Hollywood studios warned over promotional film trailers

Concern that adverts are being used to promote computer game tie-ins

Hollywood studios have been warned not to turn film trailers into lengthy adverts for computer game tie-ins.

The UK Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) has expressed concern that trailers, which can screen for more than ten minutes before the start of a film, are being used to promote “ancillary products” rather than whet the appetite for a forthcoming attraction.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the CEA, said: “We are concerned about the trend for some trailers to become adverts not for the films they are promoting but for a variety of ancillary products around the film.” Mr Clapp said video game tie-ins to blockbuster films were of particular concern.

However the CEA will not follow the US National Association of Theater Owners which has issued new guidelines calling for shorter trailers that give away fewer plot details and are screened nearer to release dates.

The US body has responded to audience complaints about the over-promotion of films by calling for trailers to be restricted to two minutes in length, so that the “pre-show”, including advertisements, does not exceed 20 minutes.

Mr Clapp said: “We are mindful that a balance needs to be struck and we keep this under review. Our feedback suggests that the vast majority of cinema-goers see the ‘pre-show’ as part of the overall experience. Those who prefer not to watch adverts and trailers already choose to come in when the film starts.”

He added: “The trailer should give some idea of the plot and whet the appetite but it should not over-step the mark by becoming a précis of the entire movie.”

The “pre-show” at UK cinemas often extends to 25 minutes and Mr Clapp said he would expect to see no more than five or six trailers before the main event begins.

The length of screen trailers allows exhibitors to make more money from food and drink concessions.

Mr Clapp said: “The importance of screen advertising as a revenue stream is increasing. It’s becoming more important for brands because they have an audience’s undivided attention which you don’t get at home with so many competing attractions.”

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