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Video: Frustrated Rant Against Growing Commercials In Movies

By John - April 6, 2009 - 19:52 America/Montreal - 110 Comments

To some it may not be a big deal, but there is NOTHING in the movie industry or movie going experience that annoys me to the point of blind furious rage more than the issue of commercials that play in the theaters before a movie starts. The only thing that comes close to being as annoying are people who try to defend it. Movie Blog regulars will know that I go off on this topic about once a year… but this week I had one of the worst experiences of my life with it and just had to rant my face off and get it off my chest. Enjoy.


  1. Fernby says:

    Well said. I thoroughly agree with everything you’ve said. if only people in charge would get the message. I refues to go the cinema’s these days, since it’s now so commercialised away from the actual film and more towards all the corporations spruiking their wares. I pay to see the movie, people, not to see your shitty commercials.

  2. Marrisa says:


    You need to do more of these video rants John

  3. Devon says:

    I blame the studios, not the theatres. The studios are taking too big a piece of the box office revenue, which forces theatres to look elsewhere to make money. Stuidos should try and give more to the theatres in exchange for agreeing to show fewer commercials before movies.

    I would like to see the two sides reach an agreement and regulate commercials, because I have to agree that going heavy on ads hurts the whole industry in the long run.

    • John says:

      Hey Devon,

      Totally see where you’re coming from. However, they are both part of the same system… and the studios can only take as much as the theater industry allows them to take. It’s a systemic problem that the whole machine has to fix.

  4. Vidsub says:

    Wow, at the movie theatre I go to, we dont have that much of commercials, we usually only have 1-2, and it lasts like 1 or 2 minutes.

  5. Amish Bill says:

    You should have had 5 minutes of commercials before your rant.

  6. Matt K says:


    that video reminded me of that video the joker did when he tortures the batman imposter…but seriously i never really minded the commercials til i watched this

  7. Kristopher Tapley says:

    Are you in prison with a view of a brick wall and nothing else?

  8. Kristopher Tapley says:

    Oh, and this post — this is why I’m okay with showing up in the middle of the trailers lately.

  9. Jack Rhien says:

    Thankfully I didn’t have to deal with this a lot. I only had to deal with it once, but when I did, it was EXACTLY as you described it. And to make things worse, this was when I was waiting for “Hulk” to start. Shudder. Aside from that, you made excellent points.

  10. eric says:

    wow. that was eye opening. man now i feel ripped off and a bit pissed. not nearly as pissed as you are john but a little used. i mean if it were a free movie and they had ads i wouldn’t mind, but since they’re taking my time and my money without me realizing it…that’s coldblooded.

  11. Noa Altwynn says:

    There’s only two, maybe three, ads that I don’t really mind. A soda ad, theater ad, and maybe a popcorn ad… if they’re short. One of those three that’s long doesn’t bother me if it’s only one of them. Anything else bugs the hell out of me… especially when they can play the damn things while we’re waiting for the theater to fill and the movie to start.

    Sadly it’s only gonna get worse until people stop going because of those damn commercials… something that I doubt will happen.

  12. AARON says:

    Saw this on youtube, this is 100 % brilliant

  13. geoff says:

    I’m from the uk (where the larger theaters do assigned seating) so when I moved to Canada I found it really frustrating having to line up an hour early for the big releases and sit through advertising.

    I think the worst case of this kind was on a DVD I bought. It had a damn car ad on the disk! i couldn’t skip it! I felt abused!

    From that point on I decided the studios will never see my money for dvd’s, they abused my trust completely. Illegal channels get more tempting by the day when they pull this kind of shit on the people that keep them in business.

  14. Mikescrypt says:

    You go John!! I love your rants!! you sound like Dough!! Where is Dough anyway!!

  15. herby says:

    And they wonder why films are downloaded illegally?

    Not advocating mind you, but in makes you wonder.

  16. eric says:

    my friend brought up a point that I’m not sure if you addressed. don’t the ads “earn money for the movie theater companies.[?].. it’s where they get their profit from not from ticket prices because those go to the production company.”
    correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t that keep the movie theater company in business? or does all the money go to the studios too? I don’t know how it all works.

    otherwise good shit.

    • GODFATHER says:

      The dollars generated by the ads/commercials prior to the movie being played goes to the theatre chain. Now, in Canada at least, there’s 2 major players owning about 90-95% of the theatres. Since these two corps are also publicly traded, profits (ie. share price) are what matter. That’s why you’ll continue to see more and more commercials at the movies.

      I gotta agree that the number of commercials is increasing, and it is frustrating. I don’t care if they’re played before the movie is supposed to start (ie. a movie starts at 7, you show up at 6:30 and sit through all the ads) but at 7, the movie should start. They have every right to do that. I can sit through the two or three trailers before my movie starts, but I’m not sitting through an extra 15+ min of commercials. That’s ludicrous! If I had that happen to me, I’d get up and get a refund and come back on a Sunday night. Seems quieter and less “commercially” then. ;) Mind you, I don’t review movies, so getting info out when everyone is supposed to be making a decision doesn’t affect me.

  17. Rob D. says:

    Yet they wonder why people don’t go to the theater and just steal the movies on the internet.

