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Trailer Park Woes…

I used to love going to the cinema and watching the trailers. Teasing me with movies I hadn’t heard of yet, showing me my first look at movies I was anticipating all summer or perhaps reaffirming my faith in a movie I’d written off. It doesn’t matter that the trailers always lie (Sweeney Todd is a musical? Not according to the trailer) or they spoil too much (not sure if it’s possible to spoil a historical biopic, but Public Enemies had a trailer which ran until Dillinger escaped in Indiana, which is at least two-thirds the run time), but I loved ’em. And if one of those trailers stunk, I didn’t mind, because there were five or six more waiting for me. I don’t mind having twenty minutes of advertisements before a movie (as happened when I saw The Hangover), but I do mind if these ads are focused on selling my things I don’t really want or care about.

I want to see more of this...

I want to see more of this...

I hate seeing ads I can see on television at the cinema. I understand that the cinemas need to make money and this post won’t actually change anything, but bear with me. It’s just a pet peeve I have. Then again, I am a naive romantic when it comes to movies – I know that there are market forces at play, but surely the studio executives believe at least that they’re making good movies? For me, the cinema is a bit of a ‘special place’, like a theatre or a concert hall. The only intrusive advertising you generally see in those places is for upcoming events. Sure, there are advertisements for sponsors and full-page ads in magazines, programmes and brochures, but they don’t assault you when you’re there to appreciate a great play or a fantastic performer.

Okay, maybe I could relent half-way and meet your precious advertisers halfway. How about only showing special advertisements in the cinema? For example, the advertisements for Coke in Cineworld letting you know the film is a about to start and reminding you to buy from the lobby, or the O2 ad featuring the singing confectionery? At least they fit the aesthetic of the experience you came here for. My problem isn’t the consumerism creeping into the cinema – consumerism has always been a part of it, I’m not that naive – but rather the cheapening of the experience. And with rising ticket prices, I don’t want a cheapened experience.

I can see ads for anti-spot facial washes anywhere. The road safety authority advertisements punctuate the nightly news. The Club advertisements (as outrageously fun as they were – and they are a truly baffling experience to the non-Irish) can be spotted any one of our four national broadcasters. And at least there they are paying for my experience – they pay the broadcasters who can in turn buy or produce the shows. Here I pay twenty euro for seat and food, and then I’m rendered a captive to these marketeers. I really grinds my gears. It particularly grinds my gears when these advertisements take up about 20% of the actual film’s running time. Four every five minutes of what I enjoy, I have to endure one minute of this. When I buy the DVD, there’s generally none of this crap and – if there is – I can just fast forward past it.

I definitely wanna see more of this...

I definitely wanna see more of this...

When did this happen? Am I the only person who remembers a time when going to the cinema was a special experience. I remember when my dad and my brother and I went to see Star Wars upon its release in the old run down Gaiety Cinema in Sligo. It was sticky red velvet everywhere and a small kiosk operated by the same person who manned the ticket desk. Sure, it was a dump by modern standards, but the seats were clean and cushioned and the screens (all two of them) were large. They tore it down soon after and built us a multiplex, which was better in its own way, but I haven’t re-encountered that feeling anywhere. Even going to the IFI for all its quaintness (it doesn’t even have popcorn!) doesn’t recreate the magic, as it’s still a place where we sit through television ads before the feature. I do like its somewhat eclectic collection, from time-to-time.

I miss going to the cinema and seeing advertisements for a good four or five upcoming films. I now watch most of my trailers on-line – which can’t compete. Watching The Dark Knight trailers on YouTube was great, but seeing Watchmen brought to life for two-and-a-half minutes on the big screen was phenomenal. And ultimately a little more fantastic than the movie. Just a bit. Movie trailers have to be seen on the big screen – there’s no effect like it – but they are gradually being pushed off to make room for mindless and mundane ads created without the scale and scope the screen affords in mind.

It’s good to rant. At least I don’t charge you €20 for the privilege.

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