Moviegoers fed up with long trailers may get some relief at the multiplex.
The trade group representing major theater chains announced that it was clamping down on the duration of movie trailers -- and how far in advance they are shown before a film's release.
As part of new guidelines, the National Association of Theatre Owners called for limiting the length of movie trailers to two minutes. That is down from 21/2 minutes, which for several years has been the standard recommended by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Seeking to "maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry's marketing efforts," the theater owners group also called for restricting marketing time for trailers to 150 days prior to the release date of the film, and 120 days for all other in-theater marketing materials.
Distributors would be allowed two exemptions a year for trailer length and marketing lead time.
"These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands," the theater owners group said in a statement. "The guidelines are completely voluntary and will be implemented through individual exhibition company policies, which may vary."
Trailer length has been a source of annoyance among consumers, as well as a bone of contention between theater owners and studios, who often haggle over how to divvy up box-office revenue.
Traditionally, theater owners were content to run the advertisements for upcoming movies on the understanding that they drove box-office receipts and concession-stand sales. Studios paid to make the trailers and cinemas screened them without charge.
But in a sign of the trailers' rising value, some large theater chains are charging studios to run their trailers. Some studios pay as much as $100,000 to play a trailer for one film. Last year, the nation's largest cinema chain, Regal Entertainment, cut the number of free trailers that studios can run with their own movies from two to one.
The practice is a sore point with distributors, which have complained that they're being asked to pay to get their trailers played or risk getting shut out.