  18. nOva says:

    This was great because it vaguely reminded me of a long ago time when you would do these neat little things called “podcasts”. :-)

  19. Doug (not Nagy) says:

    I swear I remember something a few years back about a congressman trying to pass a bill that says that theaters have to publish the actual time the movie starts, not when the commercials and trailers start. Don’t know who, or whatever happened with that, but I’d love to see it followed through on. Great rant, John.

  20. Kate says:

    Is it ok i find u hot in this video? u kind of turned me on. xoxo.

  21. Jay says:

    …. I like this side of you


  22. Jose M. says:


    John you were so mad that you said 7:05 when you tried to say 8:05 :P… i could see how mad you were.

    Unfortunately i don’t have that bad experience here. i live in Florida and yes the Movie theater that i go have commercial but is before the time that they say that the movie will start. for example, i went to see Fast & Furious last Friday and i got there at 6:27 to see a 6:25 time, like you said when, i got there only the front seats were available and i got there 2 minutes late… so me and my friends decided to change the tickets to the 6:55 one. i waited 20 minutes and on those 20 minutes that i waited they were showing commercial and features from movies that will come out later but a 6:55 sharp the lights went out and they started with the trailers, that i don’t care see them. as you see this theater shows comercial but is before the time that they have the movie scheduled to start.

    i don’t know that if that crap of the commercial is only there in Canada or that happen in other states here in US.

  23. Darren J Seeley says:

    The product ads are increasing, and it is a waste of time. By then, you would have:

    a) already have your soda so Dew ads are totally not needed.

    b) have already driven to the show and quite possibly in something other than a Dodge Pickup;

    c) The theatre info reminds you that cell phone usage is not cool. So what’s with the Verizon Mobile Network ad? Or Blackberry, for that matter.

    d) PSAs are usually fine, but the anti-smoking ones (Truth)…look, they mean well, but… smoking is already prohibited inside the theaters.

    • methos says:

      at our theater we are usually subjected to 3-4 (sometimes more, but never less) commercials before ending with a Coca-Cola advertisement. never fails, Coca-Cola is always the last commercial. That’s how I know we are moving into the trailer section! lol

  24. EZELL says:

    LOL he covered all the bases.

  25. Calviin says:

    I have to say, I’ve started going to the theatres late at off hours to avoid the commercials and trailers. I have my media center set up well enough at home that I can watch the 1080p trailers that come out online on my 42″ TV. If I am going at a peak time, we do tend to come early, but we bring video games and conversation and pretty much ignore everything until the trailers start.

  26. Darek-T says:

    I agree with Marrisa you should do more of these. I know that you can’t just make up a rant and you do kinda have to have a certian mood to do it right but just if you feel a rant coming it would be nice if you could record it like this one.
    Very well exectued rant by the way.

  27. Nazz says:

    Just need to ask John:

    Honestly, where you on speed? You were all hyped up there

  28. the_almighty_smack says:

    where im from it depends where you see the movie if you spend the $$$ at AMC or scotia there is less commercials than if you see the same movie for 5$ in guzzo..

    Also I dont mind if the commercials are trailers for other movies I just dont go to the movies to see a mazda commercial..

  29. Dogbone says:

    Great points made, with equations & values no less!

    Here in our country, they sneak in the ads in between the trailers. So if you plan to come in a bit late, you still get caught by the ad.

    And it’s a lot worse if the movie is a blockbuster - any hit movie that’s highly anticipated. On those flicks, the ads can run to 40 minutes easy!

    It’s a nasty business all around but I guess some films are worth suffering the ads…

  30. Dogbone says:


    Thank you John for sharing…

  31. the_almighty_smack says:

    and what i hate even more is when they play french commercials even thoe its an english movie it always makes me paranoid that I might have accidentaly bought tickets to the french show.

  32. Seth Miller says:

    When I find myself in a similar position, I watch the movie,I take my ticket stub to the customer service desk, ask for a manager, explain that the commercials ruined my movie going experience, and demand a refund. I have never once been turned down.

  33. Vito says:

    A-fucking-men, John. Very nicely done.

  34. ServerKing says:

    John that was a Fantastic Rant. Check my recent experience I went to see Watchmen opening weekend at 1130pm (showed up 1115pm). And stupid me I didnt realize how LONG that movie was. Because of all the trailers and commercials I didnt get out until 240am in the morning 240AM! It’s not just the commercials that piss me off why the fuck do I have to watch a Coast Guard commercial with Kidd Rock EVERYTIME I go! I wish they had prearrange seating as your said so I can show up when I want too.

  35. 3R!C says:

    The one that gets me is the real estate ads. Who is thinking of buying a house while waiting for a movie to start? The insurance ones also get me.

  36. WolfMarauder says:

    The Arclight has spoiled me so much. I’m surprised I haven’t run into you there, I’m there all the time.

  37. Brian says:

    The worst is when people in the audience act like they enjoy watching these commercials by laughing at the lame jokes. How pathetic are these people? I don’t know, but there is just something wrong with watching advertisements as entertainment. And the money made from them will never make anything cheaper, do you really think the powers that be would voluntarily give away money?

  38. Yorick says:

    Let this be a lesson to you…DON’T PISS JOHN OFF!

  39. The Shark That Got Jumped says:

    Tell us how you really feel, John.

