply show up late. I'm not cool enough to see movies anywhere close to opening night, so it's not like I won't get a seat. I usually arrive at the theater 15 minutes after the show has hypothetically started and take my seat, usually just as the opening credits are starting to roll. Whenever possible, I make a point of telling the person at the ticket counter that I'm intentionally showing up to skip the ads. Not like they care, but at least I'm lodging a complaint with someone.
posted by waldo at 9:31 PM on December 18, 2002

Previews are fine. I like them most times, and I love the whole theater experience, so just sitting in the darkened room, slouched down in the seat and watching the huge glowing screen is enough to get me through the bad previews. I can even handle the THX stuff. What annoys me is seeing stupid mountain dew and pepsi ads. The SAME stupid mountain dew and pepsi ads that I have to mute on the TV. Makes me wish I was an actual consumer of their devil's brews just so I could boycott them and mean it.
posted by Nothing at 9:31 PM on December 18, 2002

We also saw the 12:01 showing of The Two Towers here (at the best theater ever), and the trailers were great. Peter Jackson's The Frighteners, Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, and even the Leonard Nimoy Ballad of Bilbo Baggins video. Plus, they serve beer.

Aside from this special event, however, I love trailers. Ads not so much, of course, but I see trailers as an essential part of the movie-going experience. They're like really short, free movies! But I totally agree about the advertisments - I've paid once already. What can be done? Well, you can complain to the theater management, I guess. Or, you can stop going to see crappy MPAA blockbusters at generic megaplexes, and start supporting smaller theaters that don't piss off their customers.

But, of course, bitching about it on the Internet is a lot easier, so that seems like the most likely course of action...
posted by majcher at 9:33 PM on December 18, 2002

Maybe people should troop out of the theater and mill around in the hallway talking until a lookout reports that the movie is starting.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:56 PM on December 18, 2002

I don't mind the trailers because that's one of the main ways I find out about upcoming movies. The advertisements are unwelcome, but what's worse are the people who don't turn their friggin' cell phones off, bring crying babies or make loud comments during the movie.

All three happened today at the matinee of the Two Towers.
posted by jaden at 10:10 PM on December 18, 2002

I would be interested to see what would happen if they aired the same movie in two theaters: one with ads, another without. Charge $1 more for the theater without ads and compare attendance. We can bitch here all we want, but if we're not willing to put our wallets where our mouths are (strange image), then do we have any grounds to complain, besides the fact that we're all whiners?
posted by fatbobsmith at 10:26 PM on December 18, 2002

Here's my genius plan to save movie theatres and save us from ads.

Like someone above pointed out, ads are supposed to be there so you don't have to pay for media, right? Now, if I could go see a movie and get in for a buck or two, I'd gladly sit through at least half an hour of ads. Probably 45 minutes. On the other hand, if I just paid twelve bucks for a ticket, I'm gonna be pissed off at even one single ad.

So just insititute a new pricing plan. Tickets for a show are free to order. If you show up and get your ticket an hour before the show starts, you pay nothing, but you have to get your ass through the theatre door.

Every thirty seconds thereafter (as the ads run inside the theatre), the price to get in increases by ten cents. Show up half an hour before the show? You pay $6.00. Show up at showtime, you pay full price, $12.00.

It's simple, customer-friendly, and allows theatres to use advertising to increase their audiences, rather than drive them away.
posted by rusty at 11:32 PM on December 18, 2002

Or how about they charge an extra buck to the stanky dorks who sat around me at the 10:15 showing of Two Towers at the Clearview Chelsea theater? I can take ads, I can take trailers, and I could probably suffer through a speech by a movie star. But would it kill people to wash their bodies, "witty" shirts, hippie-pagan gear, elf costumes, etc.? I would have volunteered for an extra BMW ad if they'd brought in some hoses and a carton of air fresheners.
posted by subgenius at 11:39 PM on December 18, 2002

Or how about they charge an extra buck to the 3-piece-suit wearin' yuppies who sat around me? I can't stand the ads, love the trailers, but I don't want to suffer through harsh light from a $200 cell phone, even if it is on vibrate. Would it kill you to go home after work, and change out of your Versace suit? It's a movie for chrissakes. And by the way, you spilled your $8 latte on my hippie-pagan elf costume.
posted by krakedhalo at 11:54 PM on December 18, 2002

Ew. Someone in here reeks of patchouli.
posted by rusty at 12:07 AM on December 19, 2002

I seem to remember that when they first started this trend there were small disclaimers on the bottom of each ad that said "See your theater's manager with comments"

I think we missed out chance.
posted by cinderful at 12:14 AM on December 19, 2002

after reading this thread, i checked with my neighbors who had just returned from the ARCLIGHT theaters, here in LA.

