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Thursday, May 30th 2013

8:44 PM

Trailer Trash?

The latest battle at the box office may be between the people who make movies and the people who show them.

"The Hollywood Reporter" recently posted THIS article (billed as "exclusive") which says that theater owners want movie studios to make shorter trailers. Studio execs seem to be under the impression that 2:30 is pretty much the "perfect" length for a movie trailer. The theater owners, on the other hand, say movie audiences have been complaining that the trailers are too long. The theater owners would prefer 2:00 trailers and are pushing for rule changes to make it official.

Here's generally what I think.

I think movies fall into three categories: movies that people will see no matter what; movies that people won't see no matter what; movies that no one has heard of.

Of course, not every movie falls into the same category for every person. But, let's use the recently-released Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness as an example.

I guess I had seen a TV ad or something that made me aware of when it was coming out. For me, because I liked the first entry in this re-booted series, I saw the second one pretty much sight unseen. Seeing a trailer for it, no matter how long it was, wouldn't have changed my mind. It's preaching to the choir, so to speak.

On the other hand, people who aren't already "into" Star Trek or who aren't fans of J.J. Abrams probably won't see the movie no matter how good or how long the trailer is. They belong to a choir that sings a different song.

Trailers need to be aimed at the movie equivalent of the undecided voter. That means that trailers need to build buzz among the faithful (i.e. bring out the base), avoid turning off the faithful, and, perhaps most importantly, convince moviegoers to try something new.

In a world where :15 commercials are standard, and where thoughts are expressed in 140 characters or less, a trailer probably has about that long to do its job. Anything beyond, say, :30 is just taking up valuable time. If the trailer hasn't grabbed me in the first :30, another 2:00 of it probably isn't going to make a difference. If it has grabbed me, another 2:00 could give me a chance to change my mind.

Make your pitch and make it quick. If you also make it good, I'll be back. 
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