  40. Chris says:

    I understand John’s frustration as it does seem that it does take longer to get to the movie now a days. But that being said, I think there are some people that view these commercials as part of the movie going experience. I remember once hearing people behind me wanting to see what milk commercials were coming as they found them funny.

    Also, I think that part of this problem comes from a lack of competition in our part of Canada. Cineplex pretty much owes all the theatres and are free to do what they want. Then again, now one really complains about the commercials so there really isn’t much incentive to stop.

  41. nbakid2000 says:

    I agree, John. However, I kinda have a different outlook on things…

    A) I kinda like the ads shown in theaters. Most of the time they’re very unique and hilarious (the Verizon Rhapsody commercial with the kid and the girl getting married) and aren’t shown on TV. And I’m a sucker for clever advertisements.

    B) I hate the fact that to get a good seat, you have to show up half an hour before showtime (well I do) and watch the TERRIBLE ads (the static, non-moving ads) which loop themselves….quotes from E! Online by movie stars, “Scene-It?” quizzes, etc. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t LOOP THEM INCESSANTLY!!! IT SUCKS! They never seem to get any good ones. Then I absolutely hate people sitting there during said static ads eating their popcorn (scarfing it down loudly) and playing with their bags. It drives me insane.

    Anyway, the reason I don’t go to theaters very much is because I have to get there so early and just sit and watch the awful ads. It’s bad too because you can’t leave the theater or someone will take your seats/coat/etc. The movie/product ads don’t bother me that much.

    Also, the DVDs that make you sit through ads are really bad too. That’s why when I get DVDs, they immediately go onto my computer and I re-burn them so when I pop it in, the movie starts IMMEDIATELY.

    Anyway, yes, they are stealing my time. Do I mind a *whole* lot? No. Especially since I so rarely go to the theater. And I like clever ads. But I agree with you John, in principle.

  42. Eric says:

    Agreed, but chill dude, we don’t want you to get a heart attack. ;)

  43. Michael says:

    Get over it. It’s not going to get any better. People still go to the movies with commercials and that means it’s not going to stop. Besides, if you are a real appreciator of film, and I know you are, you might take the opportunity to look into the filmic nature of the commercials and actually appreciate them for what they are cinematically.

  44. wolvie says:

    Overall i do agree with you.. i dont like commercials. My theater constantly plays Tide bleach commercials.

    thats like saying i shouldnt have to watch commercials on tv since i pay for it. lol

    If the movie DID start immediatly… i would also be annoyed by people walking in front of me and taking their seats.

    that extra 10min gives people enough time to sit down. People always get food at the last minute and someones always waiting for their friends to come. It gives people time… without having to get their early.

    btw- in some theaters the “showtime”…might just mean the “seating time”. It does for my theater.

    in my theater they sometimes dont even play commercials and still start the movie 20min late. Id rather watch commercials than nothing.

    but yeah… commercials are annoying… any way you put it.

  45. FilmLec says:

    I totally agree with this, and i’m from England. It’s exactly the same here, really annoys me. I’m 23 now and since i learnt to drive at 17 the ticket prices of my nearest cinema have risen a ridiculous amount, and it’s a terrible cinema. No staggered seating, and all the chairs squeak whenever you move, plus there are no cup holders, and then worst of all they put roughly 30 minutes of adverts in before the film even starts! So annoying, especially if you are planning to do something afterwards because you have no realistic time as to when the film is going to end!!

  46. bla says:

    well wake up, only the sun comes up for free…

    what do you think that it costs nothing to run movietheater, i wonder if you ever downloaded a movie (psst… thats also stealing)..

    Please go read a book, no commercials in it, you can start when ever you want, and you might become a little less narrow minded out of it…

    owh by the way thanks for stealing 12 minutes of my time…

  47. ThinkHero says:

    John, you need to get back to LA so you can go back to the Arclight to watch movies. The next time we all go to a movie there, I’ll remind you to hug one of the ushers to let them know you love their theater, and didn’t mean to cheat on it with another slutty theater that shows tons of commercials.


  48. brian says:

    i love this hahah
    rant more often

  49. John says:

    Ohhh, trust me there is something more annoying than ads before movies. There is turning up to the Dark Knight 20 minutes after they said it started in oder to *avoid* the ads, only to find they hadn’t shown any and we’d missed a big chunk of the film…

  50. probitionate says:


    First off, anyone wanting to know what a typical scene is like in John’s movie ‘The Anniversary’, this rant fits the bill. (Yeah, he’s *very* good with a Kevin Smith-esque diatribe…even if it’s off-the-cuff, as here.) LOL

    There are a few issues at play here, and while they’re all germane to the topic, they really should be taken separately.

    1) Start time. Well, maybe in years gone by, this was pretty much when the movie began…aside from some obligatory trailers. Maybe the breakup of the studio/exhibitor monopoly at the end of the 40s started to change all this, when cinemas started to become their own bosses. But to me, I’ve never taken it to be ‘when the show begins’, unlike in theatre or for television. I’m not happy with it either, this discrepancy. (Personally, I’d like for them to start the movie at the advertised time…and begin their ‘pre-show’ stuff accordingly.)

