/ Travel & Leisure

I go to the cinema to watch films – not 19 adverts

People bored and asleep at cinema

Everyone expects some ads when they go to the cinema, but 19 just kills the whole experience. Is it just my local cinema abusing the ad breaks or is this a widespread problem that needs to be addressed?

I’ve recently come back to the UK after living in China for two years, and one of the things I was really looking forward to was going to the cinema to see all the new films.

Western film releases are heavily controlled in the People’s Republic, with only the endlessly repetitive comic-book hero blockbusters making it into the multiplex.

So, I couldn’t wait to watch the latest releases. Until, that is, I actually went to my local cinema.

Too long to wait for the film

I know that cinemas are finding the current economic climate tough, but the number of ads the audience is forced to sit through is over-the-top.

Last night, before I watched the screening of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy the audience was subjected to 19 adverts, five film trailers, one booming sound system trail and an excruciating Orange phone break ‘turn your phone off’ reminder. It was 28 minutes before the ‘8pm’ screening actually started – no wonder the man in the next row started snoring!

And that’s not my worst example. Nearly 50 minutes of bum-numbing tedium preceded my trip to see ‘Harry Potter and the Second Half of the Book that was Too Long to Make into One Film’. The audience nearly cried with relief when the film classification certificate appeared on the screen – there was sarcastic hand-clapping all round.

Ads are having the opposite effect

As far as I’m concerned, making me sit through so many adverts actually reduces my desire to buy any of the products I’ve been exposed to. I resent paying my ticket fee to be forced to watch ads for three different types of beer I won’t drink and four separate ads for a car I would rather throw myself in front of than have to watch again (and will certainly never consider driving now).

I wouldn’t mind a couple of adverts followed by some tempting trailers for future films, but 19 is just too many. Is my local cinema in the minority with this extended ad break before the film? I hope so, because it’s really making me reconsider my desire to go to the cinema. I go to be entertained, not bored and frustrated.


It is good to read this. Ads do put me off buying products and it is good to hear that I am not the only one.

Gloucester too! says:
25 September 2011

Couldn’t agree more Victoria. I stopped going some time ago as I also found the smell of popcorn etc. off-putting and the sticky floors unpleasant. Last week my wife persuaded me to try again for a recent release but I was disappointed again. It was the same as before but now there’s the added distraction of people constantly ‘playing’ with mobile ‘phones, even during the main feature. Oh for the days of my youth, when there were just a few local ad’s, the main feature, an intermission (when the usherettes brought out ice creams or KiaOra to buy) and then a second film all for the price of a single ticket. No wonder cinema going was so popular then, you didn’t feel ripped-off and the atmosphere was pleasant!

Count me in as another miserable so and so here. I ‘used’ to go to the ubiquitous multiplex a lot – I stopped going about 3 years ago.
Noisy Kids.
Tedious Adverts.
Allocated Seating.
Too Loud Audio.
Sticky Floors.

They should advertise the actual FILM START times. You don’t go to a football match and wonder what time kick off will be !

Though funnily enough last time I went to a Showcase Cinema, it did go straight in to the film at the appointed hour, so I missed the first 15 minutes as I always used to go in 15 mins after the start time to miss the ads…..

North Wales says:
25 September 2011

I agree with all of the above coments except that I love the trailers and am a supporter of allocated seating. I have noticed a growing trend of adults talking through the main film, usually groups of women who are getting together to catch up. Why they don’t meet up for coffee or a meal instead I cannot imagine. Feet on seats or on the back of the seat in front is another ignorant habit I cannot abide – why do cinema staff ignore this when they have night vision cctv to observe the audience? Very often I just wait for the dvd to come out just so I don’t have to endure blood pressure rises / confrontations or nausea from wafts of cheesy nacho’s and popcorn.

This is why on the rare occasion i go to the cinema i arrive half an hour late. No que for the tickets as everyone has already rushed in, no que for the food and drink as everyone rushed in early to sit in the screen and watch Ads. Usually timed just brilliantly.

I don’t mind a few ads on the whole, but there are two that really annoy me:

1. Those horrendous Orange adverts that piggyback on a forthcoming film. The ad using the trailer for Potiche was particularly annoying – anyone who speaks even basic French could work out the entire plot of the film just from this patronising and ‘comically’ mis-subtitled advert.

2. The cola advert in Cineworld that says ‘There’s still time for a Coke’ before the film starts – when I’ve already been sitting there for 20 minutes, the last thing I want to hear is that the film won’t be starting for at least another 10 minutes. Like the Orange example above, it just damages the brand that is doing the advertising.

(I did love the Coke advert last year with the animals and insects stealing a bloke’s bottle of cola – it worked great on the big screen).

John Loughborough says:
23 March 2015

You have just fallen for the advertisers clever trick, the annoying ones get remembered!
But that aside I agree whole heartedly with this thread, not been to cinema for a while went today to see a film that started at ‘2.55pm’ the film actually started at 3.30!!! As it was a matinee there were lots of retired people watching, So, Showcase Leicester when did it finish? just after 5! what a lovely time to leave town, had it started at 2.55 we would have missed the rush hour, but hey that’s not their problem is it. The ads and trailers have put me off again for a while.

