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Out of Our Minds
Monday, May 09, 2005 4:41 PM
Truth in (Avoiding) Advertising
Kevin Salwen on Life

If you're like me, you've become resigned to sitting through ads at the beginning of your movie. First comes 'The Twenty,' a string of mildly cloaked ads; then come the real commercials -- for video games, the Army and, of course, every Coca-Cola product ever invented. Only then do you get to see the 'previews,' which of course are a series of promotions for coming movies.

But some folks aren't nearly as resigned as I am. Websites have popped up to fume about this bombardment -- such as www.captiveaudience.org, and my personal fave, www.didntialreadypayforthismovie.com. Lawmakers in 4 states and New York City are pondering a system of fines if theaters don't tell you when the movie actually starts.

Recently, Loews Cineplex said it would take a step to quell the annoyance: In newspapers and on websites, it plans to tell viewers that movies begin 10 to 15 minutes after the listed time. But the fact is, this isn't enough: In this age of TiVo, VCRs, pop-up blockers, satellite radio and other means for leap-frogging ads, showing up late to avoid commercials seems like an unsatisfactory solution, especially when it means that your seats are likely to be worse.

I rarely think there is only one solution to a problem. Of course, theaters could stop showing ads, but then we may face higher ticket prices. They could offer reserved seating, so I could show up when I want to -- and charge me a small premium for the privilege. Any smart thinkers out there want to take this one on?


Gary - 5/10/2005 10:53:47 AM
I hate movie previews; particularly ones for the US market. By the time they've done you've seen all the good scenes, know exactly what the plot is and there's not much point in seeing the film.
I don't even read beyond the first paragraph on the book jacket of a novel...
I want a tesaer, not a synopsis!
Jenny - 5/10/2005 10:51:37 AM
Hmmm...if it's not possible to get rid of pre-feature ads altogether, perhaps doing what Amazon did with their filmverts would be better. Basically, they let indie filmmakers create micro-mini films that featured all kinds of cool stuff that Amazon sells online. At the end of the film, each item got a line in the credits and in some cases a link to the Amazon page. Most of the filmverts were pretty well-done and the product placement was prominent though not nearly as obnxious as current methods.

Personally, I wish more ads were self-contained stories like that. I'd probably go a bit easier with the Skip button on my DVR.
Laura Bergells - 5/10/2005 9:17:37 AM
I dislike movie previews because they are so obnoxiously LOUD. I keep a pair of ear plugs in my purse just to keep my head from splitting in two.

Despite the plugs, I can still actually hear every line of dialog, every explosion, and every sound effect. It's noise pollution, in my opinion.

How's this for a compromise? Go ahead and play the previews while I find my seat and get otherwise adjusted....just play them without the sound. Have the ticket takers hand out headsets for those who want to listen to previews. People who like previews can listen and watch, those of us who don't can have pre-show conversations, unmolested by noise.

Ushers can report on how many people took headsets in: what a fantastic opt-in ad measurement to give to advertisers!
Kate - 5/10/2005 8:55:11 AM
If I skip over my bafflement about how and why something like this rose to the top of legislative agendas, I'd end up at endorsing your reserved seating option to give those who really mind a chance to skip the ads.

Personally, I enjoy the previews (and even view them as part of the fun of going to the movie,) and generally use the non-cinematic commercials to unwrap the snacks I've smuggled in my Movie Purse.


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