    2) Revenues. First off, these are theater revenues we’re talking about with respect to the ads, not studio revenues. The cinemas get a cut of the ticket sales, they have the revenues from the concession stand…and whatever advertising they can bring in. Let me reiterate: this has NOTHING to do with the studios. (Let me also add here that studios don’t make the bulk of their yearly revenue from cinema ticket sales. Currently, this take is about TWELVE PERCENT of Hollywood’s yearly revenue pie.) So to a large extent, studios don’t care what the cinemas do regarding how the film is presented (i.e., ads, etc.)

    3) What can be done? Well, the majesty of John’s rant aside…not much. Mostly because there’s no alternative. What are you going to do, boycott? Hmm…that’s gonna hurt. (Mostly the filmgoer.) For the ‘average’ filmgoer, seeing a movie in a cinema is not a weekly thing. In fact, I believe the average for North America is about six times a year. (I know this because I used to see between 150 and 200 films a year and at one point, I got curious as to what the ‘average’ attendance rate was.) So for the average person, this issue isn’t worth blowing a gasket over. So these people are not going to boycott. Which really leaves the gung-ho, passionate filmgoer…such as myself…or John. Personally, I’m not giving up the pleasure of seeing a film how its creators intended it to be seen, on the Big Screen, not over an issue like this.

    These cinemas are operating as businesses…for their stockholders. Who want maximum return for their investment. (I know, because I used to hold stock in Cineplex-Odeon, the company that owns the Silvercity Hamilton Mountain complex John references in his ‘editorial’.) In the same way that stockholders have rubber-stamped profit-maximizing strategies such as moving help-centers offshore to India, and relocating manufacturing plants out-of-country, film exhibitors have stockholders who want them to do whatever they can to maximize profits. (As an aside: movie ticket prices haven’t kept pace with inflation over the past 20 years…while concession stand prices have more than doubled inflation’s pace.) So it’s understandable that a company such as Cineplex…or Regal…or Cineworld…or AMC…would want to garner as much revenue as they possibly can. Are they greedy? Hmm… That’s another discussion. Are they being bastards in selling a ticket to a movie and then ‘requiring’ you to sit through ten, fifteen, even twenty-five minutes of ‘non-movie material’? Maybe. But again, what can be done? Voice your unhappiness? Sure. Stay away? Yup. Open your own cinema? Absolutely. But the first option probably won’t accomplish much, the second means you’re waiting for the DVD release…and the third? There are faster ways to go insane.

    I sympathize entirely with how John feels. While I don’t mind the commercials (I don’t watch television, so a good ad is a good ad to me), I’d like a 7pm show to begin at 7pm…after they’ve shown their ‘pre-show show’. And if the ads went away, I’d be happy to just sit and watch three or four trailers before the film. (As for pre-selecting your seat: no thanks. Been there, lived through that in the UK. Don’t like it, that’s not how my vote would be placed.)

    The fact is that short of some kind of organized effort, whining and bitching, complaining to the theatre management…or ranting on YouTube…probably isn’t going to accomplish all that much. Except, in John’s case, it might provide the impetus for a scene for his *next* movie. : )

  51. HDpunk says:

    HULK SMASH!!!!

    lol, wow that was a 10 minute rant, did you at least give the same rant to to the manager of that theatre? i would have, but then again, when ever i go to the movies, the only commercials ive ever seen are when the lights are still on. as soon as the lights go out the trailers start.

    so, how about sticking it to the man & downloading wolverine? lol j/k

  52. Cain says:

    Just a childish rant. Your arguments are just “oh I paid for a ticket I want to see the movie,” John, you get to see the movie. They are not showing ads during the movie. We all watch commercials on TV too, we pay for cable/satellite and yet we are still forced to sit through commericals (and there are more and more of them).

    The movie never starts right on time anyway. Sometimes I sit there and, even with no commericals, the trailers go on for 20 minutes or more. Why does nobody complain about that? It’s the same thing.

    Get over it.

    • John says:

      Hey Cain,

      Yeah, I hear some people try to use the “commercials on tv” justification too… but you’re wrong.

      Yes, you pay a basic service fee for cable… but you DO NOT PAY FOR THE TV SHOWS. They’re free.

      And guess what… when you DO pay for a PayPerView or OnDemand show, hey don’t show you any commercials BECAUSE YOU PAID FOR IT.

      I already paid to get into the movie theater. I paid for the movie. Your logic fails.

  53. James says:

    sorry but in the uk you book your seats, film advertised at 7pm start wont start till 7.30pm due to commercials and trailers. but your seat is booked so you can turn up whenever you want. some of the ads themselves are amazing so im not that bothered. i sneak in food n a drink from the sweetshop nearby.

  54. Jack says:

    You clearly don’t hate seeing the adverts more than you enjoy seeing the films.

    If more people did hate the adverts so much they wouldn’t go, then ticket prices WOULD go down.

    The reason they’re going up is because people like you are relatively happy to watch the adverts so you can see the film. Do the Math(s)!

  55. The Dude says:

    You know, as much as the commercials annoy me, I’ve come to accept them as a sort of necessary evil. When it all comes down to it, the theatre chains are there to make money, and part of that money comes from advertising revenue.

    While I can see both sides of this argument, just think what would happen if there were no commercials. Already exhorbitant ticket prices would go UP. Can you imagine paying $20 a ticket? I don’t know about you, but where I live, the famous players chain only charges $7.50. If I have to sit through 10 minutes of commercials to keep it that way I have no problem with that.

