Movies have become one of America’s favorite leisure activities. Movies are getting longer, movie theaters are getting more plush and movie ticket prices seem to have leveled off.
But there could be conflict in the theaters’ futures.
NBC has signed a deal with CineMedia, the parent company of Regal, that guarantees moviegoers will be subjected to more elaborate advertisements preceding movies. While Nike and Coca-Cola have been employing this technique for years, the inclusion of a major network into this arena means trouble. And for moviegoers, it means annoyance.
Tentatively called, “promo-tainment,” NBC is planning to coordinate 20-minute packages that blur the line between advertising and entertainment. Twenty minutes? That’s a little much. Many movies, like December’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, ran over three hours already, many moviegoers will not appreciate the lengthening to an already long movie.
And one of the joys of going to the movies is the freedom from commercial interruption. While these new promo-tainment packages will be on the front of the movie, the intrusion of blatant commercial advertising in a movie theater has the potential to ruin the “suspended reality” atmosphere of movies.
NBC’s domination of this captive audience also creates a monopoly situation over the other networks. How long before Fox, ABC and CBS are stringing together their own 20-minute promo-tainment packages? The five-hour movie complete with intermission could be in the movie-going public’s future.
There’s a reason people leave their homes and go to the movies: to see a story larger than life in an atmosphere that cannot be captured from their couch.
To add commercials to the event cheapens the movie experience and demonstrates, yet again, that American business will stoop to any level to get one leg up on the competition.