December 1 2016

Theaters need to stop stealing my time

I know I am far from the first to complain about this, but the commercials and trailers prior to a film have reached the level of insanity.

I headed to the downtown Odeon in Edinburgh, Scotland today to see Doctor Strange. The film was scheduled for 12:00pm. At 12:23pm I was finally treated to the opening of the film. I was subjected to 23 minutes of my life being stolen from me for advertising.

Let me be very clear here, I know we’re all in the same boat, but for ease I am only referring to myself. My time is worth far too much to me to be wasted in such a way. Trailers have been a part of the movie going experience for years, but less than half of that time was spent showing them, the vast majority of it was TV-style commercials. Four trailers were shown, and with them averaging out to two-and-a-half minutes that places them at 10 minutes of the 23.

This is not acceptable. The only reason to show up early any more is to make sure you get a good seat, but a mid-day showing during the week for a film that has been out for weeks… I was alone in the theater. Yes, I was the only person in this showing and it got to a point where I felt like I was being held prisoner.

It’s time for the exhibitors to start listening to the movie going public. Attendance is down despite what the box office receipts say. You are facing growing competition from streaming services and home video sales. If you continue down this road there will simply be zero reasons left to go the theater. I paid to see a movie, not 23 minutes of advertisements. Plopping down $14 to $20 for a new release on iTunes is looking a lot more appealing to me.

Odeon isn’t alone in this by a long shot, but you’re the latest so you get my wrath.

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  • 23 minutes of trailers and commercials is a lot,

    At my local Cineplex, in Canada we usually have about 5-10 mins of trailers and commercials before the movie, so even if the showing is 7pm, the movie won’t actually start until 7:05-7:10pm, and some of the theatres of this pre-show interactive game called TimePlay, where you answer trivia questions using your phone and you can win Scene points (which is a free rewards program) and you use scene points to redeem for free movies (you also get points when you buy tickets, you get about 100 with each ticket transaction) and 1000 Scene points for a standard movie, 1,500 Scene points for a 3D movie.

    Also, is it worth seeing Doctor Strange in theatres? Or just wait for iTunes/Blu-Ray?

    • I really enjoyed it, but you can wait for it like most Marvel films.

  • Luis Poza

    In Japan they have the same thing with ads (though to a lesser degree), but they also have the decency to always know and post the actual film start time. When you buy the tickets, ask when that time is, they tell you. Seats are almost all pre-assigned, so you can still buy the best seats in advance and then walk in the as the movie is about to start.

    They even don’t bust you for bringing in outside food and drink, and now late shows start as early as 9pm for just 10 bucks—as opposed to the standard $18 they used to charge. So, oddly, movies are getting *better* in Japan, not worse!

    • We haven’t totally hooked into the assigned seating thing. And if we did, I would be way cooler with the ads as I would know I could show up later. Right now it just feels like complete time theft and that I don’t appreciate.