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TOPIC: Later and Later

Later and Later 22 Sep 2002 17:25 #23491

  • muviebuf
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In the last 3 to 4 years I have noticed an accelerating and disturbing trend with my audience.

It seems that the bulk of the audience(70- 80%) now comes within the 10 minutes just before the advertised showtime with another 10 -15% consistently showing up after the show has started. This of course hurts concessions sales people don't want to wait in a line when the show is starting.

10 to 12 years ago when I was a dollar house and would sell my 450 seats out with some regularity (before megaplex mania added some 125 additional screens within a 15 mile radius!)people would line up an hour before the show start time to be assured of getting a seat.

Today if I have a capacity crowd it is inevitable that at least 20% of this audience will show up 15 minutes after the show has started and be visibly upset that I don't have the seats where and when they want them.

Compounding the problem is the fact that many of the national chains in my area routinely run 20 minutes of "fill" (trailers, paid ads and those awful corporte plugs [AT AMC there is a difference}]. The audience has become conditioned to having that extra 20 minutes & when they arrive at my venue (where we only run one trailer and the sound logo) they are upset that the feature has been on for 15 minutes. Some refuse to come in.

This weekend when it rained all weekend the phenonemon seemed particuary bad. It was as if people were tired of being couped up and at the last minute decided to go to the show. On Saturday night a good 15% of the audience showed up a half-hour into the show.

Anyohne else notice the same trend?
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Re: Later and Later 23 Sep 2002 08:27 #23492

  • BECKWITH1
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Absolutely!

Our competition also runs 10-20 minutes of trailers and people schedule themselves to arrive at the end of the trailers. Unfortunately, we run only 2 trailers unless mandated more and we tell them that the movie has been running for X minutes when they buy tickets. Do they still want to come in? They usually do though. Hopefully they learn.
Yes we still have the problem of most people showing up 10 minutes or less before the start of the film which makes the concession stand work harder. Perhaps it is because of the short time between shows that I see regularly among other theaters. They have tried to show up early but the theater wasn't ready for them so now they show up later? I don't know.

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Re: Later and Later 23 Sep 2002 10:08 #23493

  • John Pytlak
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It sounds like running a few more trailers might help. Your audiences evidently expect the twenty or so minutes of trailers and ads before the show that other theatres are showing, so adding a few extra trailers would help advertise your upcoming films, and not cost you anything but the time to do it. The other suggestion might be to run a short subject or cartoon if you can get them.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: 585-477-5325 Cell: 585-781-4036 Fax: 585-722-7243
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Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: Later and Later 23 Sep 2002 10:48 #23494

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John,

These people are trying to avoid the trailers. I don't believe in doing more of what they are already walking away from.
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Re: Later and Later 23 Sep 2002 12:02 #23495

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My point was that the audience is timing their arrival in expectation that all theatres have similar trailer/preshow timing. So if you add trailers, your schedule will match other theatres, and people will schedule accordingly. The problem originally outlined was that people are missing the beginning of the film and being disappointed because they assumed about 20 minutes of trailers and ads.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: 585-477-5325 Cell: 585-781-4036 Fax: 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: Later and Later 23 Sep 2002 16:36 #23496

  • RoxyVaudeville
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John.

I'm sorry to say that that is not the answer to the problem. Adding trailers to a 2nd run theatres schedule can do more harm then good. In addition to what has already been said about many people not wanting to see all those trailers is the fact that most 2nd run single screen theatres will not get to play many of the films in the marketplace. Many of the films they don't want to play. Therefore, there is a limited amount of trailers that they would want to play. The policy of running trailers of films you may never play is ridicules. It gives the audience the impression that they will play the theatre and when they don't they are mad because they waited for that theatre to play them, and when they didn't they had missed them altogether. Once the 2nd run is done they are gone, and the patrons are forced to watch them on video. Not good.

Also you must realize (hopefully you do) that it has become very difficult for subrun theatres to even get trailers. When I try to order a trailer for something that I know that I will play... 50% of the time the trailer is no longer available.

As to the trailers that are attached to the beginning of the feature. I know of no 2nd run theatre that plays those trailers. We all cut them off, and often save them if it's a picture that we think we will play. Many of those trailers are again for films that we will never play, and will as mentioned earlier only confuse our patrons into thinking that we will be playing them.

The other problem that comes from playing more then one trailer is that the public for some reason expects every trailer they see to be the next attraction, and then comes only to find that the one they wanted to see isn't playing yet. Unlike the 1st run megaplexes that don't use any daters, I and many other subruns still use the pactice of using daters to let people know what our schedule is going to be. I have found even with using daters if you run more then one trailer many people get confused. As an example if I run trailers for my next two pictures, this is how they would be made up: Previews of Coming Attractions, Coming Soon, appropriate trailer, 10 sec. of black film, Our Next Attraction, Starts Friday, Appropriate Trailer, Remember this Attraction Starts Friday, Our Feature Presentation, Feature. Even set up that way, I will get numerous people coming the following week to see the film of the first trailer that was listed as Coming Soon. There comment usually is... "but it said right after the trailer Our Next Attraction, Starts Friday." DA! This is the reason why we only generally use one trailer. There are too many dumb people out there. I assume they never go to the first runs. Boy would they be confused then.

