Theaters to collect a toll for film trailers

These days, in order for a studio to have their trailer played at a Regal or AMC theater, payment must be made in order for those studios’ trailers to have a shot at stardom.

“Theatres raise revenue and tensions by charging to show trailers,” was the headline of a Los Angeles Times article last week, concerning the high-prices movie theaters are charging in order for trailers to be played prior to feature films. The concern, or should I say complaint, of these movie studios affected is the “paying” aspect.

The cost—on average—for a trailer to be played is a whopping $100,000.

Therefore, the only way for a movie studio to be able to escape this high cost is to already be involved financially with these theaters. For example, movie studios such as Walt Disney and Paramount, do not have any kind of contract with either Regal or AMC, so they have to pay out of pocket for each trailer played. However, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Studios and Warner Bros., all have marketing deals with these big theaters, so for them, the one trailer of their choice is played for free and given high priority.

But is it really free when they have an abundance of money invested into these theaters for other reasons? Either way, big theaters such as AMC and Regal, are making money.

The reality is that big companies will try their best to make, and finagle as much money from other companies that can afford it. AMC and Regal are those big theater companies that can do just about anything they want when it comes to cinemas.

Is the added expense necessary? I think not. I strongly disagree with the extra income these theaters are making off of movie studios. In other words, I am bickering too; as a moviegoer I feel I have a stake in this.

It is hard enough to attend a movie these days, with the average movie ticket sales topping out at $12, not to mention the prices of popcorn, candy and soda if chosen to purchase. Bottom line: Theaters charge a lot and naturally make a lot, so why charge movie studios to play a trailer?

“What makes this business run are trailers,” said Chuck Viane, a former president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios. “When the right trailers aren’t seen by the public with the right movie, that can hurt the box office.”

It’s just the truth; theaters benefit from trailers, and trailers benefit from theaters; minus the cost.

So when theaters dismiss a trailer from being played because they were unable to pay, this benefits neither. If the trailer is not played, people will not know what is up and coming.

Thus, unless the theater advertises it elsewhere, it may have lower ticket sales from the absence of the trailer. By attempting to grab for more money, large theaters have ostensibly shot themselves in the foot.

On the other hand, smaller theaters in many cities may not have the biggest attendance and budget compared to an AMC or Regal, but are also unable to charge for the trailers being played.

This could result as a definite advantage to movie studios since their trailers would be played regardless.

My hope is that the next time a theater shuts out a movie studio for being unable to pay for a trailer, they will go to a smaller theater that will be guaranteed to serve them.

And by serve, I mean play their trailers for $0 instead of $100,000.

About Lauren Davis