    • Rodney says:

      Perhaps you should watch the Rant again Dude.

      The ads before the movie are not keeping our ticket prices down at all. And removing them wouldn’t make the ticket prices go up either.

  56. probitionate says:

    “The ads before the movie are not keeping our ticket prices down at all. And removing them wouldn’t make the ticket prices go up either.”

    What would happen if the ad revenues were ’sacrificed’ isn’t quite as clear-cut as you suggest. No business, especially in today’s world, is interested in losing an income stream. Even if, by statistical analysis, seems trivial. There has to be a good reason for abandoning the stream. And here’s a prime piece of reality: cinemas have limited options regarding how to increase revenues. It’s either more showings, higher ticket prices, higher concession stand prices…or ad revenue. Their fixed costs aren’t going to go down: rent, taxes, wages. Nor are they likely to get better income arrangements with the film distributors.

    Unfortunately we’ve already seen ‘the thin edge of the wedge’ find its way into the tradition of movie-going…which is no longer the default setting for the majority of people, meaning that going backwards is unlikely. Not impossible…but unlikely.

    • John says:

      Here’s the problem probitionate:

      For the 22-23 cents they’re making off each patron, they’re hurting the movie going experience… and I already have friends who only go to movies about once a month now because they HATE going to the theater now. They used to go to 2 or 3 flicks a weeks.

      I’m the same way, when in Hamilton, I’ll go to less movies. Period. Their “revenue stream” is hurting their revenue.

      This will catch up eventually with them. If I just skip 2 movies each month now out of he 10-15 I see each month because of this, and my one buddy skips 2 movies…. that’s over $50 in revenue, not to mention the pop and popcorn I get, which makes over $100 in revenue lost that month…. all so the could get the $2 of ad revenue they would have theoretically would hav generated if we were at those 4 movies.

  57. roguepirate says:

    Not sure if john is talking about the commercials that run before the showtime. In all my experiences when the showtime hits the trailers begin. Are you talking about the trailers because there’s usually about 15 minutes of trailers AFTER the showtime hits. In my experiences which include AMC, Regal, and Arclight theatres mostly I haven’t seen any commercials that are played after the designated showtime.

  58. HAZMAT says:

    Well said John, I love it when people speak up


    It would be weird to not have commercials before the movie..what..would it be a black empty screen before the trailers start? I dont know…im kinda used to them by now..

    So when I get there I know if im late or not if the commercials are on..if they are…then i start talking till the trailers start or i go get food or go to the bathroom

    Without them it would be kinda awkward. Im not disagreeing with you im just saying ive grown used to them.

  59. Andrew Robinson says:

    Ahmmm… ye that was a great way to get it off your chest. Best part of it was me dropping my jaw to the ground abt you being able to buy online a specific seat at the arclight where there are no ads pre the movie and it starts on time. That is such a great idea and wish my theatre did that. They play like 15-20 mins of ads here [Jamaica], and then 4 trailers [usually for 5 month old movies] and then the movie. And also in the beginning ads they play the national anthem, which drives my brother up the wall since he thinks it’s retarded that he has to salute the nation right before he sits down to watch tons of blood and guts get thrown around on screen. Personally I’ve gotten over it because the cost of a ticket is cheep here [in relation to the prices you've quoted for the states], abt US$7 here.

    In the end I think this is a put up or shut up moment. You hate, go get your own theatre and fix it like your fav arclight does it and run out all the ad playing theatres out of town. I’m currently plotting just to let you know.

  60. Johnny Boy says:

    i totally agree… which is why I’m starting my own theater chain after I retire from the film biz

  61. AARON says:

    Yeah he is talking about the ones before the showtime. I have noticed this is going on a lot lately, like when I saw The Day The Earth Stood Still, lights go down, thought a trailer was coming, and yes, there was a freaking car commercial! and several of them! John is so right, I did not pay to see a commercial, I PAID to see The Day the Earth Stood Still, which, was ok at best. I also think I remember seeing a commercial before Watchmen started too. I can deal with like 6 trailers, even if I know every single one of them, but, like John said, I only paid to see the movie, not knowing that I’d be going in there, getting three or more commercials thrown in my face, and, I have already seen them on TV!! At this rate, people might actually just leave before the movie gets going, the amount of trailers doesn’t really bother me, though sometimes I wish the movie would just come already. I have at at most maybe 5 minutes of commercials, never 25 minutes of em, great rant John!

  62. Sanderson says:

    You hit the nail on the head here John. The commercials shown before movies have aggravated me ever since they started a couple years ago. They absolutely have no business being there.

  63. probitionate says:

    John: You’re preaching to the converted. But you’re also asking them to imagine a potential loss of revenue. You’re a businessman, you know that things don’t work this way.

    I think that one of the fundamental pitfalls with this discussion is not appreciating that the cinema is only the ‘provider’, not the actual manufacturer. It doesn’t decide what its product is (other than choosing from what’s offered.) Also, the fact that the current ‘alternative’ to going to the cinema is in fact the default setting for more and more people, and a bigger source of income by far for the actual manufacturers of the product (’Hollywood’ for simplicity’s sake): at-home viewing. And this is why in a very real sense, they don’t care about this. As long as THEY get their money from you, either at the cinema or from DVD rentals, downloads, purchases or via broadcast, they couldn’t care less about ads in the cinemas. And therefore, there’s nobody on the side of the ranters. Except other ranters.

