May 28 2008

19 Minutes

stopwatchWhen I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there was something that actually bothered me more than the movie: The wait time for it to start.

I have not been to the movies since last July, when I had the misfortune of seeing Transformers, and I was unaware that my local theater had now added television commercials before the movie previews. After I was treated to numerous ads for cell phones and cookies, I then got your traditional trailers, and finally the film itself after those. True, the lights in the house dimmed at the advertised starting time of 1:15, I however did not see any actual film footage until 1:34, a full 19 minutes later than the start time.

I know many people have tackled this subject, but now it’s my turn, and I’m angry as spit about this. I know one has to show up early to get a good seat, but as far as I am concerned, that does not mean I can have 19 minutes of my life stolen for advertising. You want to run those TV commercials? Fine, do it before the start time, because running them after is stealing time from me that I did not agree to.

As I said, I expect previews, fine, I don’t always thrill to them, but I’m used to them. Adding ten television commercials on top of that is just cheap in my opinion. I don’t want to come off as some egoist, but I’m sorry, my time is too valuable for this sort of thing. It will definitely factor into my decisions to see more movies. Take the upcoming Sex and the City movie. I’m interested in seeing it, and I’ve heard the running time on it is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Am I to now expected to add 19 minutes on top of that, putting me at 2:34, plus time to drive there, park, buy a ticket, buy a drink… I am not up to close to 3 hours. It’s difficult enough for me to find time see a movie in the theater, let alone watching a bunch of commercials on top of the actual runtime.

In short? Stop it. It’s not fair, nor is it right, for you to force commercials down our throats. I understand theaters have to make money where they can, but it’s not going to be on my time that I did not agree you could take if I can help it.  I mean, I could always show up 10 minutes later if I’m willing to get a worse seat, skip the drink and make you less money, so, your call.

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  • I agree, it makes me want to see a movie less if I have to watch commercials too. I used to be addicted to television, but stopped completely because of commercials. Do they really want to do that to theatre goers also?

  • Jeremy – It just isn’t fair. It’s our time, and unlike at home, we can’t forward through them. I call “foul”.

  • In that case, stay away from Japan. They’ve included TV commercials–as well as independently-produced local-business ads–in the pre-movie trailers here for a very long time, as long as I can remember. 19 minutes is not an unusual time in Japan for the “CM”s to take. I usually budget my time so that I arrive 5 minutes after the movie “starts” so I can get there, find the seat (thank god for pre-reserved seating!), then go out and buy popcorn, and be back in time to see the best trailers they save for last.

    At least in Japan, you usually don’t get the obnoxious pre-darkening slide-show ads/movie trivia presentations.

    Some theaters here actually publish the time when the trailers start and the time when the movie actually starts, and when the movie ends. Quite considerate of them.

  • Luis – If we had a reserved seating system, I’d have no problem with it. I would then just do what you do, and not worry about having to get there and find a good seat first. Maybe some theaters in the USA have reserved seating, but it certainly isn’t mine!

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