Theaters Working To Make Even The Pre-Show Ads More Entertaining

from the good-for-everyone dept

Two different themes we've discussed here quite often are (1) that movie theaters need to stop worrying about piracy, and focus more on improving the moviegoing experience and (2) that advertising is content -- and it better be good content if you want the advertising to be effective. That's why it's somewhat encouraging to see that movie theaters are now experimenting with much more entertaining and interactive "pre-show" advertising. They're doing things like using motion sensors to have the audience "play" a game as a group, or having them use their mobile phones to vote on certain questions on the screen and immediately showing the results. That latter example may be doubly surprising considering how theaters these days are so anti-mobile phone. Still, while this is a move in the right direction, it's the wrong thing to be focusing on at this point. Improving the overall experience is much more important than making the pre-show ads better, so hopefully this is only one small part of what theaters are working on these days.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Matt, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Ugh!

    I'm still pissed that there is preshow advertising at all, considering the ridiculous price of tickets.

     

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      DittoBox, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 1:47pm

      Re: Ugh!

      When studios leech 90% of the gross ticket price from the theater the opening weekend the theaters need to make money somehow.

       

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    Nasch, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    It's a relief

    I just saw a movie, and while it didn't have any interactive content at the beginning, the ads were almost all creative and entertaining. There was one (IMO) boring, same-old soft drink commercial, but compared to when I would grit my teeth and consider complaining to the management that I was paying to watch commercials, the rest of them were a pleasant surprise. Then again, maybe others found the ads I liked to be a boring waste of time, but it was at least apparent that they're trying something more than just moving TV spots into the movie theater.

     

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    Bob, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    I will accept advertising at a movie when they can get the things framed and focused. Oh and appropriate sound levels to allow pre-show conversation would be great too.

    The last two movies I went to were out of focus and out of frame. When I went to tell someone, they looked at me like I asked for free popcorn. The last movie I had to go out twice during the movie before they would fix anything.

    Fix the movie experience and I don't care what content you throw at me before the movie.

     

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    Jeff, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Too little, too late for some

    I have a huge TV, a nice surround-sound system and a comfy couch. The last time I was in a movie theater was 4 years ago and I'll probably never go to one ever again, unless it's for a presentational meeting for my job.

    Movie theaters are, for the most part, out-dated, badly managed and don't make for a very good time, as far as experiencing a movie goes. Making the advertising that you see before a movie more entertaining is sort of a step in the wrong direction, or at least blatantly ignoring the real issues that people have with going to see movies in a theater. You might as well tell someone that even though you're going to slam their dick in a car door, you're going to tickle their balls with a feather beforehand.

    Clean up the pee/vomit, mercilessly kick out the talkers, tone down the air conditioning and we'll see.

     

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      Rose M. Welch, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 7:45pm

      Re: Too little, too late for some

      ...tone down the air conditioning...


      Oh, my God, I agree! I try to take a blanket to movies now and I get weird looks and my husband is embarrassed. But I'm fucking cold!

       

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    OKVol, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 1:04pm

    Too much crud

    Six commercials pre-show for WALL*E last night. Two were repeated, for a count of four unique ones. It was as bad as TBS...

    Also, a long one by the National Guard show how they were part of the Revolution and assisting in disasters.

     

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    Brooks, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    I'll pay to avoid ads

    Open a theater that has reasonable pre-show entertainment, and I will cheerfully go 20 minutes early to see it (and probably spend $20 for a popcorn and a drink). There's no scenario where I will seek out ads, period.

    Right now my strategy is to get to the theater 5 minutes after the advertised show time. Of course, I don't get a great seat, and sometimes I still get advertising, and sometimes I miss a few minutes of the movie. Those things combined probably contribute to the fact that I now see 2-3 movies a year in the theater, whereas 5 years ago I probably say 10-15 a year.

    It's true that advertising should be entertaining if it must exist, but many of us will spend a price premium (in the form of higher ticket prices or more concession purchases) to avoid it altogether.

     

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    Beefcake, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    Cell phone voting

    That latter example may be doubly surprising considering how theaters these days are so anti-mobile phone. Actually, I think it might benefit as it helps make sure people's minds are engaged about their 'phones right before the movie starts, and it gives them a reason to have them out so they can silence them. This does more than the little message displayed on the screen which is universally ignored because it isn't interesting (which is the point of the post in the first place.) My two cents on the eve of a long weekend. Keep your fingers, everyone.