    • John says:

      Hey Probitionate,

      The thing is… the very things you laid out emphasize why they need to stop this.

      The way to save your industry is NOT to disgruntle your patrons even further. You need to IMPROVE your product, not hurt it.

      The movie going experience is the product. The movie itself is part of that product… but the rest of the experience is being hurt… and thus driving people away from the theaters. This will hurt their revenue exponentially in the coming years.

      Yes, I could make money if I charged people $0.50 each time they visit The Movie Blog… but that will eventually kill the site.

  64. obi-wan kubrick says:

    He is 100% correct. The only theater by me that has the feature to pick your seats ahead of time requires you to pay $2 more for your tickets.

  65. goodbar1979 says:

    right on John!!

  66. probitionate says:

    “The movie going experience is the product.”


    This is YOUR bias.
    And for the record, mine too: I do NOT watch movies anywhere other than in a cinema. Yes, it’s a generational thing.

    The product for the CINEMA is the movie going experience.
    The product for the STUDIOS is the film.
    And the amount they derive from the ‘movie going experience’…as I’ve been yammering on about…is not the slice of the pie it used to be.

    You, as I, believe in the movie going experience. In fact, I love cinemas themselves, regard them as ‘cathedrals of film’. But a great many of our values, even though you’re younger than me, are not priorities of the cinema owners. They may talk a good game in this regard…but hardly any of them out there are purists.
    That sucks…but ‘Life’s not fair…it’s just fairer than Death.’

    • John says:

      Hey Probitionate,

      I see where you’re coming from, but I whole heartedly disagree.

      You can’t separate the movie itself from the movie going experience when heading to the theater.

      When people avoid going to as many movies now because of the cost, or the price of concessions, or cell phones, or crying babies, or bad seats or nearly a half hour of commercials, you can’t separate the two. They are symbiotically connected.

      When the movie going experience is compromised, people will abandon it, and just get the isolated product of the movie itself through other means.

      The theaters and studios are symbiotically connected… the theaters industry must FORCE (and they do have the power to do this) the studio industry to change the system together.

  67. Mofo Toshio says:

    Totally agree, perfect explanation, but doesn’t address my personal biggest annoyance with the issue; these commercials are annoying! I thought that soul-crushing Fanta song was to worst they’d do, but now I have to sit through fast food ads and toy commercials before movies. The damn jingles are shrill and annoying, the content can be inappropriate (womens’ contraceptives? That’s a new one), and it just makes me uncomfortable!

    Yet I loved Grindhouse, a movie where I paid to see advertisements, go figure HAHAHA.

  68. Jeremy K. says:

    The theaters I go to start showing a behind the scenes type deal about 30min before the movie starts. Seen some pretty cool stuff on upcoming movies and TV shows on that. Sure there are some adds in between each featurette, but nothing to be upset about. Sure, before that starts they show advertisements, but it’s not like you don’t know it is going to happen. Plan ahead if your not interested in the advertisements. Personally I think it makes good use of an otherwise empty screen. I usually go with friends to the movies, and we talk through most of that time anyway, and do not pay attention to the adds. Otherwise I usually have some music to listen to, a book to read, or a hand held game system to play. Even then, I still see some advertisements that I think are pretty damn good. That coke add that is in CG kinda Grand Theft Auto style was pretty cool. I figure I am paying to see a movie at a specified time. As long as the movie trailers start by that time, I could care less what they show before it. If what is on the screen is entertaining my attention will be there, if it is not then I have other stuff to occupy my time until there is something interesting on it or the movie is starting. Definitely nothing there to get upset about. Things that I do get upset about at the theater: people who talk through the entire movie, parents not taking their children and babies out of an “R” rated movie when they get noisy, and overly dirty theaters where it is a game to find a clean seat. Ten, fifty, five hundred advertisements on the screen prior to the time a movie is to start? Sorry, I got other things to be more upset about.

  69. AARON says:

    Yeah Regal does that

  70. probitionate says:

    The movie going experience IS separated from the movie itself! And it’s been becoming moreso as the years go on.
    When you and I…well, mostly me…were growing up, there was only one alternative to going to the cinema if we wanted to ’see a film’: to wait for it to be shown on tv…usually about three to five years. (Going back to 1950, there was NO alternative. You either saw the film at the cinema…or you simply never saw it.) Now, more people see films on DVD, on cable, on broadcast television than pay to buy a ticket at the cinema. (If you want the exact figures, let me know.)

    The truth here is that you and me, we’re a dying breed. Yes, cinema revenues are increasing. But the overall pie, the Movie Revenue Pie is being made up of faster-increasing revenues. So; while the Cinema Receipts portion of the pie is increasing, the SIZE of the pie is growing at a far greater rate. Hence the truth to the notion that the movie going experience CAN be separated from the movie itself. You and I might have a problem with this, but the truth is that for many people, for MOST people, going to the cinema is NOT their default where movie-viewing is concerned. For whatever reasons…and yes, this is a very compelling discussion…MOST people do NOT see the cinema as their automatic choice for viewing. So…so…

    So it makes your ’cause’…getting rid of ads AND having the actual start time BE the actual start time…a lost cause from the beginning. You’re simply never going to get a sufficient groundswell to effect a change. No matter what your arguments are for justice.

