The Overwhelming Number Of Ads In Theaters

from the it's-staggering dept

Jeremiah writes “Theater owners are looking increasingly towards ad-revenue to turn a profit. Regal currently has the most theaters with the longest ad-run times. Techdirt has discussed this before and of course, nobody in the suits seems to be capable of listening. Someone today linked to a republish of a 1971 Life Magazine: “And the lack of patterns, of easy generalizations, fills the typical movie executive with existential despair. He finds himself living in a universe of pure chance, exhilarating to some philosophers perhaps, but not to him. Instead, he is filled with enervating dread which he expresses, at least for the moment, in the deepest case of paranoia I’ve ever observed among producers. They are lashing out at everyone who could possibly be blamed for their failures — critics, exhibitors, the unions, stars, directors, the goddam recession. Worse, they are filled with a profound desire to do nothing, to wait until some trend emerges so they can once again pretend to be rational merchants making rational judgments on a rational market…”” Not sure where Jeremiah actually got that quote from, but it’s an interesting one. It’s becoming a vicious cycle. The theaters are losing money because people won’t go, so they pump up the ads to make up the revenue — which makes even fewer people want to go. It’s not hard to see how this ends badly.

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Comments on “The Overwhelming Number Of Ads In Theaters”

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Josh (user link) says:

indie theaters don't...

Most of my theater-going is at smaller independently-run theaters. (I’m not being smug about it, it’s just that the three nearest my house are indies.) Whenever I go to a mall theater or multiplex I am shocked anew at the amount of advertising. How is it that the indies (which are reasonably profitable, I assume, as they’re in no danger of going out of business and are well-appointed) don’t feel like they have to do this?


COD says:

No Subject Given

Plus the low cost of putting together a decent home theater and $15 DVDs isn’t helping. I go to 3 or 4 movies a year, but I watch 50 a year in my basement. I’ve got a big screen, a better sound sound system than most theaters, free popcorn, beer, and the floor isn’t sticky.

And they want me to pay $20 to get in the door plus another $20 if I want a coke and popcorn for me and the Mrs.?

I don’t think so.

Cap'n Jeff says:

Re: Theatres...

As a college student, I have no money for even the $7.50 reduced student rate…and that doesn’t include snacks or drinks. $7.50 a pop for just me…That’s a $15 date before dinner or anything else…which is pretty hard to swing on $300 per month…which has to buy me, you know, food? I don’t download or rip DVDs, either, as I do respect the intellectual property of the writers and the actors (the industry can burn in hell…), but Netflix, ahhh Netflix. How do I love thee? With the round-trip time on a DVD being a day and a half if I get it out with the early mail at the on-campus post office, I see 20+ movies a month for $17.99 per month. And they’re delivered to me, where I can watch them, on my admittedly small 17″ screen, but with my badass sound system, and free food, in the comfort of my own bed…it’s just so easy to beat the theatre. And the ads at the theatre when I go…atrocious. How can I change it though, so the two times a year I go I don’t have to watch ads? Boycott? I basically already do that.

Tom says:

Fundamental Change

This is yet another example of the fundamental change in how we, the consumers, want to get (and will get) our content (movies, games, music, etc). It’s the same thing as the inevitable a-la-carte cable programming, the current on-deman cable movies, home theater systems and dvds. The technology is evolving at such a rate that we’ll be able to do everything from home. The demand for such easy-access media will be recognized and fullfilled by some company (I’m betting on Verizon) and movie theaters will close and CDs will become useless even as the movie and music industries are still clawing desperately to hold onto their power. Technology doesn’t just build on the status queue, it goes off in unexpected and exciting directions.

giafly says:

Thet quote ends

“But the movie business never has been notable for courage, vision or intellect. And, no doubt, it will somehow stagger through another year?perhaps several more?in its present form. But it will have to change… It will finally have to cease all pretense of being a mass entertainment industry and start to operate as what it has, in reality, become?a purveyor of (presumptive) art to a relatively small, near-elite audience in which failures should be the honorable failures of striving artists, not the corrupt ones of businessmen who guessed wrong on the latest fashion line.”
?Richard Schickel, Life magazine, Dec. 31, 1971

Unfortunately the movie business is still staggering on, unreformed, 30+ years later. Rarely is a commentator so utterly wrong.

Craig (user link) says:

The answer is very simple...

…and it always works: love your customer and he/she will love you back.

No theater owner who truly loves his patrons is going to subject them to 20 minutes of commercials before the movie. Nor will he ask them to pay $4.50 for a tub of popcorn that costs him $0.10 to produce. Nor will he treat them like criminals without any evidence to suspect them of bad behavior.

