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I just came home from watching The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at a nearby theater here in Philadelphia. It's about 1:30am.

I mention the time because I'm not really writing about the movie. It was superb, but I'm steaming pissed at something that happened to me during this particular moviegoing experience, and it's going to have a seriously detrimental effect on my future patronage of movie theaters. I may well boycott them and wait for DVD's for some time to come.

The reason is somewhat bizarre, but it's a result of a trend I've noticed for a while. The theater-going audience has been quiet about it long enough that the management of the theater franchises and the movie marketing kahunas have decided that they can get away with it:

Forty-five (45) minutes of previews.

That's right. The opening time of the movie, as printed on my girlfriend's and my ticket, was 9:15pm. We left the theater at about 1am. That's a little less than four hours. While the movie was three hours, and I'm willing to make that investment of my time in a feature worthy of it, almost an additional hour was added to my investment, without my permission and with absolutely no warning. Not only did I nearly walk out by the time the previews were over (and there were ten of them, not counting the two commercials including a food ad poorly disguised as an art film); the overbearing and obnoxious imposition of the commercial assault truly impacted my enjoyment of the film, for which I waited for a year. I heard this also from my girlfriend and from several other members of the audience.

My girlfriend insightfully pointed out to me that these industry geniuses wouldn't have dared pulled this trick on the audiences viewing a Harry Potter movie, because parents are a highly vocal audience and children simply don't have this kind of attention span, nor tolerance for this kind of media assault. This was a very conscious strategy by the people who decided to do this to us, and not simply part of the trend of an increasing number of previews at movies. This problem has gone from ten to twenty to FORTY FIVE MINUTES. I likely would not have gone to the theater to see even this high-quality film if I'd been warned about this. We paid full adult price for these tickets, equal to a DVD in many cases. I could've paused the DVD, continued it later, used the restroom, grabbed some food.

Both of us forgot why we were in the theater, in all truthfulness, by the time the previews were over. There are issues with the previews themselves, some of which were offensive on their own faults.

If The Two Towers weren't the fantastic film that it is, I would have walked out. It's that simple. If the management were still visibly around by the time we STAGGERED out of the theater, I would have had much to say to them. My next step is to find someone in the cinematic industry - and the specific stratum thereof - to whom to complain loudly about this.

I expect that the moviegoing public is going to demonstrate some anger over this very negative trend. I intend to be one of the leaders of the backlash; my article here is the beginning of my rebellion against yet another form of crass commercial advertising in a place where it is little welcome at the outset.

Forty-five minutes of my time wasted with ten movie previews plus ads is beyond obnoxious or even inethical; it's an arrogant tactic to waste my time and force-feed me with targeted marketing. It's more obnoxious than product placement within the movies themselves, which is now a very old tactic, and it's just as obnoxious as telemarketing. I reiterate that it's an incredibly rude imposition on my time and on my very brain. And I'm still steaming pissed.

Let's make sure the movie industry feels some real heat on this one, friends.

The Alienist

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The following comments are for "Getting Abused at the Movies: Issues with Previews"
by The Alienist

Yes! Someone agrees with me. I hope you managed to have your say to the management, and I also hope you sent this article off to as many newspapers as you could.
Very eloquently written - especially for 1:30 in the morning! ;-)
Score 9/10.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: February 28, 2003 )

Well Put!
You hit the nail dead on with this Alienist. The theatre industry argues that "commercials" are a common practice oversees one that their audience has grown use to and fond of. Yes, the guy I saw on tv said the oversees audience enjoys commercials before a movie.

The point is, I doubt people in eastern Jibip are paying the same price we are for tickets, let alone concessions. Trust me, if I was paying a buck-fifty for a ticket I wouldn't mind, but when a ticket is in the 8 to 10 dollar range then commercials and previews should be eliminated or restricted to 10 minutes.

Oh, by the way, good writing. You captured the frustration of the movie going experience with utter aplomb.:)


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: March 1, 2003 )

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