    • John says:

      Hey Probitionate

      I totally respect your opinion, but you’re making a chicken and the egg argument.

      The way I see it, our debate breaks down like this:

      - You say the knife stabbing is irrelevant because the victim is dying.

      - I’m saying the victim is dying because of the knife stabbing.

      Theaters must sell THE MOVIE GOING EXPERIENCE. The movie itself is a part of that, but they’re treating it like the movie is the only thing, and thus ruining the rest of the experience.

      People are turning more and more to these alternative ways to see movie BECAUSE the movie going experience is getting worse and worse.

      In this way, you can NOT separate the experience from the film itself. Theaters must start treating them as vitally connected to save itself.

      The theater going experience is NOT going away… but as long as the Theaters continue to ruing the experience, it will become a worse and worse scenario.

    • Jeremy K. says:

      What is a movie going experience to you? For me it is merely seeing a movie in larger than life with awesome sound. That would be from the time the movie starts to when it ends, everything else is just added baggage.

      Granted this is much different than when I was younger. Back in the day when I used to only get to see a movie in a theater like once every couple months, there was a lot more to the experience as it was like a two hour vacation.

      Today there are always like five to ten theaters with driving distance and it is a weekly to bi-weekly event. The experience has changed, for me anyway, because of this.

      I give you props, John, if you can manage 10+ movies a month and still strive for that old school experience for every showing. Me, personally, like anything done in excess, the original experience is lost and a quick fix experience has set in. Get there, see the movie for that larger than life surround sound experience from start to finish, and get out. The movie is experience enough for me now and days, granted there are days that I miss the childhood adventure that a trip to the cinema once was. To get that feeling again though, I would have to limit the number of movies I see. I am not willing to do that, though! :D

  71. fullmetal_medji says:

    As long as we live in an advertising dominant culture this is only going to get worse. I wonder if Deregulation had something to do with this? Thanks a lot Reagan.

  72. ButterOnMyPopcorn says:

    Downloading this to my Phone. Next time I go to the movies and they play commercials, I am going to walk out, ask for a manager, demand a refund, say nothing, and show him this.

  73. Heath says:

    when will we get news on George Lucas’ WW2 movie about the african american fighter pilots???

  74. Antonio says:

    I wouldn’t mind so much if they were shorter commercials for local businesses.

  75. Phil Gee says:

    That room looks a little bit like a cell in a police station John. Are you sure you weren’t arrested for making a scene?

  76. Nate says:

    Great rant John, and you’re right on about everything. Not to mention, when you go to see a movie you look forward to seeing trailers, which are advertisements — when they swap those out for normal ads then half the fun of a movie going experience is ruined.

    And the Arclight really is great; but don’t forget, you pay $14.50 a ticket on the weekend for an Arclight ticket. That’s the price of an IMAX or 3D movie everywhere else in the country. So, if people did start doing like the Arclight, we might have to pay even more for tickets, so I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe people forming groups and asking the theater for their money back every time this happens.

  77. Craig says:

    I agree, I hate the commercials. Bring back the trivia or something like that. You have to get to the movies early too if you want a decent seat, and then have to sit through crappy commercials, such a pain.

  78. David Lopan says:


    Sorry to hear about the commercial issue man. Where I live (Miami), we usually have commercials during the pre show prior to the movies start time, but once the lights go down…its only previews and then the film. It must be different in other theaters.

  79. ADOX2525 says:

    I used to think it was cool that my theatre never assigned seating but I didn’t see their reasoning until now. I’m in the UK where advertising as a whole is a lot less forced upon the people. I wonder how much pirate downloads are effecting the dynamic in question. It’s a shame you don’t have the choice of a better theatre John. Again though the trouble is people accepting this poor treatment and letting the companies make such huge profits.

  80. Corey says:

    Hey John, are you in Canada for good?

  81. robertwolf says:

    My theater have done this odd thing, where once you enter the screen, the door locks behind you once the film starts. You can leave to go to the bathroom, but you got to find an usher to get back in. This also means, ushers can’t do screen checks because they don’t have keys to open the locked door.

    Also this same theater does this thing-Say a film is meant to start at 8pm. Well at 8pm is when the lights go down and commercials begin for 20 fucking minutes. You know what, it wouldn’t bother me if it was 20mins of trailers, I like trailers. But I really don’t give a fuck about cell phone adverts.

  82. Jason says:

    Commercials before watching a movie is a crappy problem for today’s movie goer. I credit part of the problem due to the actual people that go and see the films. Not enough is said or done to try and change the experience so hopefully this rant will get noticed but it will take a lot more!

  83. Gruff says:

    John, you are angry.

    Who hurt you?

    Who hurt you???

  84. AnnOra says:

    that’s a whole 24 hours that you could have spent buying me shoes :) nice rant baby. it made me smile.

  85. Ultra Magnus says:

    Well i guess there are some privlages to living in the crappy redneck town i live in. We never have commercials before movies. we come in, watch the trailers, then the movie starts.

    BUT JOHN, i fully agree with you.

  86. Ryan says:

    You kinda scared me. You looked like the Joker, and a little bit of Borat with the “Naaahhh…..Naaaahhhh”.

