by Rob Boylan
After a few weeks in a row of using this space to talk about important issues, I'm going to use it for something completely frivolous right now: fucking movie trailers.
Theater owners are kind of a beleaguered group made up almost entirely of cash hungry assholes, but they've got a really good point in their argument against movie trailers. They would like to see fewer trailers on their screens, and shorter ones -- at least 30 seconds shorter if they get their way.
Theater owners are completely right.
And, for once, theater owners and audience members might actually be in accord.
As summer blockbusters ramp up their running times to almost 2 1/2 hours lately, the average trailer running for about 2 1/2 minutes doesn't seem like such a big deal. But when you sit through 6-8 of them before a feature it pads almost 20 minutes onto the running time of the feature film, and because of everyone staying to see the post-credit stingers that reveal who the next villain will be, you can't even shave off the 7 minutes of the credits. The downside to that is that the theater has less time in between shows to clean up after us slobs.
Without trailers, theaters could serve both the audience and themselves by adding one more showing per screen, alleviating some of the opening weekend tension of sold out shows. Of course the studios would rather have all of the shows sold out so they can build bigger buzz about that film. That was actually the genius behind the marketing of Jaws -- Universal lowered the opening screen count to 500 theaters because they wanted shots of people standing in line to get into see Jaws on every nightly news broadcast in the country. They didn't lose any sales because the movie became a must see event, so the people who were shut out just went during the week, or the second weekend, etc. But who really gives a damn what studios want? We just want to see the movies.
But the bigger problem, I feel, is with the trailers themselves. For the most part they suck. They're really bad. Even though I post a ton of them on this post every week, I rarely watch more than the first minute of any trailer. Not only do I not want to see the best parts ("trailer better than the movie" syndrome), I don't want to be swayed by a third party's interpretation of what the film should feel like. More often than not, the director has nothing to do with the trailer. I feel like the one minute mark is just enough time to get a good sense of what the film without ruining for yourself, either by getting too excited or feeling underwhelmed.
Besides, trailers are much easier to watch on the internet these days, and studios are not encumbered by a forced running time for them at all.
News, links, etc:
-RIP Jean Stapleton :/ (THR)
-This is pretty cool. In 1942 Alfred Hitchcock directed a war propaganda picture story for the pages of Life Magazine called Have You Heard? (The Story of Wartime Rumors). (Life)
-Will 2013 be the Year of Black Film? (NY Times)
-10 directors (like John Waters, Edgar Wright and Rian Johnson) on their favorite underrated films. Richard Linklatter's pick is the best, while Kevin Smith picks a goddamn Best Picture Oscar winner. (Flavorwire)
-It's been 15 years since Phil Hartman was murdered. (Vulture)
-Michael Douglas is very candid about the cause of his cancer in this interview. It wasn't smoking or drinking, he says, but HPV transmitted by oral sex. (Guardian)
-How sound is the "After Earth is Battlefield Earth II" argument? One ex-Scientologist explores. (THR)
-Some footage of the diary Heath Ledger kept while he was preparing to play the Joker. (Grandland)
-Richard Linklatter talks about the sad story of Amy Lehrhaupt, the real girl who inspired Celine in the Before... films. (Slate)
-James Lipton is a pimp. Literally. (IndieWire)
-An interview with Saoirse Ronan about transitioning to adult roles. (Guardian)
-The latest 30 for 30 short, Cutrhroat, about ex-Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk and the near-death injury he received in the 80s when his jugular was cut with a skateblade (which is the reason all goalies wear that dangly plastic shield over their necks today). It was a horrific, bloody injury so watch it with caution. (Grantland)
Trailers, posters, etc:
-I really can't wait to see Kick-Heart, the new film from the director of Mind Game. A shame it's only a short though. (Animation Scoop)
-The Kings of Summer, which I also can't wait to see. (Apple)
-A Band Called Death, about one of the earliest punk bands from Detroit that no one ever heard of until a few years ago. (Sound familiar?) (Apple)
-Sundance darling and early Oscar contender Ain't Them Bodies Saints, with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck. (Apple)