     

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      Eric the Grey, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 5:30pm

      Re: Cell phone voting

      Personally, I like this idea. If they are afraid of cell phones, they could always add a short "Ok, now turn your phones off and enjoy your movie" message right at the end of said interactivity.

      I'd love to see some kind of interactivity at the theater.


      EtG

       

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      BTR1701, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:20am

      Re: Cell phone voting

      > and it gives them a reason to have them out so they can silence them.

      People don't turn their phones off because they've forgotten about them. People don't turn them off because they think the world is all about them and *their* calls are more important than everyone else's. "Turning off phones is something everyone else should do, not me."

      I bit the bullet and went and saw "Indiana Jones" in a theater a few weeks ago instead of waiting for the DVD like I do most movies and it was ridiculous. Three different people not only had their phones ring during the movie, but all three *took the call* and started yakking away right there in the seats-- and when the movie got louder, so did they so they could be heard over the soundtrack.

      One teenage asshole even went so far as to start playing his mp3s out loud on his iPhone during the parts of the movie he found boring-- basically anything without explosions. He just turned on the music and sat back chatting with his girlfriend. I've never seen anything like it. Of course it's situations like that that make being a cop rather convenient. Tell the kid to turn it off once and after you get the finger, yank him up and start putting the cuffs on him for disturbing the peace. His "fuck everyone" attitude suddenly disappears and the tears and begging and apologies take its place real quick.

      Bottom line, that's the last movie I'll go to in a theater for the foreseeable future. My home theater's visual and audio capabilities rival a theater presentation without any of the crap-- babies crying, people talking, cell phones ringing, parking charges, lines, uncomfortable seats, traffic, drive time-- none of it. I can watch the movie only with the people I like and if I have to go to the restroom or take a call myself, I can stop the movie and do it at my convenience without missing anything.

       

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    jonnyq, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Games

    I played a group game like this while waiting in line in Disney World. It was a lot of fun and get the crowd doing something other than sitting around.

    But the quality was pretty bad. If you're able to identify your personally little blob on the screen and start waving to pop the balloons (or whatever it is in the game), it seems woefully inaccurate. The most fun was the racing game where the crowd steers by leaning. I don't see how that would work on a theater, though, with one crowd. (Waiting in line, there were multiple screens parallel to a long line.) It's a good time waster, but not fantastic.

     

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    Brad, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Here's my take on this. I don't care how freakin' entertaining the ads are, I just want less of them. The last two times I've been to the theater, I had to to endure a whopping half hour (read: 30 MINUTES) of trailer previews and corny theater ads before the movie I paid to see actually started. That is from the advertised movie start time until the time the movie actually began. I can understand 10 or 15 minutes, but 30 minutes is absolutely outrageous!!! I remember when they showed just two or three trailers, a quick reminder to turn off your cell phones, and then movie started. Um, yes, we know the theater is a digital theater. It looks great. We don't need a 5-minute commercial with a dozen corny testimonials from "actual customers" to tell us that. If anything, that makes me want to not want to come back to that theater even more so.

    Another thing I seem to recall that while waiting for Kung Fu Panda to start (great movie btw), some of the trailers being shown had more adult-oriented ratings than the movie I actually paid to see. I would not want to take my kids to see a clean movie only to have them watching previews with nasty stuff in them. That is completely unacceptable. Trailers shown in a particular theater should never exceed the rating of the feature movie you've come to see, for obvious reasons. Plus, they should be relevant to the type of film you're seeing as well.

    There are movies I still want to see on the big screen, but I am going to think twice before going to the theater again and having to sit through all that crap. My home theater is pretty darn nice now with a 40" LCD and surround sound, the couches are much more comfortable than the theater chairs, and the snacks are a heck of a lot cheaper.

    If the theaters honestly think they can "improve" the experience by constantly inflating snack prices far beyond what I consider reasonable and increasing the amount of ads one has to sit through while already having paid an arm and a leg for the ticket and above-mentioned snacks, then they are indeed going to die a slow, miserable death.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 5:09pm

      Re: by Brad

      Amen Brad! I'll give ya ten bucks to sit on the floor, if you'll share your junior mints. (Junior Mints is a registered trademark of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. used without permission, though in sincere admiration....please don't sue.)

       

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    Anonymous Howard, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:34pm

    People still go to movie theaters? For real?