The practice of running all those trailers is something that has come about since the birth of the multiplex. Why should we be forced to follow there lead. We were here long before them. We still use the long entrenched standard policies that single screen theatres used for decades. I personally don't get many latecomers, but when I do I hear that comment..."but aren't the previews still playing?"

My suggestion is... when listing showtimes in the paper, or on the phone or website or wherever, instead of just putting 7:00, 9:00 PM, why not put: Features at 7:00, 9:00 PM. That's what was done years ago when theatres played continuious with a cartoon, short, trailer, newsreel etc. That way people knew when the FEATURE was starting.

The trailer situation is just another example of how the industry today is geared only for 1st run theatres. Ever notice how many trailers are made with the release date or time in the trailer: Starting May 15th, Coming Summer 2002, Coming this Thanksgiving etc., and the trailers are not designed to edit those dates off as they often mention the date or time on the soundtrack as well. Of course the one sheet posters are just as bad as most have the opening date printed on them as well. As I have not played "Men In Black II" yet, every day I hear people come in, look at the poster and say to each other... wow, they're not going to play that until Next July! The studios do an excellent job of making subrun theatres look really stupid.

[This message has been edited by RoxyVaudeville (edited September 23, 2002).]
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Re: Later and Later 24 Sep 2002 11:44 #23497

  • poppajoe
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Sadly I have also been a victum of this current trend. I fear that a large percent of those late arrivals may be bringing in their own snacks as not many of them are bothering to stop by the concession stand. I may try running more trailers, but how does that effect those people who have arrived early and want the feature to start. Seems to be a Catch-22 situation.
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Re: Later and Later 24 Sep 2002 22:45 #23498

  • trackfood
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This is how it works in my area. Lets say you advertise the Banger Sisters to start at 7:00. At 7:00 the previews start. They may last between 10-15 minutes.Then the feature begins. People in our area know that there will be between 10-15 minutes worth of previews, so if they are running a little late, they know that they probably haven't missed much if any of the feature.Some people love previews, some people don't. I think 10 minutes is a decent amount. Thats not too many, it gives a few minutes for someone who may be running late, and gives a few minutes for those people who enjoy the previews. Now, some of you have said "why would I show a preview for a movie I might never get" WHY NOT- We're here to entertain the public. If they see a preview for a movie that they may like, and don't necessarily come to your theatre to see the movie, WHO CARES, at least we have gotten them into the habit of going to a movie as entertainment. Maybe the next time it will be a movie at your theatre. The #1 advertising means for the movies is PREVIEWS.
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Re: Later and Later 25 Sep 2002 01:19 #23499

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Amen trackfood.

Get them to the movies by any means necessary. The more they go to the movies, the more likely they are to end up right back where they saw the preview in the first place.

Dangerously,

Gravity's Dog

[This message has been edited by Gravity's Dog (edited September 25, 2002).]
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Re: Later and Later 25 Sep 2002 16:14 #23500

  • BECKWITH1
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I disagree with those of you who believe that 10 - 20 minutes of trailers and other rolling stock ads is desirable. You are entitled to your opinion but I think that we as an industry need to be very careful here.

We sell a service to our customers: namely a feature presentation along with a certain magical experience - a night out away from the kids and other distractions, a date night with someone special, just something to do, etc. We work very hard to get the right combination of factors together to make the experience special enough that people will choose to go out to the movies rather than staying at home and doing something else which might include watching TV or a video.

My husband and I are the owners and also the faces that our customers see regularly. They tell us what they like and what they don't like about all their movie experiences. There are a few people who actually do like to see previews of coming attractions, but no one has ever suggested that they like to see advertising a la rolling stock ads, etc. I have many more people who tell me that they don't like to see too many trailers. They don't mind a few and I will leave everyone here to determine what a few is, but they are making decisions based on their preferences. A few people tell me that they don't arrive at the theater or sit in the lobby until the trailers are done.

Multiplex theaters tend to receive an avalanche of trailers from the distributors. Independent theaters receive significantly fewer trailers. I feel like I have hit the jackpot when a new release comes in with 7 previews. But that does not mean that they are all suitable to run with the movie that I have or will have. We all know that audiences are much more sensitive to what previews are now shown with G and PG rated movies. That also does not mean that the preview before an R rated film such as Kiss the Girls should include Big Fat Liar or perhaps Return to Neverland just to name some unlikely combinations of the top of my head. I seldom have the trailer or poster that I need at the time when it would do the most good for promoting a movie. Alas!

