That’s one of several recommendations in the voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines released this morning by the National Association of Theatre Owners. “These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands,” the trade group says. NATO wants trailers for a movie to run no more than 150 days before it’s released, with other in-theater marketing limited to 120 days — although each distributor would have two exemptions a year from those guidelines. NATO says that it will be the “information clearinghouse” for distributors to identify the films that they want to be exempt. Trailers for those releases still wouldn’t be able to exceed three minutes. In addition to the limits on timing, the NATO standards would require distributors to sit down with exhibitors to negotiate terms for showing special content — such as behind-the-scenes footage and extended looks. NATO also expands on the current ratings match policies saying that members “will only place trailers with content appropriate for the particular feature” following guidelines it has established with the MPAA. Trailers can’t include third-party brands or endorsements, for example for video games or TV shows, and can’t include direct response prompts including Internet URLs or codes that might “encourage mobile phone use during the show.” The standards would apply to films released on or after October 1, with an exception for movies that are already being advertised. Central to the rules is NATO’s conclusion that trailers “are played in the theaters at the discretion of each theater chain or individual theater owner.”
In a curious addition, NATO makes it clear that it holds film checkers and auditors in low regard. As though written for a class of middle school students on a field trip, the guidelines say that they must notify theater managers when they want to see what’s going on and “must be professional in dress and demeanor, and be respectful of the management team’s time.” They also must “wear proper identification and have an approved letter from the distributor, or they will be asked to purchase a ticket.” In any case they can’t “take up a seat in the auditorium” or “interact with guests” and — once they’re done — “may not watch the film/event.” Those who fail to abide by the rules “will be asked to leave the complex.”
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