$11 tickets in an apparently VERY nice hall, cool seats, not a bad one in the house, number/assigned seating (everyone shows up last minute)

+ $3 ticketbastard fee for advance tix to big time movie opening week (sold out all week)


$14 ticket with previews, no ads.

$14 for a movie!! (actually $11, but still)
forget it.
posted by asparagus_berlin at 12:42 AM on December 19, 2002

Did it ever occur to any of you that the reason may have been that you were so drawn in by advertising that you went to see a movie the very minute it opened? If your demographic was so effected by some commercials, why not bombard you with more? It certainly worked in the past.
posted by ttrendel at 1:30 AM on December 19, 2002

If they're going to show ads, they should lower the price of tickets. It's not like they're losing money at $9 a pop.

It depends on which "they" you are talking about. If you are talking about the movie studios, agents, and Hollywood stars, they are certainly not losing money from ticket sales. However, the movie theaters themselves get comparatively little money from ticket sales compared to the money they make from sodas and candy sold at the concession stand. Hence, you get all the ads for Coca-Cola etc. Non-food ads may be more ubiquitous these days, because the theater gets more revenue from them than they would from the film itself. A sad fact that results is that theaters prefer to have films that cater to people with low sales ad resistance who buy lots of soda and candy (e.g., teenagers).

Perhaps this is an unintended consequence of the antitrust rulings since 1950 that inhibit movie studios from having a financial interest in movie theaters. Vertical intergration of movie studios and theaters could reduce ticket prices, but that could also have the effect of making available films more homogeneous than they already are.
posted by jonp72 at 1:56 AM on December 19, 2002

thank you, jonp72; i had just read through these comments, not seeing anyone touch on the subjects you mention. they're exactly why we see ads in theaters now-a-days.

in portland, oregon (where i live) the major movie chain (regal) filed for bankruptcy recently. i believe it was in the last year or so. this is why we now see coke ads instead of pepsi- coke outbid pepsi on the contract when it came up.

i would assume the same could be said for chains around the country. if they're not already bankrupt, they are probably on their way.

regal has too many screens in portland, and therefore has to make some money somehow.

the ads suck, absolutely.. but theaters aren't doing so well.
posted by wickedfat at 2:33 AM on December 19, 2002

Did it ever occur to any of you that the reason may have been that you were so drawn in by advertising that you went to see a movie the very minute it opened?

ohhh, burn!

Seriously, jonp72 is getting to the heart of the matter. For an eleven dollar ticket, the movie theater itself (or related chain, like Regal) keeps about a dollar of that. So a sold out show of three hundred people gives them a gross of...three hundred dollars. Not really that much. That leads to the high concession stand prices which many people stopped paying, and that leads to ads since theater still need money to maintain themselves and companies love paying for your attention (see "television"). I recommend showing up ten to fifteen minutes after the listed start time.
posted by dogwalker at 4:42 AM on December 19, 2002

well, i thought it was werid that when i saw die another day two weeks after it came out, i counted 9 commericals. when i saw the two towers on opening night, there weren't any commericals. if they really were targeting the opening night audience, then die another day shouldn't have had any commericals and lord of the rings should have had a bunch.
posted by Stynxno at 4:58 AM on December 19, 2002

Per comments of jonp72: Studios siphon ticket money.

Ads at movies still suck, though. To bad there is no "click-through" metric on them (and other, similar ad vectors) to show people in just how much they suck (like there is on online advertising).
posted by moonbiter at 5:58 AM on December 19, 2002

The first ad was met with an ovation of boo's...

Wouldn't it be great if everyone booed the ads? And maybe chanted "Start the movie! Start the movie!"?

How do I start a movement without having to be the only person booing?
posted by skryche at 6:38 AM on December 19, 2002

Once upon a time it was only movie trailers being shown -- fine. But nowadays, you've got three or four actual TV commercials being shown before the trailers even start -- it's simply ridiculous.

About a year ago I heard something about Ralph Nader trying to make theatres publish times indicating when the actual movie starts, rather than the commercials. THAT is a good idea.

Right now, a movie for two costs about as much as a DVD. Add the overpriced concessions and rude audience members with their incessant talking to each other (as well as their cell-phones), and it's no wonder at all that I go to the movies about 1/4 as often as I used to.

One day the theatres are going to wonder where all their customers disappeared to... I'd have to say that it would be no mystery.
posted by eas98 at 7:10 AM on December 19, 2002

I personally like watching previews. If I arrive too late to see them, I generally buy tickets for the next show.

However, I went to the Tower opening yesterday, and saw 5 previews.... Terminator 3, Bad Boys 2, Dumb and Dumberer, Final Destination 2, and...something else with a part 2 on it. Looks like Hollywood needs some new writers.
posted by bradth27 at 7:10 AM on December 19, 2002

Stynxno: it seems based on the others' comments that you had an atypical experience.