There’s an independent theater in Chapel Hill, NC owned by a guy who truly “gets it” (or at least he did when I lived there). First-run movie tickets were inexpensive, free refills were offered on every beverage (the most expensive, a huge vat of cola, was just $2.00), and he personally introduced every movie before it started (yes, it stood in front of the curtain and welcomed folks and said he hoped they enjoyed the show).

Last I heard, that movie theater was going like gangbusters. So, it IS possible to be successful…you just have to love your customers enough to make decisions they’ll appreciate you for.

Howard (user link) says:

If you don't like the ads...

…then don’t go to the theaters that show them. Problem solved. In fact, if anybody is producing an entertainment product you don’t like, then don’t buy it!

Like a prior poster, I have an adequate TV with a DVD, VCR, and a TIVO. If I want to have a fresh-grilled T-bone and a glass of wine with my movie, it’s cheaper than going to a movie house with a sticky floor and eating buttered styrofoam and watered-down whatever-it-is-but-mostly-ice. Plus, if I don’t want my eardrums to hurt, I can adjust the volume! If I want to go visit the toilet, I can pause the action, and not miss any!

Really, folks, aren’t there more important things to get worked up over?

Anonymous Coward says:

The sound of no hands clapping

Who goes to movie theaters anymore? DVDs are cheaper to rent and have more content. You can skip the ads, ff, rewind, pause, etc. You get the best seat in the house. You can play the movie when you want. You don’t have to add a fudge factor to the published time of play and risk missing part of the movie.

Is it any wonder why movie theaters are rapidly losing business and are in danger of going out of business? If movie theaters want to stay in business, they should concentrate more on making the customer happy instead of the advertisers. They’ve already lost me, and I used to go to the theater almost every week back in the 90’s.

Bob says:


It’s kinda hilarious actually, the number of patrons that that now arrive late. In my experience, it’s pretty common for people to sit down 15-20 minutes after a movie’s scheduled start time. The theatre doesn’t start filling up now well into the show.

They do it to avoid the ads. I myself do it too.. I mean, who in their right mind wants to pay good money to watch a commercial? Certainly not I.

So.. let them have fifty or a hundred ads, I don’t care.. I’ll just arrive an hour late if need be to avoid them, as will everyone else. How funny.

William C Bonner (profile) says:

I don't care about the ads.

I go to see a movie, and if I’m alone, I take a book to read while I wait for the movie to start.

I spent a while in europe in the early 90s, I watched a bunch of films in Paris, and the listed two times for every movie. One was the time that the pre-show stuff started, and the other was the time that the actual movie started.

I always thought that this was a really nice feature. (They also sold beer and wine in the concession, which didn’t hurt) I have never understood why the american cinemas cannot get organized like this. It is a pain when you got to the theater and there is a long line at the ticket booth. I dont like missing the first 5 minutes of a movie. If I know that I’m going to be walking into the theater during Previews, that’s fine, but if I’m going to be walking into the middle of the feature, I would rather see a different feature, or not go at all. An unpredictable length of previews means that I can’t tell.

haggie says:

No Subject Given

Only poor people go to movie theaters. It’s so blue collar. No one with any taste or class would be caught dead in a multiplex. It’s just like the people who still shop at malls. How very quaint and 1987 of you…

The operators should be selling Old Style tall boys and Lee Press-On nail kits in the lobby. Sales Rule #1: Know Your Customer!

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Even though I make fun of “The Twenty” every time I go to the local Regal Cinema, these commercials aren’t the reason I don’t go to the theatre. I don’t go because I can wait untill the “basic” DVD is released, rent it, and watch it at home. Netflix & TIVO have made me very picky about what I watch. There is the occasional person who refuses to silence their phone in the theatre, or the guy behind me that actually gets on his phone to make a call. Those reasons don’t stop me from going to watch THE movie I must see in the theatre.

WorkingInDust says:


Let?s see here. $7 – $10 per head. Lousy and sometimes cramped seating and sticky floors. Expensive, stale popcorn with the not so tasty ?butter? flavoring. Why am I shelling out good money to be force fed ads? If the theaters want me to watch their advertising on screen, the least they can do is seriously reduce their price per head for admission, then it would seem a little like television. I liked theaters because it was something you got to watch WITHOUT advertising.

mike-ish says:

Re: Cripes

speaking of television, don’t you hate it when they play TV ads in the theater. a movie screen is a different format from a TV screen. Change the commercial to take advantage of the difference.

I don’t mind previews, I even like them. Let’s me plan when I’m going back to the theater. They can even play the ‘turn off you electronics’ reminders. Just stop with the TV commercials at the theater or I might not come back.

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