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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Difference Between a Movie Trailer and an Ad

ShowHype: hype it up!
This is my response to a recent article that has been Dugg. The basic premise of the article is that movie theatres should be responsible for paying back the consumer (moviegoer) for time that is spent watching ads that show before movies. However, being a theatre manager, there are many false claims made in this article, and I want to shed some light on what the truth of it is. My forum may not be as large as the one that his article reaches, but I hope that someone will notice this. This is also not my normal tone, but he really irked me on this one.

I'd like to make two key points right away:
  • The ads plays before the movie, typically on digital projectors.
  • Trailers start at the published show time, and are considered part of the movie. When you pay for a movie, you get trailers also. (You also get credits!)
Yes the advertising business does provide movie theatres with a lot of money. Half a billion dollars, according to that article. I am inclined to believe this, but he also mentions another point. According to IMDB, most movie goers don't mind the ads. While I do believe that some people are against the ads, there are also many who either like the ads, choose to ignore the ads, or watch them because they are there. Next, and I quote:

But you don’t have to have a degree in advertising to know that the bulk of that $456 million in ad money doesn’t come from those “pre-show” commercials. Oh no no no no… most of that money comes from the ads I LOATHE. The commercials (not trailers… I like those) that they start playing at the time they advertised the MOVIE was supposed to start.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.

- When you take my money for popcorn, at least I’m getting a tasty treat

- When you take my cash at the box office, I’m getting to come in to watch the movie

- When you take my time for commercials on TV, I’m getting a “free” TV show out of it

But what are we getting for our time with commercials in movie theaters? When the ad says “Movie starts at 7pm” and I’m in my seat (that I paid admission for) at 7pm, it’s time for you to start giving me what I paid you for… the movie. If you want to show me commercials, fine… give me the movie for free then.
This is just not true. At the theatre I work at, the ads are run on a digital projector. This beeps when the movie is scheduled to start, and the projectionist then hits the start button, on the FILM. Included in the film are several things. First, a note to find the nearest emergency exit in case of an emergency. Next a snipe that says "Coming Attractions". Then, depending on the movie, 10-15 minutes of trailers. (It even shows on! Feature Presentations Start 10-15 Minutes Following Published Showtimes. That's for trailers!!!) Next, another snipe for "Feature Presentation". Then... guess what.. THE FEATURE PRESENTATION. There are no extra ads there, at least for the company I work for. The writer of that article just assumes that this is common practice. Well I work for a large theatre chain and its definitely NOT common practice for us to do that.
I don’t mind theaters making money off me when I get a product, service or entertainment in return… but commercials playing at 7pm when you told me the movie would be starting is doing nothing but STEALING my time. You are taking from me without giving anything in return. HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM ONLINE MOVIE PIRACY!?!?
He makes a very strong point about this. First of all, theatres do not steal your time. YOU choose to go to the movies. And, as I've stated before, our ads run before the scheduled start time. This is just an asinine point.

Finally, his calculation on how much theatres owe him for watching ads.

I see approximately 8 films in theater each month. At about 15 minutes of commercials per film (remember, these are ads that begin to play at the movie advertised start time), I end up spending about 2 hours per month watching ads in theaters uncompensated. That’s 24 hours, or a full day of uncompensated ad watching in a year.


I’m not a doctor or lawyer, so let’s say my time is worth a measly $20/hour. Since I spent about 24 hours watching uncompensated ads in theaters last year, I figure the movie industry owes me about $480 out of that Half Billion they made last year off my time. Seems fair.

The principle for piracy and time theft is the same. Taking an asset (a movie, or your time) without providing the due compensation for taking that asset. So where do we start the class action lawsuit?

If you tell me the movie starts at 7pm, then when I PAY YOU to get into the movies, there is an implied contract that you give me what I paid for… a movie at 7pm. When you instead put up 15-20 minutes of commercials at 7pm you are stealing my time, and also stealing MY SHARE OF THAT $456 MILLION you made off my time.

So the next time you’re pirating a movie (which is neither something I do nor endorse), let that ease your conscience, because although you’re stealing the $10 you would have paid in admission… they probably owe you about $150 for stolen ad time anyway.

So, I guess the next time you see a movie, you should ask for that $140 as a check, since that's how much you're owed for watching ads. You are not paid for watching ads on TV, reading ads on the internet, or anything else like that. True, you are not paying for TV (Basic) but even cable has ads, and so does the internet. He is basically making a point tat you should get paid for anything that wastes your time. After having read his article, I felt like I have wasted my time, and would like some of my money back.

Again, I can't speak for all theatres, but I know that his points are just invalid when it comes to who I work for. Next time, do the research before you scream about something you don't really know about. Make sure it applies to all situations before you say it does.

7 Comments Posted!:

Prin said...

They could play a half hour (and some theatres do) of movie trailers and I wouldn't mind. But when they start showing car ads, or even Gap ads, that's where I draw the line. Say the movie starts at 7, they'll show like 4 or 5 movie trailers and then before the feature comes on, they throw in three or four 30 second commercials we normally see on tv. Tsk. That's selling out too much, IMO.

And don't tell me, who paid to see this movie in the theatre, that stealing movies is wrong. I KNOW! I PAID!


MandyPoo said...

The ads & such don't bother me. Everyone is just trying to sell their product - it's the way of the world. But if anyone really wants to pay me $140 to go to the theaters, I'll take it!

starttothink said...

I think that the reason why some people (including myself) don't like the extra ads are because we're not used to them. I remember a time at the movies, not too long ago, where the tickets were $5.00 (and that was expensive) and there were just a few previews to upcoming movies that were filtered to attract those that were coming to see that movie, too (no chick flick previews at an action movie, for example). I go to a movie to pay the $10, hope it's worth close to that, and get lost for 2 hours. To mindlessly forget the stress of real life.

Now, I know it has nothing to do with it, but the worth of a movie is also the experience to me. Did I freeze in the theater? Was I uncomfortable enough to know that I was in a movie, and did I notice the minutes ticking by because of Joe Blow in front of me checking his cell phone every few minutes for a text message? How about that screaming baby.

Granted, selfish guests are not the fault of the theater, and I consciously remember that. But I think there's a feeling in some of us that, "Gee, now I'm paying a huge amount of money, comparatively speaking to the recent past, to have a good chance of having less a good experience."

Just trying to explain what's going through some of our heads. :)

I know that people who work in theaters and other service-oriented industries have to have the patience of saints to deal with the crowds and the varied types of people that the movies draw in. You're a much better person than I!

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whatagem said...

Call me crazy but I like watching a few trailers. How else will I know what I'm being told to watch?

joen05 said...

@Prin, maybe things are different in canada? None of the theatres around ere show ads after the movie start time. Just trailers.

@mandypoo, they don't even pay me that much to babysit 400 kids at a time!

@STT you make some very valid points, and customer service still ranks tops in at least my company's business concerns. It is getting more difficult with people constantly wanting more for less. With such poor movie product, it hasn't gotten any easier.

@gene, I will be by.

@whatgem, I know! sometimes they are the best part. Plus ads tell me what to buy ;-)

Deadpoolite said...

I think the guy who wrote that viewers should get paid to watch movie ads should get a job already and be done with it:)

I like watching movie trailers before movies and I am totally indifferent towards other ads although they can be occassionally VERY annoying especially if they are extended versions of TV ads as it happens many times...