I Pay To See A Movie, Not The Pre-Show, You Know!

As with most things in life, going to the cinema is an ever-increasing cost to the budget that a lot of people can no longer bear. The proliferation of the ability to download a movie off the internet (legally or illegally) as well as shortening DVD/BluRay release windows, have given the general film-going public more choice when it comes to seeing their favorite films.


As with most things in life, going to the cinema is an ever-increasing cost to the budget that a lot of people can no longer bear. The proliferation of the ability to download a movie off the internet (legally or illegally) as well as shortening DVD/BluRay release windows, have given the general film-going public more choice when it comes to seeing their favorite films.

There’s no argument from me that the only way to see the big-screen blockbusters is to see them on the… er, big screen, as no amount of home cinema expense could rival a 50′ screen and thunderous loudspeaker audio reproduction, yet the gradual ramping of cost to see a film seems to be giving people a false sense of what’s going on down at the local cineplex. We’re constantly hearing about a variety of big-budget films breaking various box-office records, almost weekly these days, and yet I’d posit that this is driven by the increase in ticket cost as opposed to any increase in bums on seats. Cinema houses (at least here in Australia) cry poor at the little money they make through actual ticket sales, with the majority of their profits garnered by candy-bar sales and other promotional crud. Considering that a recent trip to see The Desolation of Smaug cost me $19 for a standard ticket (at Event Cinemas, no less), plus a bag of chocolate and a bottle of water (which cost me about 5 bucks…. for freakin’ water!!), going out costs a lot more now than it did even a decade ago.


Now, I can swallow the rise of cinema tickets, since chains need to make money from the paying customer, and I can even disregard the rip-off merchant mentality of charging half a weeks pay for a large tub of popcorn and a syrupy premix of something labelled Coca-Cola but which plainly isn’t, but what I can no longer abide is the increasing intrusion of advertising and time-wasting during the standard pre-show run. Don’t forget, a lot of what is shown during the pre-shows (here in Australia at least) is already paid for by the advertisers, right? So not only have I paid for a ticket to see the movie, but advertisers have paid to have their advertising shown to a relatively captive audience as well. The cinema chains get two bites of the pre-show payment cherry.

What irks me is that I’m effectively being robbed of either money, by paying for a ticket to see pre-purchased advertising space, or time, in that I paid to see a movie to start at a certain time (which doesn’t) and have to wait the extra twenty minutes before the opening logo kicks in. Even worse, the trailers and advertising shown before my screening of Desolation Of Smaug ran for an eternity, a good twenty minutes or so before the film was scheduled to start. Film trailers, internal cinema house promotions, 2 commercials for New Zealand, several alcohol commercials, a few more film trailers….  Oh, I enjoy watching a good film trailer – we caught ones for Edge of Tomorrow, 47 Samurai and the new Tom Clancy thriller – but the advertising to local businesses, clothing labels and beer sales, and even repeated spruiking New Zealand (which makes sense considering where The Hobbit movies are produced) began to annoy a large percentage of the audience. Cries of “start the damn movie” are a good sign that the audience is getting restless, which is what we’ve actually all paid to see.

To expensive?
Too expensive?

It’s this thievery of time – justified due to expenses and overheads, sure – that drives people away from the cinema. We’re too time poor these days (like it or loathe it) to want to sit through twenty minutes of advertising to see a film we paid a ticket to see, when I could just stay home, download it illegally and watch it without advertising. Convenience and sense of entitlement is a stronger driver than “doing the right thing” these days, unfortunately, and with cinema chains giving us more and more advertising to swallow before the film starts, is one of the many small things sending people back to the couch to just catch it on DVD or online.

Frankly, if I pay for a ticket to see a movie, I expect to see just that. The movie. I don’t want to, nor should I have to, sit through precious minutes of vacuous advertising, because the advertisers have already paid for it. If the film is advertised to start at, say 8pm, then start the movie at 8pm, and have the advertising on before that. That way, if I show up at five minutes to 8, and take my seat, I don’t have to sit through a further fifteen or twenty minutes of commercials before the film begins. This double-take by cinema chains is one of the key reasons why I’ve cut back on going to the movies, instead preferring the DVD/BluRay option. When the dollars matter, I’ll always take the cheaper option, where I can.

Do you agree with me? Am I out of line? What’s your opinion on pre-show advertising at the cinema? Rant away down below in the comments!

I hate seeing this.
I hate seeing this.




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8 thoughts on “I Pay To See A Movie, Not The Pre-Show, You Know!

  1. Feel you here. I don't watch trailers and it is no surprise to know I don't love commercials, so it is a complete waste of time. If I head to the cinema alone I usually put on my headphones, close my eyes and listen to some music until the movie starts
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    1. Hey, that's a great idea! As much as I love to listen to cinematic buffoons spouting their inane movie knowledge in the seats around me, perhaps some soothing music before the feature begins will dull the ache of having to endure twenty minutes of wasted time! LOL!! Love that idea, I might use it!

  2. Very good point Rodney about the advertising effectively bringing about two revenue streams: I agree the adverts go on and on and can sometimes run for too long. I love watching the trailers but I do think 20 minutes is too long for adverts + trailers. 15 minutes would be more manageable, 10 to 12 minutes, even better (3 minutes for 20 to 60 secs adverts, 9 mins for four 2min+ film trailers). It's worse when you're seeing a film like Desolation of Smaug which runs for three hours! It's too long to be sat in one seat for that length of time – even worse if you have children to entertain.
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    1. Tell me about it – trailer and advertising before kids films is the worst, probably because a lot of it isn't AIMED at children, except for the gamers and toys, of course. I enjoy trailers as well, but somebody should mandate a limit on the amount of pre-show advertising, stipulating no more than five minutes of commercial advertising, and no more than four film trailers. That way, everyone is happy.

  3. This is a great opinion piece, Rodney! Personally, I have not dealt with overuse of advertisements, but that may just vary because I live in the States. My problem has actually been more with how many trailers they show beforehand, especially with one particular theater who shows at least six to seven trailers before the feature. Usually advertisements go about a minute or so after the scheduled start time. I would be even more frustrated if advertisements were as long as you are saying they are! Either way, you make great points and I feel for you, my friend. That's rough when it comes to going to the cinema.
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    1. The Whiff!!!

      I wouldn't mind so much if it was all film trailers for upcoming stuff, but invariably it isn't, which sucks. I'm a big stickler for starting times, and when a movie is advertised to start at, say 7pm, and doesn't actually start until nearly 7.30 because of the pre-show, that pissed me off.

      Thanks for stopping by, dude!!

  4. Great post. I enjoy the film trailers, but the actual advertising trailers are annoying. Especially if you go to the cinema multiple times in one week. There's only so many car/alcohol adverts I can watch haha.
    It's horrible when you see a brand new blockbuster release. I remember when I saw The Dark Knight Rises, and there was at least thirty minutes of advertising trailers. Ridiculous!
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    1. Ugh, then it's not just me – it IS getting worse, I'm sure of it. I don't mind the film trailers (after all, you want to know what's coming out, right?) but commercials for beer, clothing and cars (that i can already see on television anyway) just irritate the hell out of me.

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