Cinema ads

I came across this article complaining about the duration of ads before movies start in cinemas. And let me tell you, those Americans sure have it good relative to what we have here. The complaint raised there is valid and correct, but it’s so much worse here that it feels the norm.

Of course this became an article not because of the problem, but because the people hitting the problem were big names from within the entertainment industry: (emphasis in quoted text is mine)

As head of production at New Line Cinema, Toby Emmerich is not your typical moviegoer. So when he wanted to see “War of the Worlds” the other night, his choice was between seeing the film in a theater with a tub of popcorn or watching it in a screening room at Jim Carrey’s house, with a private chef handling the culinary options. Despite this seemingly loaded deck, Emmerich opted for a real theater.

“I love seeing a movie with a big crowd,” he says. “But I had no idea how many obnoxious ads I’d have to endure — it really drove me crazy. After sitting through about 15 minutes of ads, I turned to my wife and said, ‘Maybe we should’ve gone to Jim Carrey’s house after all.’ “

When DreamWorks marketing chief Terry Press took her young twins to see “Robots” this year, she said, “My own children turned to me and said, ‘Mommy, there are too many commercials!’ Now, when the lights go halfway down, I’m filled with dread. The whole uniqueness of the moviegoing experience is being eroded by all the endless ads.”

That all it takes? 15 minutes of ads? Would that be with, or without, the extra time spent on movie trailers? Around here in Israel, 15 minutes of ads is quite standard, and on the short side of the standard. I recently went to a movie before which we saw about 17 minutes of ads, plus 6 minutes of trailers, and both me and my friend felt that this was relatively very nice and short. Seriously.

There was an “amusing”, and sadly very rare, incident around two weeks ago which reached the headlines (article is in Hebrew, sorry): In this case, after watching about 20 minutes of commercials, two of the viewers went outside to complain. They were told by the cinema management that if they have a problem they can take their money back and leave. They returned to the hall, told the other viewers about that, and most decided to take the cinema up on that offer.

I think that this is not likely to have much of an effect, however, because I’ve been to quite a few movies preceded by that duration of ads, and nobody did anything similar. Still, one can hope.

Sometimes including the ads, the trailers, and the various notifications, it can take 40-50 minutes from the official start hour until the movie starts. So the Americans should know that their 10-20 minutes can easily expand.

The article also had a telling quote from Globus United (One of the major entertainment companys here, which owns a large percentage of cinemas, and is the importer of films from Universal, WB, Paramount, and such). They said that (my own rough translation):

The state, as you know, does not subsidize the movie industry, as it subsidizes the theatres for example, and in the price of the ticket (which includes VAT, of course) alone it is hard to cover a multitude of costs (such as electricity, rent, security, etc.), and this is why the ads are required.

My heart bleeds for them.

Expect similar replies from the US cinemas if this issue actually makes waves there.

They also mentioned that in their own cinemas they show the actual start time of the movie. Even if it’s true (and I do not recall seeing anything like this in a prominent location), that is something you can see only after you already arrived to the cinema, not before. The newspaper listing, and website listings, only show the official start hour.

And then they wonder why less and less people go to see movies in the cinema, and more and more they show movies to a half-empty room…

Via Interesting People, via a post on The Big Picture about the reasons for decline in movie theatre revenue. This post here is a slightly edited version of a reply I sent on the IP list, which (so far?) did not get forwarded to the list.

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