My experience is somewhere in-between because at my local theater it doesn't seem to matter which movie you watch, you have about 20 min of commercials/trailers.

Dogwalker: From Moonbiter's handy link, the 90/10 split is only for the initial weeks. Popular movies sometimes run for 8 weeks or longer. Especially at the mega-screen theaters, you can just keeping moving a movie out in the wings to smaller and smaller rooms. I've seen movies on the marquee for 3 months. Yes, it sucks that they only get 10% of that sold out 12:01 showing, but showing the film at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 for 7 days a week for 8 weeks offers some significant earning potential at the lower splits.

On the candy issue, the movies as "glorified candy stand" is a bit repugnant, though I know it is steeped in truth.

I am hopeful that some of the new approaches towards theaters, especially the adult-themed ones, have some successes. I think it is somewhat of a self-feeding cycle. Adults quit going to the movies because it's full of children, etc. I'm especially intrigued by the new "dinner theater" type arrangements and would appreciate any comments from anyone who has been to one. We don't have such things here out in the sticks.

But clearly some things need to be done:

1. Bring back ushers. If your cell phone goes off, you are ejected from the theater with a refund. No exceptions.

2. If you talk loudly or cause a commotion, you are ejected from the theater WITHOUT
a refund. No exceptions. This also applies if you make an OUTGOING call on your cell phone. There is never an excuse for anything above a soft whisper in a movie theater unless it is on fire.

3. Children 6 years and under not admitted to anything besides "G" rated movies. Children 2 and under not admitted period. No exceptions.

Just these small things would make a WORLD of difference in the average theater-going experience.

I also think they could increase revenues by showing better movies but that's an entirely different issue. :P
posted by Ynoxas at 7:19 AM on December 19, 2002

chanted "Start the movie! Start the movie!"

all good ideas start on "The Simpsons": Homer, enraged by the number of previews, jumps up in front of the screen chanting "Start the movie! Start the movie!" then the ushers break open a yard-long Kit-Kat, snap the pieces apart, and use them as nightsticks to chase him off the stage. beware! guess i'll have to tough out the half hour of crap before LOTR:TTT tonight...9pm at the Loews Boston Common, be there or be...oh, wait. ;-)
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:07 AM on December 19, 2002

From Moonbiter's handy link, the 90/10 split is only for the initial weeks. Popular movies sometimes run for 8 weeks or longer. Especially at the mega-screen theaters, you can just keeping moving a movie out in the wings to smaller and smaller rooms. I've seen movies on the marquee for 3 months. Yes, it sucks that they only get 10% of that sold out 12:01 showing, but showing the film at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 for 7 days a week for 8 weeks offers some significant earning potential at the lower splits.

It's funny that we consider "8 weeks or longer" a good long time. As recently as the original Jurassic Park -- that is, less than 10 years ago -- I think it was still playing in some theaters a year after it came out. The Lord of the Rings movies, as well as Harry Potter, played for many months, but not so many -- Fellowship was basically ejected in time for the summer movies, which now start in April, so it had a good four months, but that's definitely the exception to the rule. Here in Madison, Wis., at the non-budget, non-arthouse theaters, the oldest movies playing (measured from the date of their wide, not limited, release) are The Ring (10/18) and 8 Mile (11/8). This is out of somewhere around 60 multiplex screens. So Ring has made it nine weeks, although it's definitely tapering off (today might be its last non-budget day, since three open-at-every-'plex movies open tomorrow -- Gangs of New York, Two Weeks' Notice, The Wild Thornberrys Movie).

The point of this is that the playdate arrangements that studios have with theaters, which give them increasing revenue the longer a movie plays, are not exactly a windfall for the theaters. Particularly when the studios judge their own performance by opening-weekend competitiveness -- they pour all their resources into getting the film to open big, and then mostly abandon it, in no small part because they have the coordinate their next huge opening week. It's expected that a movie's attendance will drop by almost 50% from weekend 1 to weekend 2.

I love going to the movies, and I accept the ads as a necessary evil. When I turn a single ticket into a double feature -- which I often do -- I also always make it a point to buy concessions, since the theater makes less than $1 on a ticket and about $4.75 on a $5 tub of 'corn.
posted by blueshammer at 8:07 AM on December 19, 2002

I saw The Two Towers yesterday at 7:45 am at Cinerama (the third screening that day).

As the lights dimmed and people started cheering I sarcastically said to my wife, "Yay, advertising!". My jaw nearly hit the floor when the movie began within moments.

I assume this was a one-time thing, but the tickets didn't cost any more than usual.

Friends at work who caught a midnight screening at a more corporate location reported that the excessive advertising did get booed and scorned by the crowd.
posted by O9scar at 8:12 AM on December 19, 2002

How do I start a movement without having to be the only person booing?

