*No pun intended
I just saw Coco, a beautiful and poignant work of art. Sadly, the experience was ruined ever so slightly by the preceding “short film” Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (yes, that Olaf). This 20-minute marketing ploy, after I had already heard the overwhelming negative response, soured my opinion even more. There’s absolutely no reason this thing should even exist, especially before a cinematic milestone like Coco. But it further illustrates a larger problem that is ruining movie theaters everywhere; I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie that actually started playing at the designated time. With trailers, short films, and promotions for the theater itself all contributing to the delay, it forces us to sit in our chairs and endure a boring slog that only wastes what little time we can devote to the movies anyway.
I’ve said before that there’s nothing like watching a film on the big screen. But the statement also implies a sole desire to enjoy the main event rather than all the bonus unnecessary content. Let’s start with trailers, which have been a constant in theaters forever. This may not be the case for everyone, but as a fan, I take it upon myself to see at least every blockbuster trailer soon after it premieres online. Sure, I don’t mind seeing the truly epic ones in a theater (Black Panther, The Last Jedi, etc.), but it does become repetitive seeing the Geostorm preview for the third or fourth time. With the current social media landscape, it’s almost impossible for someone to witness a trailer in the theater for the first time. So other than briefly getting your hopes up, I feel like the marketing department is actually pitching their movie to a smaller population than expected. Again, I understand why they feel obligated to show a trailer, but I firmly believe that if you’re eagerly anticipating a film (blockbuster or otherwise), you’re going to see it regardless of what the advertisements show you. Maybe something new and interesting will catch your eye, but there’s always the Internet (and word of mouth) to help in this situation.
Short films are less common, but still take up a good chunk of time in the theater. The worst example may be these so-called student films that Regal Cinemas put out. Winners from various universities present a 30-second clip of a “film” they made that contains egregious product placement and a weird nonsensical plot (if you can label it that). It’s hard to explain, so here’s one for your “enjoyment” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ESDWzAuraY). Tell me, what’s the freaking point? Are we just supposed to cheer for some kids who won a contest? To make matters worse, their film isn’t even fully realized; it’s simply an ad promoting the company that picked them to win in the first place. If a theater absolutely has to show them, do so before the trailers since I feel like only people who show up early to a movie would enjoy this form of entertainment.
Not all short films are garbage though. Pixar has graced us with some masterpieces over the years (Knick Knack, Lifted, and Piper are some of my favorites), giving young animators a major opportunity to showcase their skills. They’re not all homeruns (Lava is downright creepy), but I can rest easy knowing they don’t last more than 5-7 minutes. That’s not the case with the aforementioned Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which clocks in at four times the length and a million times the nuisance (I chuckled maybe twice). Olaf is like the Minions from Despicable Me: fine in small doses, but put him front and center and the nightmare never ends. Accompanied by a soundtrack that’s almost as long as the original Frozen, it’s hard to comprehend how Disney let this happen. Did they think non-Hispanic audiences wouldn’t go see Coco unless there was something more universally appealing before it? Were they furiously trying to assemble something to remind you that there is indeed going to be a Frozen 2 (easiest decision ever)? Whatever the reasoning, it’s a tremendous waste of time that runs longer than your typical short film and doesn’t engage you on an emotional level like its Pixar counterparts. Thank goodness it’s getting pulled soon.
All this is enough to make you ask: why even bother showing up on time to a movie? As long as they don’t lock the doors, I could walk in 20 minutes late and not miss a beat. In all honesty, there isn’t a good answer to that question. On one hand, tardiness is a habit that can be hard to break. But if you could spend those 20 minutes doing something more important before escaping into the movie world each time, why not go for it? Do you really need to see certain trailers again or self-promotional ads that the theater puts out to remind you where your money’s going? This lines up with my plea to all moviegoers post from awhile back; when you decide to venture out to the theater, make smart decisions as far as your capability allows. Maybe spend some quality time with your family (as Coco taught us) before frivolously wasting time on pointless previews.