    But yes, commercials suck.

  87. jokers disiple says:

    funniest rant ever.

    good points too

  88. Marla Singer says:

    It would be funny to place this rant in the theaters right after the commercials!

    so John… upset once again over the ads, heard it all before but what do you think could be done about this? obviously the theaters arent visiting movie blogs and watching these video rants… i’m sick of it too but no offense i’d rather see a solution than see another livid campea vid on the subject.

    p.s. Are Kate and AnnOra your groupies?

  89. Ian says:

    I’m not sure how the commercials go down in America, but here in Australia they never really bothered me. People are still filing in when the commercials are rolling up (the doors are never locked). The commericials usually give people time too find a good seat, then ask a friend to save their spot so they can go to the toilet or grab some food before the movie starts. The lights are usually still up and most people talk during the commercials to get their last thoughts in before the movie begins. When the lights go down, thats when you know the trailers are starting up, so everyone is usually seated and quiet by then.
    I always found the commercials as ‘prep’ time before the /trailersmovie begins.

    And I am proud to say we still have discounted Tuesdays here in Australia (half price)…but here we affectionately call it ‘Cheap-ass Tuesdays” or “Tight-ass Tuesdays”.

  90. darkknight100 says:

    In Sydney, there is a movie theater that has twenty minutes of ads. LESS than half of which is actual movie trailers!




  91. Josh says:

    I wholeheartedly understand where you are coming from, but to be perfectly honest its not like that everywhere. Every single theater that I have gone to (granted its not that many) including the one that I work at shows commercials before the posted start time and starts showing trailers at the posted start time. Even when I get into a movie for free I do still get pissed off at the commercials that have to run because of the fact that they are taking my time away from me, but I also realize that the posted showtime hasnt passed yet and they are allowed to show whatever they want up until the posted showtime at which point they are expected to show a movie or trailers. Also, in my experiences the commercials are there to help pay for better equipment. For example, the theater that I work at in Fredericksburg, VA started showing commercials before the movie in order to raise money to pay for digital and 3-D projection. So its not all bad, and its not purely unused revenue, there usually is a reason for it to be there.

  92. Sound Designer Dan says:

    Did anyone else but me get a Denis Leary vibe while watching this? Damn Campea, you’re Leary impression is damn good.

  93. Dave says:

    Here in Belgium we have the same problem. Either you come late, don’t see the commercials but have a terrible seat OR sit through the commercials but have a better seat.
    But when we talk about ticket prices, the theatre owners (and I am talking from my experience here in Europe) do a lot of effort (like upgrading to digital projection, 3D-projection, better seats, adapted air-conditioning so that the top row has the same temperature as the bottom row, better sound, and what not) all for our enjoyment and comfort. The problem is, they still have to deal with greedy distributors who are NOT lowering their price for the movie. Even when they deliver a less expensive ‘hard disk’ instead of a ‘35mm film copy’, they are NOT lowering their prices for theatre owners. So for them there are two options if they want to get everything up to date: more expensive ticket price or … yes, commercials.
    I sympathize and share your frustration but I will sit and talk through those commercials with friends, if my theatre keeps its equipment up to date. On the other hand, there is a limit to what I am ready to pay. So one day, maybe theatre owners should take action.

  94. Nixon says:

    Man I love this topic, seriously
    your right, i was gonna say, well shouldn’t you get used to it with 80 movies a year,
    well look who’s talking !
    i watch movies barely, even though I’m a movie addict and when i watched FAST AND THE FURIOUS 4 which i really enjoyed it ! I had to watch a lot of comercials too…

    NOW John is it possible to sue them for lying or any kind lawsuit, because, In a way they are ruining us and it makes us feel we have no choice…
    And please people don’t tell me, to go rent because, they are not the same thing !!!!

  95. Sam says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve made that rant many times in the past.

  96. Scott A. says:

    Great rant John, I couldn’t agree with you more. I went to a movie one time here in Ohio and they actually showed an advertisement for the show How I Met Your Mother on CBS. It wasn’t one of those little what not to do in a theater ads with celebrities, it was actually previewing the show.

  97. Andrew James says:

    Here’s something you can actually do about it if anyone cares:


  98. Vince Guzzo says:

    Interesting approach! You now what really bugs me? People who have double standards and don’t understand why things are done.

    1) I don’t like commercial windows on your blog. They distract me from the reading and don’t serve a purpose

    2) Ever notice how many of the commercials in my theaters are for Community Organizations? Meaning they are given for FREE to people so they can reach their target audience?

    3) The cost of ticket admissions in Montreal are amongst the lowest in the country. You know why? Because me manage to make some $ off other things and can afford to keep admission prices lower and send less money to our friends south of the border.

    4) Be honest. Your just making a big deal about a small thing. And if you think about it, its stuff like this that has made our world so intolerable. No one obligates you to have to speak your mind every time something pisses you off. Just remember that going to the movies is about passing a good time. Clearly, your not having fun because you want to make an issue about everything. You should see the things that piss me off when I see people behave the way they do in my theaters. I can’t fight every battle. Its would make me go crazy. The ad fight isn’t worth it. Its in fact a very silly issue but if it makes you feel less stressed about other more important things, more power to you and what every tickles your fancy!


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