    I think I'd rather scrape my skin off with a wooden spoon.

     

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    John, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 3:38pm

    Ads

    I don't mind seeing a few (meaning 4 or 5) trailers before a movie, but I've enough with the commercials which were literally shown on TV the night before!

    I know theater owners want to make money by selling commercial space, but can't commercial-makers at least *try* to make something different for theater-goers?

    If I wanted to see TV commercials, I'll stay at home. Heck, if I don't want to see ANY commercials, I'll get the movie from "In Demand".
    I was about to say "get the movie on DVD", but we all know how loaded DVD's are with commercials and trailers, and other junk you can't skip.

     

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    Todd, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 4:06pm

    Are we talking about pre-show like the stuff that plays at 9:30 for a 9:30 showing, or the stuff that plays at 9:15 for a 9:30 showing? Big difference. I think most of the comments here are about the former, not the latter.

     

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      Eric the Grey, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 5:37pm

      Re:

      It seems to me that people are talking about the former, rather than the latter.

      Personally, movie previews are part of the movie-going experience, even IF they are still ads. I like to see the big-screen trailers of upcoming movies, most of the time. Even if it's a movie that I'd never consider watching in a million years.

      I think of ads at the theater, I think of the stuff that gets played before the scheduled start time. I have only rarely seen true ads after that point.


      EtG

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 4:57pm

    Why even go to a theater anymore! You end up wasting money on a half-assed movie with pathetic CGI; with highly anticipated preview-scenes not even being in the final cut. Go out and buy a HD Director's Special Edition six months later and watch it at home with ZERO commercials.

     

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    BTR1701, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:05am

    Fantastic

    > or having them use their mobile phones to vote on certain
    > questions on the screen and immediately showing the results.

    That's wonderful. All we need is more people encouraged to pull those little hellish gadgets out in a movie theater.

     

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    Ulle, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Darn it I miss the drive-in theaters, sitting in my dads 53 merc with my date snuggled up next to me, 6 pack of beer hidden under the seat, the movies may have been garbage but we sure did enjoy going to the movies.

     

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    BruceShining, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 2:33pm

    Ads suck -- especially army ads

    I hate the advertising. I've grown to accept (and sometimes enjoy) the trailers; but the ads are just an invasion. My pet peeve: I think the US uses its military as a bully tactic: killing innocents (and some bad guys) and ruining cultures and economies (including our own). War is always a net negative. So when I have to sit and watch an add for how great the army is, I just want to puke. They show those ads on TV too, but at least I can change the channel or turn off the TV. It just really pisses me off at the theater.

     

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    Steve, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 1:16pm

    "or having them use their mobile phones to vote on certain questions on the screen and immediately showing the results."

    ***Only 50 cents per answer, 25 dollar minimum.***

     

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 5th, 2008 @ 1:26pm

    I remember...

    "I remember when they showed just two or three trailers, a quick reminder to turn off your cell phones, and then movie started."

    I remember when they used to play cartoons before the main event.

    They didn't remind anybody to turn off their cell phones, but then, cell phones hadn't been invented yet. :)

     

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    net625, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 4:41am

    I still like going to the movies with my friends. Recently I realized that I am the only one of my RICH friends who doesn't through my drink on the ground at the end and then walk out. I think people need to learn a bit more respect. But if you pay $10 for a ticket and then $5 for that drink then I think you have a right to through it on the ground because you paied for that experience and thats what you get. I think that the theaters need to change and get a bit cheeper before people stop complaining. Another thing that would help the theater industry is some good movies. And interactivity would be great. Because in the past I have considered taking my iPod out so that I could listen to some music I got board during the movie. I didn't because it makes me look like an ass hole. But I am still willing to go to a theater vs downloading off the internet because of instant gratification. I would also say that at times that the projection is way off the screen and I would say they could start with that fix that takes about five minutes or less to accomplish. I don't complain about it because the actual movie is fine but if your going to have adds it would be nice to see all of them. Asside from that I have no complaints.

     

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    Lucretious, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 6:14am

    Just watched Tarantinos Grindhouse movies last night. The fake trailers were utterly amazing and hilarious. Also, the retro vibe of the theater mesasage parts ruled. THATS how it should be done.

     

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    Scott, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 3:46am

    Complaining about the wrong part

    Ticket prices are ok. It's concessions that are ridiculous.

     

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