Flying United Airlines over an ocean this month? Care to watch “Poseidon” to wile away the time?
Traditionally, airlines have shied away from disaster fare and intense action titles, preferring to soothe passengers with romantic comedies, lighthearted storylines and kid-friendly pics.
But with the advent of individual screens and, in the latest twist, video on demand , airlines are offering an edgier and more scintillating selection of films. Even pics like “Brokeback Mountain” and “Transamerica” are playing in the skyplex.
There’s never been a hard-and-fast rule about what is or isn’t allowed on a plane, but most airlines have adhered to self-imposed guidelines.
Movies about plane crashes, hijackings or inflight trouble are still taboo. Passengers — at least in America — aren’t likely to see “Snakes on a Plane,” although the pros and cons of allowing such a thing was a hot topic at last month’s annual gathering of the World Airline Entertainment Assn. in Miami.
Every territory is different in terms of what they’ll leave in or edit out. U.S. carriers will edit for sex and profanity, but allow violence. European airlines — reflecting Euro ratings sensibilities — go the opposite direction.
Two of the top airlines for inflight entertainment are Emirates out of United Arab Emirates and Singapore Airlines. Beginning this past July, passengers on certain Singapore planes had 80 films to choose from. This month’s offerings on Singapore and Emirate are topped off by the same new releases almost every other carrier are playing, including “The Break-Up,” “Cars” and “Click.”
The competition for passengers has never been fiercer, and inflight entertainment is viewed as one way to lure customers.Richard Branson‘s Virgin Atlantic also has been at the leading edge of inflight entertainment. Last week, Virgin America — Virgin Atlantic’s new U.S. airline, which goes into operation next year — inked deals with Disney, Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. to provide entertainment at every seat and on every flight.
Virgin also turns out to be the filmmaker-friendly airline, proud of the fact that it shows movies in their entirety.