×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Auds balk at bigscreen blurbs

27% say they attend less because of commercials

Pre-show ads in cinemas may be dampening box office, according to a consumer survey released Wednesday by market research firm InsightExpress.

Of the moviegoers surveyed, 53% said that they wanted exhibs to stop showing commercials, while 27% said they go to the movies less because of the blurb barrage that now opens films on many screens. By comparison, just 13% said they liked the onscreen ads.

A previous InsightExpress study looked at consumer attitudes toward DVDs that feature ads or trailers that can’t be fast-forwarded through and found 54% were frustrated by that feature; 16% said they were angry.

InsightExpress prexy Lee Smith said the similarity between that and onscreen ads is that in both instances, people believe the money they’ve paid to watch a film should mean they don’t have to sit through ads.

“People do get angry when they feel they are being forced to consume commercials,” he said. “They are paying money to go and experience something, and they don’t have the ability to control what messages they receive.”

The movie ad study also found 52% considered the ads intrusive, while 71% thought theaters should charge less for tickets if they are going to show ads.

As exhibs look for new revenue streams beyond ticket and concession sales, several large chains have zeroed in on in-theater ads as a way to bolster the bottom line.

Cinema Advertising Council reported exhibs collected $356 million last year from onscreen and lobby ads, a 37% jump from 2002 (Daily Variety, June 13).

The nation’s largest chain, Regal Entertainment, has been particularly bullish about the blurb biz, with its CineMedia unit reporting 15% revenue growth during the first three quarters of 2004.

But movie studios nearly uniformly condemn the bigscreen blurbs. “I hate them,” said 20th Century Fox distrib prexy Bruce Snyder. “Get rid of them all. We’d rather see trailers.”

New Line distrib chief David Tuckerman was not surprised by the InsightExpress study results. “I’ve never liked commercials in theaters. I don’t think they belong there.”

Exhibs’ big push to turn movie screens into an advertising medium comes at a time when overall movie attendance has been shrinking. According to Exhibitor Relations, attendance is down 2.3% so far this year, following a 4.3% drop in 2003. Over the same period, total box office receipts have been flat, as a downturn in attendance has been masked by an 8% jump in ticket price, from an average of $5.80 in 2002 to $6.25 this year.

Exhibitor Relations’ Paul Dergarabedian said if onscreen blurbs turn off moviegoers, it eventually will hurt exhibs.

“Exhibitors need every bit of revenue stream they can get,” he said. But a diminishing aud “doesn’t just hurt the in-theater commercial market, it hurts the movies and it hurts concession sales.”

Nonetheless, exhibs maintain auds eventually will warm to the ads.

Regal CineMedia marketing and sales prexy Cliff Marks pointed to a 2003 study by Arbitron that found 66% of auds said they agreed with the statement, “I don’t mind the advertisements they put on before the movie begins.”

The Arbitron study also found that younger people and those who go to the movies most frequently were the least likely to object to the messages.

“There are clearly people that don’t like advertising in movie theaters,” Marks said, “but there also people who don’t like ads on TV or on the radio. The notion of people disliking advertising is not a new one.”

He said Regal has sought to make the promos more appealing by developing its 20-minute full-motion video program, which blends blurbs with filmmaker interviews from partners Universal, Sony, NBC and Turner Broadcasting.

“We have specifically a 20-minute entertainment program that consumers have responded very well to,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, people who come to our theaters accept the advertising.”

He said the main issue is the quality of the ads. “People don’t dislike advertising so much as they dislike bad advertising.” To that end, he said, CineMedia encourages advertisers to create spots specifically for the movie aud, or to run ads in theaters before their tube flights.

The InsightExpress study found 39% of those surveyed said they’d be more receptive to blurbs if they hadn’t already seen them on TV. Funny spots also seem to be an easier sell, as 55% said they’d like an ad more if it made them laugh.

More Film

  • Oscars Placeholder Black and White

    ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Mary Poppins’ Lead Oscar Music Nominations

    Songs from “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” “RBG,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “The Ballad of Lester Scruggs” were nominated for Best Song for the 2019 Academy Awards, announced Tuesday morning, while “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Isle of Dogs” and “Mary Poppins Returns” received nods for Best Score. Specifically, the Best [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron Roma Variety Cover Story

    With 'Roma,' Alfonso Cuarón Ties Oscar Record for Most Nominations for a Single Film

    With individual Oscar nominations as producer, director, writer, and cinematographer of “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón has tied an Academy Awards record shared by Warren Beatty, Alan Menken, and Joel and Ethan Coen. Four individual nominations for a single film remains a milestone in Oscar history. Beatty previously pulled it off on two separate occasions, for “Heaven [...]

  • Academy Voters Shut Out Women Director

    Female Directors Shut Out of Oscar Nominations

    It was an anticipated takeaway from this year’s Oscar nominations announcement, but that doesn’t make it any less unfortunate: Despite a number of worthy contenders to choose from, female filmmakers were shut out of the directing category. From Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here” (an Amazon release that received a Cannes screenplay prize) to [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Academy Awards: 'Roma,' 'The Favourite' Dominate Oscar Nominations With 10 Each

    “Roma,” a black-and-white, Spanish language coming-of-age drama, and “The Favourite,” a comedy about life in the court of an obscure English monarch, dominated nominations for the 91st Academy Awards, picking up a leading 10 nods apiece. The competition for the top honor also includes “Black Panther,” the blockbuster comic book film; “A Star is Born,” [...]

  • Love & Hip Hop

    Spike Lee Is Finally an Oscar Nominee for Best Picture and Director

    After more than three decades of making films that have collectively established an undeniable cultural legacy, 61-year-old auteur Spike Lee is finally an Academy Award nominee for best picture and director. It’s as noteworthy a headline as Tuesday’s Oscar nominations announcement is bound to produce. In fact, Lee’s original screenplay notice for the 1989 lightning [...]

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    'Roma' Becomes Netflix's First Best Picture Oscar Nominee

    Netflix is finally in the hunt for Hollywood’s ultimate prize. The streaming company received its first-ever best picture Oscar nomination on Tuesday for Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” a black-and-white exploration of the “Gravity” director’s youth and the life of the nanny who helped raise him in Mexico. The drama received 10 nominations in total, making it by [...]

  • Black Panther

    Oscars: 'Black Panther' Becomes First Superhero Movie Ever Nominated for Best Picture

    Tuesday morning, 10 years after Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” forced a significant paradigm shift at the Academy Awards, a superhero movie was finally nominated for best picture: Marvel’s “Black Panther.” And it represents a fairly remarkable culmination. The move from five best picture nominees to 10 (later altered to a system that can produce [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content