How can you start something without, uh, starting it?

Movie theaters in France seem to be doing well:

The movie-theater biz is in the pits just about everywhere but France. In the U.S., not only are screens going dark, but some major theater operators have declared bankruptcy. A similar crash is hitting much of Europe...France, however, boasts more movie-ticket sales than any other European market [...]

So far, regulatory red tape has saved France from the overbuilding that has occurred elsewhere....because of inevitable paperwork and construction delays, multiplexes can't be opened so quickly -- the UGC Bercy in Paris took nine years to complete. As a result, French outfits face less risk of seeing the number of seats outstrip demand.

posted by mediareport at 9:07 AM on December 19, 2002

Last night, at a LOTR showing, there were commercials for: an SUV, Coke, two TV shows, two DVD box sets, and then the usual movie trailers (and oh, what trailers they were... a prequil to Dumb and Dumber is in the works! oh joyous day!).

By the end people were throwing popcorn and screaming "Start the movie already!"

I did scream, but as for the popcorn, well, I'm not about to throw anything I spent that much on.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:32 AM on December 19, 2002

I just had this discussion with a friend of mine. I contested that if you're paying for content, you shouldn't be subjected to advertising, unless the advertising reduces the cost of the content (eg, magazines, newspapers). He lumped the commercials with the slides movie theatres show before the films (and I use "film" loosely).

However, unlike magazines and newspapers, the theatres, and not the studios, sell the commercials and slides. Unlike the slides though, the commercials sometimes start after the movie's start time -- that's where the crime is in my opinion.
posted by uftheory at 9:36 AM on December 19, 2002

Movie theaters in France seem to be doing well

It's not just the lack of overdevelopment there, it's also the lack of a traditionally weak rental market (somewhat outdated citation). Movie attendance in France is always sky high, because although they buy lots of videos, renting isn't nearly so widespread.

Not to get too far off-topic here, but I hate the thought of a Paris served primarily by multiplexes. Those tiny theaters may be stuffy and antiquated, but they're willing and able to show things the big outfits are not. Making it just-shy-of-prohibitively difficult to build more screens than is ever needed sounds like a great idea to me--but when was the last time the U.S. was willing to borrow red tape from the French?

Also: Maybe the studios shouldn't have created a climate in which the only way they can imagine turning a profit is to pour money into the obscene publicity/hype machine and cross their fingers for a big opening weekend. Then perhaps they would be able to rent prints at prices that make exhibition more profitable for everybody.
posted by sj at 9:52 AM on December 19, 2002

The only thing worse than commercials before movies are the people who get downright angry that you talk while they are on.
posted by infowar at 10:41 AM on December 19, 2002

As the time consumed by these ads becomes more and more lengthy, I wonder about advertised 'run times'. If the theater publishes an ad that says a movie has a 2 hour runtime, then plays 30 minutes of ads in front of the movie so that you are stuck there for an extra 30 minutes, isn't that some type of false advertising?

For that matter, the ads specify a start time for the movie, and if the movie doesn't start at that time, isn't that some type of false advertising?

I'm just waiting for some type of lawsuit from someone who was made to be late for something because the theatre ran 30 minutes of ads in front of a movie that was only supposed to be 2 hours long.
posted by rrtek at 11:28 AM on December 19, 2002

Reading this thread I can't believe how much people pay for movie tickets.. I paid $4.75 to see Two Towers yesterday at 10:30am (Stadium seating, Dolby Digital). Of course this is in Medford, Oregon.

As for the commercials before the movie, I didn't think they were any worse than the constant bombardment of advertisements we see everywhere already (billboards, tv, internet). And our movie started on time. Besides, it was fun having the whole audience laugh through the Terminator 3 trailer..
posted by zyfly at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2002

jonp72, I don't know exactly how they get around it, but in America, Sony owned both Sony Pictures (Columbia, TriStar, etc.) and Loews Theatres for a few years. Currently, \/|/\CO/\/\ owns a couple of theatre chains, Blockbuster Video, and Paramount Pictures, which is why they painted the freakin' Wild Thornberrys on the windows of the local Showcase Cinemas.

On the other hand, there's United Artists, which hasn't been affiliated with the movie studio for, like, fifty years. I think they're owned by Regal now.
posted by britain at 1:27 PM on December 19, 2002

Besides, it was fun having the whole audience laugh through the Terminator 3 trailer..

Arnie: "She'll be back..."

Audience: "...but we won't!"
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:09 PM on December 19, 2002

See, the place where I choose to watch movies is kind enough to time the pre-movie stuff well.. There is always exactly 10 minutes worth. So, if I want to avoid the ads, I head in 9 minutes after the advertised time, and bingo catch the end of the last trailer as I settle down.
posted by sycophant at 6:13 AM on December 20, 2002

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