That’s why the National Association of Theater Owners (aka “the other NATO”) has released a set of voluntary guidelines aimed at keeping movie trailers short and sweet, or at least to a maximum of two minutes.
“Trailers shall not exceed two minutes in length,” read the guidelines. “Two exemptions per year per distributor, with a maximum length of 3 minutes, based on the theatrical release date of the film being advertised.”
When a NATO member exhibitor plans on cashing in one of those exemptions, it has to notify the Association via e-mail, but only for actual trailers. The length of non-trailer content like behind-the-scenes footage is to be negotiated with individual exhibitors.
Another growing concern with theater owners are trailers and other marketing materials for movies that are not coming out anytime soon. It’s become commonplace to see a teaser preview for a predicted blockbuster more than a year before its release.
So the new guidelines state that theaters should not show trailers for movies that will not be released within 150 days, and that all in-theater marketing materials (posters, cardboard cut-outs, etc.) should not be placed more than 120 days before a scheduled release date. Again, theaters are given only a couple of exemptions a year, about which they are supposed to tell NATO in advance.
NATO is also requiring that studios put targeted release dates on all marketing materials and trailers. The rules don’t specify if things like “Summer 2014” or just simply “2015” would satisfy this condition.
It will be interesting to see whether movie studios abide by these rules or just tell NATO and the exhibitors that they will take whatever trailers they are given or take nothing at all.