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Discovery: Movie Trailers & The Theater Experience

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As box offices prepare for bustling holiday crowds, studios are scrambling to drive interest in their holiday releases via promotion of their movie trailers. While trailers may be distributed through a myriad of means — in the theater, online, or in abbreviated forms on television — what roles do movie trailers play in the theater experience? Are they received as a hero, a villain, or a forgettable extra? Are people interested enough to search for trailers online?

Two of our latest surveys gauge popularity and preference regarding movie trailers from over 20,000 DISQO Audience members. We’re here to share the results!

Movie Trailer Enjoyment

An overwhelmingly large majority (79%) express enjoyment when watching movie trailers in theaters. Interestingly, however, when a movie trailer ad appears on their screen while browsing online, only 34% state that they’ll watch the full trailer. For many (42%), the decision on whether to skip or watch will depend on the movie being shown.


Why is this? Arguably, it boils down to interest and relevance in the trailer, a topic which we will be exploring in more detail next week when we share the results of a study on ad relevance. After all, trailers shown before a movie typically are of the same genre of the movie being shown, increasing the likelihood that the viewer will find the trailer interesting. Furthermore, trailers shown before a feature film are being presented at a time when viewers are theoretically in the right mood to watch a short film, as they already are preparing their attention to watch something much longer.

Movie Trailer Attitudes

Since movie trailers are a hit for a majority of theater goers, would people also say that it’s their favorite part of the theater experience? About 21% agree that trailers are their favorite part, which is quite interesting given that these trailers are not the main attraction.

Affecting the Theater Experience

Whether movie trailers are a favorite or not, a majority (60%) report that trailers add value to the theater experience.

If some people (15%) don’t find that trailers add value to the theater experience, does this mean that trailers hinder the theater experience? This isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, about 62% wouldn’t say that trailers hinder the movie experience.

Searching for Trailers

How many people actively search for movie trailers when they’re browsing online? Just over a half (52%) of people search for trailers online. About 3% claim they do it all the time. Another 8% search for trailers often and 30% search sometimes. A majority find these trailers on Youtube (53%) and just over a quarter watch trailers on social media (26%). Other sources include the official movie website (19%) and movie review sites (13%).

After-Credit Scenes

If viewing 20 minutes of trailers before a movie isn’t enough, most movie-goers (66%) choose to stay beyond the credits in case there’s an additional scene. However, about a third of people (34%), would rather exit the theater than stay through the credits.

And so, as studios scramble to secure last minute placements for their trailers before the holidays, it is important to keep in mind likely audience attitudes and behaviors in reaction to a given trailer placement. Is it relatable to the content the user has come to watch? Does it captivate before it may be skipped? Does it effectively encourage people to seek out more information, or will it be forgotten by the time they exit the theater or finish their planned programming?

Of course, it is wiser yet to measure actual shifts in sentiment and behaviors in a timely manner so that advertising dollars are optimized toward the creatives and placements that actually drive box office sales.

About the Studies

Discoveries in this article were collected over a two-part survey. The first survey reached 20,195 members of the DISQO Audience and asked participants questions regarding their attitudes towards movie trailers in theaters. The second survey reached 19,689 members of the DISQO Audience and uncovered online movie trailer searching activities.

Join the Conversation.

Are movie trailers your favorite part of the movie theater experience? Join the conversation on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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