The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has released new marketing guidelines for movie theatres in the United States and Canada that will go into effect October 1, 2014. The press release calls for a maximum trailer length of two minutes and will limit marketing lead time to 150 days (five months) prior to the release date for a film. Two exemptions per distributor per year will be allowed for both trailer length and marketing lead time.
So what does this mean for the much-anticipated trailer for The Hobbit: There and Back Again?
First off, these guidelines will not be implemented until October 1, which is only 77 days from the December 17 release date of the third installment of The Hobbit films. That not only puts it well within the allowed marketing lead time, it also will likely disregard any trailer length guidelines. According to the press release, “Advertisements already in cinemas for such movies as of the date of this announcement will be grandfathered.”
And the main thing to remember is that these new limitations aren’t hard and fast rules. To quote another movie franchise, “They’re more like guidelines anyway!” They are “voluntary” and not strictly enforced. The voluntary guidelines currently in place by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) cap trailers at two and a half minutes with each distributor allowed one exemption per year. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug blew past that with its three minute trailer (coincidentally released on October 1 last year). The distributor, Warner Bros., obviously thought the film was worth it.
Last year, Warner Bros. released the first trailer for The Desolation of Smaug a full six months before the film’s release date. Luckily for die hard fans, these new guidelines won’t be able to stop an early (and lengthy) preview of The Hobbit: There and Back Again from hitting screens across the country.