We all have experienced the frustration of not knowing when a movie begins.
The ticket may say 7:30, but it needs to be validated. If you arrive early to get good seats, you will have to wait until the program starts and be stuck viewing previews and advertisements.
There are also times when we try and outsmart our system by arriving late. We expect 15 minutes worth of previews, so many people make the error of coming at 7:45 to see a 7:30 movie. However, the previews are shorter than expected, and we miss the opening scenes.
Quick answer: How long do previews take before a movie starts?
If you want to skim the article to find the answer quickly, we’ll give you a summary here. We typically show previews 15 to 25 minutes before a movie.
These previews contain trailers for upcoming films, snacks and sodas, and advertisements for the theater you are currently in. Remember to turn off your phone before showtime.
Previews can last anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, but many variations exist. This is a rough estimate.
Continue reading to learn about the differences in theaters, times of the year, and movie genres.
Theater Differences- Variability and Caveats
Many people have noticed that theater chains may have different preview times. AMC may show previews for longer (or shorter) times than Cinemark down the street. This is not surprising.
Surprisingly, different theaters within the same company may have different preview lengths. AMC Dallas may show previews for 15 minutes, while AMC New York might have previews for 25 minutes.
It isn’t easy to draw solid conclusions because of all the variations. There are only guarantees if you know the man who pushes the play button at your local theatre.
There are, however, some trends that can still be observed.
- More significantly, national chains tend to have longer preview runtimes on average
AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Regal spend more time showing previews than small regional theaters. This could be because large national chains have established relationships with advertisers. Therefore, there is more demand (and money) for large chains to display advertisements.
If Coca-Cola spends money on Diet Coke ads before showtime, it’s more likely they will air these ads at a few thousand Regal or AMC locations than at your local art house theater.
Many independent theaters only show 10 minutes of previews. The only previews at the independent theater in my town (now closed) were 2-3 trailers of upcoming indie movies followed by an advertisement for the local cafe, which offered half-price coffee if you brought your ticket stub.
If you’re going to a local theater or art house that shows movies, it is essential that you arrive at the showtime, or even earlier, to enjoy the film. You can guarantee there will be 10+ minute previews at Regal and Cinemark. It is impossible to predict what will happen at independent theaters. This is because smaller theaters can be more difficult for late arrivals to get in.
- Preview runtimes of blockbuster films are usually longer.
There is no set rule. Thousands of anecdotal data points reached this conclusion.
You should expect to see a more extended preview than average if you’re going to the sold-out opening night of Marvel’s new superhero movie. This means you’ll be watching previews for 20 minutes or more (in some cases, it may even reach 30).
All of this boils down to dollars and pennies. Advertisers know that a blockbuster movie’s $150 million opening weekend means a lot of eyes. This means there will be more Coke ads, popcorn advertisements, and more information about premium cinema options at your theater.
- Preview runtimes can be longer during peak season.
This is in line with the previous point. You will see more trailers and ads if you watch July blockbusters than a minor February release. This is mainly a financial decision. Keep in mind that summer is a peak season. However, moviegoing can spike at other times of the year, like Christmas.
What time does the movie start? Are previews available at the movie’s opening time?
We have already covered that previews usually last between 15 and 25 minutes. However, some theaters offer significantly longer or shorter previews. You may only see 10 minutes of previews in smaller theaters that are independently owned. You can see previews for up to 25 minutes at larger chains of theaters, particularly during peak seasons and when there are major releases.
It would be best if you planned to arrive at the theater after the time indicated on your ticket.
First, be silent when you enter. Save time trying to find your seat or crowding other people already seated.
Let’s remember that some people enjoy previews and trailers. Trailers are not “just ads” but are an integral part of moviegoing for many.
Most theaters offer previews for between 15 and 25 minutes before the movie starts. However, it isn’t easy to draw any conclusions. It is best to sit by the time you have been assigned on your ticket if you’re in unfamiliar or new theaters. You can be sure you don’t miss any of it.
You want to avoid risking your safety by arriving late. Previews are usually 15 minutes long at most national theater chains during peak season and the release of major movies.
You can be sure that your film will start when you have booked. This is true even if the theater is independent or small-scale. Even if the theater shows previews, they may be much shorter than expected, possibly even 10 minutes.