Friday, January 06, 2006

ConnecticutCon: Cinema Commercials

Link. A CT state rep is introducing a bill that would require movie theaters to advertise the actual start time of the movie. That is the feature start time, as opposed to the time that the commercials and previews run.

I should say that I've never really had a problem with commercials in front of a movie. I don't usually see many of them, so it doesn't bother me that much. And as for that specific form of advertiser known as a trailer,* I actually enjoy seeing them.

I'm kinda anxious regarding this sort of legislation. On the one hand, theater owners are hurting for money, and with the slow phase out of the delay between theatrical release and DVD release, they don't have very good prospects. I like going to movie theaters and seeing a good flick. Or even a so-so flick. It's an enjoyable experience.

Which brings me to my other hand, I am annoyed at how theater owners try to suck the fun out of seeing a movie. By plopping commercials in front of the movie, they're just alienating the audience. But my specific gripe is about snacks. I like to snack at a movie, and if the prices were any better, I would do it with more regularity. I know that they make most of their money off of concessions, but is it really the case that charging 8 bucks for 2 bucks' worth of snacks is a sound economic decision? Doesn't this drive people away from concessions and therefore also the movie theater itself? If the prices were just a tad more reasonable, wouldn't more people want to buy the damn things?

The theater business makes you feel like a sucker for going to the movies. That can't be good for business. While I'm wary of the CT legislation's effect on theater profitability (and therefore longevity), I also think that the theater business would have a lot better time attracting people to itself if it didn't have the tendency to piss on the people who do go.

*So called because they used to come at the end of the show, as opposed to the beginning.


warm fuzzy said...

I have no problem with the previews - I consider those part of the experience and don't actually like it when people talk during them (imagine that). The commercials really bugged me at first becuase I figured I was paying A LOT to be there and A TON to eat there. But, I would gladly accept commercials as long as they 1. don't interrupt the movie, and 2. lower the price of the ticket and/or popcorn & soda cost.

Bottom line -I don't stay away from theaters 'cuz of the commercials. I stay away because it cost too much to go regularly.

scarlet panda said...

This law is silly. Let the market decide. If people really want movies that start on time and are willing to pay for it, theaters will provide on-time starts at a higher cost.

I don't want this, as I am cheap and have a lot of time on my hands. I certainly don't want the legislature to declare this my only option.

That said, those who do want to pay for on-time starts (or who would buy more snacks if the prices were lowered), should do whatever they can to convince the theaters of that, so that the market can operate more efficiently.

Squishy Burrito said...

I can't stand when people go to a movie late and fumble around in the dark trying to find seats. If this passed you would know exactly when it started and people would be late. You would lose the first 5-10 minutes of a movie from people who didn't factor in stop lights and their wife needing to change outfits 3 times. Commercials allow people to slowly drift in so that by the time the trailers start you just have a few stragglers and by the time the movie starts everybody is happily seated (with their cell phones turned off).

The only way to stop this lateness would be if the ticket counter closed 10 minutes before the movie started so that people could get to their seats on time but I hardly think that with waining profits they would turn anyone away.