I have worked in multiplexes, I have also associated with people who currently do. Most multiplexes are owned by chains because of the cost of building and running them. (Those of you with twins and triplexes I am not including you in this category - I am thinking bigger). Most multiplex customers do not come face to face with anyone who controls the decision about how many trailers are placed before their movies. While I am not claiming to be an expert about multiplex policies I believe that most of these decisions are made by the top brass at the chain. If not there then by the local manager who may not come into contact with comments from customers. Lastly, the projectionist may make the decision on how many trailers and projectionists seldom have a lot of conversations with customers.
Multiplex customers are telling me what they think about the number of trailers.
I think that we should be seriously worried about the number of people arriving late and the number of people that are not arriving at all because they are tired of being shown ads. They comment that they could stay at home and watch TV and get the same ads. Don't look at them as a captive audience as the advertisers would have you believe.

There is another new wrinkle to this debate that is bothering me and that is that distributors are now essentially paying to have their trailers placed in front of customers. One example of this is the Fox Rewards contest where managers earn points for playing Fox trailers. This can and does get abusive of the customers. The customer is not being considered in the equation. The important point is to get as many Fox points as possible and forget about serving the needs of the people sitting in the audience. I personally am aware of one theater that plays 7-8 trailers on the front of every film in order to get Fox points. I am also aware of some other deals arranged between studios and specific chains and we are all aware of the trailers which come attached to a blockbuster with orders from the studio to run or else!


To be continued... out of time now. Sorry about this!

[This message has been edited by BECKWITH1 (edited September 25, 2002).]
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Re: Later and Later 25 Sep 2002 23:35 #23501

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No one is saying you should have 10-15 minutes worth of rolling stock ads or commercials. I hate those things too. BUT, we are marketing movies, so I don't think 3-4 trailers (10 mins or so) is out of line. If you are having trouble getting trailers (you should always be able to get something from one of the film companies)-otherwise develop a relationship with a multiplex in your area, and take their castoffs. In regards to FOX rewards points, the manager doesn't get points for every FOX trailer played, so that point is a bit exagerrated. They say that every theatre is checked a minimum of once per year for fox trailers, and if you are playing what they requested AND THEY SEE IT, then you get some points. IN five years I have never gotten points this way.
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Re: Later and Later 26 Sep 2002 00:44 #23502

  • BurneyFalls
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I hate rolling advertisements. I, too, believe if the industry continues to put rolling ads on screen before the trailers we are asking for trouble. I don't watch TV because I hate commercial breaks. I certainly don't want to pay money to go to the theatre and see commercials. I can deal with the slides before showtime, especially if there is some good trivia thrown in. But rolling stock is just obnoxious. I personally like trailers, but more than four is too many, even for me.

I would say about 75% of my customers come to my place from five minutes before showtime to five minutes after. It irritates me that they do that, but when I go to another theatre, I'm usually just as bad. Last night I went to the movies in another town. They started their rolling stock about five minutes before showtime. Maybe that is the answer... Play everything, including trailers, before showtime and have the feature start at the actual designated time. If all theatres did that I think the customers would learn to be more prompt.
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Re: Later and Later 26 Sep 2002 08:48 #23503

  • Mike
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I was just saying to Large (Ian) who was here in Maine sailing and touring the extensive campus of www.bigscreenbiz.com "Where's Roxy? I have not seen him post in a while?" Little did I know he was typing away!

In my book: if people kept walking in my door surprised that the film had started and it bothered me I would a. start the movie later but don't tell them or B. run more trailers. 1 or 2 trailers is too little. I like trailers even if I am not going to see the movie. And folks: the person in your seat looking at your trailer is the single best advertsing you can ever do.

In Europe they advertise: Primi 7:30(before the show a show of witty commercials and trailers) and then SHOWTIME! 8:00 Lights come up for a moment and then right back down and the movie starts. Perhaps your customers need to know the showtime?

But in any event: more trailers. 3 min 4 max.

Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: Later and Later 01 Oct 2002 16:39 #23504

  • Rialto
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I agree that rolling stock ads and slides for that matter are distasteful. Adding more trailers isn't the solution. The solution is educating your audience that your theatre doesn't have 10 - 20 minutes of junk on the front. Don't get me wrong, trailers are very important, but only for movies you are going to be showing in your theatre. Why promote something that your customer is going to pay someone else to see? I would include information on when the show starts (ie our features include 2 previews maximum, so plan to arrive on time if you want to wee the whole show) on your recording, website, e-mail, flyers, ads, etc. Differentiate your theatre by not conforming to how the chains do it. Our advantange in being independent exhibitors is that we can respond quicker than the big chains to the needs of our market because we are small and don't have to have policies that work in every market.
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