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 September 2011

I’m showing my age here, but I used to love going to the cinema when there was a shortie first (short length film), usually a documentary, a cartoon, or a short, quirky, “arty” film, then there was a break with the lights back when an usherette sold icecream and other nice things, then they would show a few ads, which usually were a pleasure to watch on the big screen, and then finally there was the main, feature length film. People would all arrive on time and find a seat they were happy with without disturbing anyone in the dark, they would stop talking the second something appeared on the screen, and they didn’t make any other noise, munching or otherwise, for the rest of the show or the usherettes would get them telt! Going to the cinema was an absolute treat. Now it’s just about a chore and certainly not worth the money.

Call me weird but I actually enjoy the adverts before the film, especially ones where the creators actually go to the effort of making an effort for the big screen – surround sound effects and dramatic scenes, car adverts do this very well!

I’m with Martyn though, the stupid Orange adverts are unnecessary, as are the ones trying to sell me the overpriced cinema confectionery; if I’d wanted it I would have got it when I walked past the kiosk!

I also love the upcoming film trailers, without them I probably wouldn’t know what was on at the cinema and what I’d like to go and watch.

I totally agree with the other comments, cinema going is not now enjoyable anymore.
The adverts are too long and the people watching are totally anti social.
People talk all the way through, rustle bags of sweets and popcorn, slurp drinks and then drop the empties on the floor. The worst is the flashing of mobile phone screens in the corner of your eye.
I cringe now at the thought of been asked to go to the cinema.
Each cinema should have a person in the room at all times and they should have a torch and the power to remove noisy people and those that use their mobiles.
How about asking for volunteers to act as ‘ wardens’ in exchange for free annual passes for so many nights attendance. It wouldn’t cost anything apart from a tabbard and ID badge, and people would be more likely to attend if they knew that at least they stood a chance of seeing the film without disturbance.

One of the issues is that cinemas are paid to show the adverts and this is budgeted for when setting prices.

However I have never had more than 15mins of adverts and 2 trailers at my local independent cinema and usually it is only 10 mins worth.

I can’t afford to go to the cinema now I’m an OAP – far cheaper to wait awhile and buy a used DVD on Ebay or Amazon. No adverts either.

….and on a completely disassociated matter – sort of – did anybody notice the overly gratuitous product placement of ‘Apple’ products in Spooks last night?
I know it goes on, but it was overkill aplenty.

Gerard Phelan says:
26 September 2011

The Odeon website says that adverts and trailers are normally 25 minutes long and that is my experience. Having enjoyed my annual visit for the final Harry Potter, I guess the next will be December 2012 for “The Hobbit” Part 1.

Oh and bad news for those planning to escape the adverts by watching the DVD. They now put adverts on DVDs of popular films. When trying to skip over the adverts on a previous Harry Potter DVD, I found myself watching an unfamiliar set of adverts in German! Well at least it made a change!

I honestly love the adverts and get very stressed when a late companion – or similar – makes me miss them. It is quite commonly known that the film doesn’t start right at the beginning of the programme, so it’s not too hard to avoid them, is it?

Except Joanna, when they do. Such as at my local Showcase – depending on which showing it is – but they don’t tell you in advance…

Lengthy adverts are annoying. But I’d be prepared to sit through twice as many if it meant cinemas reduced their damn ticket prices. At £20 for a couple, it isn’t possible to go and see anything but the films I’m desperate to see. I’d love to go more casually more often, but not at that price.

See if there are any independent cinemas in your area – they may well be cheaper.
Locally prices are £5 – £6 per person.

I’m confused by this article, in no way are you required or forced to view the adverts preceding your film at the cinema. If you ask the personnel at the kiosk for the start time of the film and not the ‘Start’ time that includes the trails you can easily avoid them.

Consider the ads an added tax for ensuring you have the best seats.

The Pearson's says:
1 November 2011

Yes I agree with most of the other comments although we do like the opportunity to choose which seat number we will park our bodies in, usually ones in the aisle so we can stretch out old legs. We are at the age when we can get discounts on ticket prices and we only go on Orange Wednesdays, best price so far £5.60 for two, not bad for an evenings entertainment even with the sticky floors, yes we aslo have them in Tunbridge Wells!!!

jimmyjones says:
3 November 2011

Hate most adverts in cinema but that’s life.
Disagree on Orange ads though. The current one with the stupid american’s is hilarious.

roby says:
29 January 2012

I sat through 33 minutes of ads and other nonsense at the Clapham Picturehouse the other afternoon – a quarter of the overall time I spent in the theatre. I was offended – I thought it a damn cheek, really. Just because they have you as a captive audience, they think they can bombard you with that nonsense. It’s getting longer and longer each time I return to the cinema. The woman next to me had to leave before the film ended because she hadn’t anticipated it starting so late! They should warn you: “The film is 90 minutes, but will start after 33 minutes of ads and stuff, so you’ll be out of there at least 2 hours later.” I don’t think that’s on. I wont go back there in a hurry. Good luck to them!