Loews theatres is abandoning its deceptive practice of advertising movie start-times that were 10-20 minutes earlier than the actual show time, and then forcing the customers they suckered into turning up early to watch commercials, a captive audience. This is great news — let's hope the rest of the movie theatres follow suit.
Traditionally, moviegoers would sit through cutesy "Let's All Go To the Lobby"-type spots attempting to coax the audience to concession stands, followed by a handful of coming-attraction trailers. In recent years, as local movie houses have expanded into megaplexes, exhibitors have begun to wring every ounce of revenue from each showing. First, more trailers were added. Then came the now standard slideshows of local merchants interspersed with lame-o trivia (full disclosure: E! has done its own movie-theater factoids) and Muzak-esque "movie tunes." There were also short films designed to hawk everything from Coca-Cola to the Los Angeles Times. Now, exhibitors routinely air long-form commercials that have little to do with the theatrical experiences, including spots for automobile manufacturers, perfume makers and credit card companies.
Loews isn't the only offender. Regal Entertainment touts what it calls "The 2wenty," a 20-minute block of advertising and "preshow entertainment" that mixes informercials for DVDs and TV movies with behind-the-scenes visits with stars–the idea being to make it entertaining enough that people don't notice they're being marketed to.
Update: JWZ sez, "I don't think a generic footnote in their add that says 'the feature presentation starts 10 to 15 minutes after the posted show time' really counts as no longer lying about the start time!
"First of all, which is it, ten or fifteen?
Second, which of the two times will movie times aggregators like
movies.yahoo.com and moviefone publish? And how will I know which