How Long Are Movie Previews? A Detailed Look at Theatrical Trailer Runtimes

How Long Are Movie Previews

A deep dive into the standard runtimes and trends for theatrical trailers over the years. This in-depth guide examines How Long Are Movie Previews? typically last according to genre, release strategy, and audience testing.

Movie previews, also known as theatrical trailers, have become an iconic part of the cinematic experience. But how long are these coming attraction sneak peeks supposed to run? Let’s take a closer look at the history, guidelines, and trends around movie trailer lengths. Read also Walmart’s Diaper Return Policy.

A Brief History of Movie Trailers

  • Originated in the early 20th century as a way to tease upcoming films
  • The earliest known preview was for the 1913 film The Pleasure Seekers
  • Previews became more ubiquitous through the 1930s and 1940s
  • The format evolved from showing full scenes to quick spliced montages
  • Trailer lengths expanded in 1950s and 1960s to 3-5 minutes
  • Modern style of fast clips, music, and voiceover established by the 1970s

MPAA Guidelines on Trailer Lengths

  • Recommends theatrical trailers run no longer than 2:30 minutes
  • Avoids excessive and repetitious content in previews
  • Helps prevent distracting or annoying moviegoers
  • Provides a more impactful and concise promotional experience
How Long Are Movie Previews

Average Running Times of Theatrical Trailers

Summer Blockbusters

  • Big action and adventure films tend to have longer trailers
  • The average length is 2:30 to 3 minutes
  • Allows for establishing big set pieces, cast, and story scope
  • Recent examples:
    • The Lion King (2019) – 2:33
    • Avengers: Endgame (2019) – 2:58
    • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – 2:35

Animated Films

  • Family-friendly animated previews tend to be shorter
  • The average length is 2:00 to 2:30 minutes
  • Focuses on fun characters, humor, and bright visuals
  • Recent examples:
    • Toy Story 4 (2019) – 2:28
    • Frozen 2 (2019) – 2:18
    • The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) – 2:00


  • Comedy trailers highlight the best jokes and cameos
  • Tend to be on the shorter side around 1:30 to 2:00
  • Quick clips keep the humor rapid-fire
  • Recent examples:
    • Good Boys (2019) – 2:25
    • Long Shot (2019) – 2:24
    • Yesterday (2019) – 2:13

Horror Movies

  • Suspenseful teasers aiming for shock value
  • Average between 1:30 to 2:30 minutes
  • Prioritizes creepy scenes and jump scares
  • Recent examples:
    • It Chapter Two (2019) – 2:50
    • Child’s Play (2019) – 2:11
    • Pet Sematary (2019) – 2:32


  • More serious genres have moderate trailer lengths
  • Average times from 1:30 to 2:30 minutes
  • Condenses storyline, characters, and intrigue
  • Recent examples:
    • Knives Out (2019) – 2:25
    • 1917 (2019) – 2:35
    • Uncut Gems (2019) – 2:00

Factors Impacting Trailer Lengths

  • Release date – Summer trailers tend to be longer
  • Genre – Action and horror allow more time than comedy
  • Production budget – Big blockbusters get longer trailers
  • Target audience – Family films aim for shorter previews
  • Amount of footage completed – More material enables longer trailers
How Long Are Movie Previews
Surprised man watching the movie with a friend
  • Average lengths increased into the 2000s, some reaching 3 minutes
  • The rise of internet trailers led to shorter & more impactful theatrical versions
  • Recently average lengths have declined to match MPAA guidelines
  • More emphasis on unique teaser trailers versus full plot outlines
  • Leaner and meaner focus to highlight the premise and visuals

Ways Theaters Manage Trailer Lengths

  • Carefully programming previews to fit time allotments
  • Limiting each trailer to under 3 minutes
  • Avoiding excessive filler or duplicate trailers
  • Only screening theatrical trailers rather than TV spots
  • Planning around longer trailers for major releases
  • Cutting trailers off or swapping them to prevent delays

Do Moviegoers Enjoy Long Trailers?

Potential Benefits

  • Provides an immersive preview experience
  • Allows trailer to tell a story vs just show clips
  • Gives more first looks for highly anticipated films
  • Builds more anticipation and excitement

Potential Drawbacks

  • Can feel too long if packed with spoilers
  • Repetitive or redundant for back-to-back trailers
  • Delays the feature film start time
  • This leads to restless or annoyed audiences

Best Practices For Theatrical Trailer Lengths

  • Follow MPAA guidelines for 2:30 minutes or less
  • Focus on unique scenes that highlight the premise
  • Prioritize visuals over excessive plot details
  • Leave audiences wanting more instead of giving away everything
  • Fit genre conventions for optimal impact
  • Program trailers efficiently to avoid delays
  • Survey moviegoers for feedback on time preferences

The Future of Movie Trailer Lengths

  • Will new platforms like streaming affect lengths?
  • Could interactive trailers become more common?
  • Will more teaser versus full trailers be produced?
  • Can data help determine ideal trailer times?
  • Will evolving viewer habits shorten typical previews?

How long are movie previews Cineplex

Here are some key points about how long movie previews typically run at Cineplex theaters:

Cineplex aims to start its main feature films at the advertised showtime.This is to ensure that the main feature begins on time.
Total trailer and promotional content before a film should run approximately 20 minutes.Cineplex has established guidelines for the duration of pre-show content, including trailers.
Individual movie trailers at Cineplex usually range from 1-3 minutes in length.The length of individual trailers can vary within this range.
Trailers for big blockbusters tend to be on the longer end of that range.Major blockbuster films often have longer trailers as part of their promotional strategy.
Cineplex programmers work closely with movie studios and distributors to curate an optimal selection of trailers and promotional spots.They collaborate with industry partners to create a balanced selection of pre-show content.
The number of trailers shown can vary based on the length of the main feature, trying to find the right balance of pre-show content.The selection of trailers may vary to ensure a well-paced pre-show experience.
During peak times like new release weekends, Cineplex may intentionally reduce the trailer reel to get to the feature faster.To accommodate high-demand periods, Cineplex may shorten the pre-show content for quicker start times.
They have received customer feedback about excessively long trailers and ads delaying start times. This has led to stricter limits.Customer feedback has prompted Cineplex to implement stricter limits on pre-show content duration.
While individual trailer lengths can vary, their goal is to have pre-show content last around 15-20 minutes maximum to meet guest expectations.Cineplex aims to maintain a pre-show duration within a specific time frame to align with customer expectations.

Final Words

While individual movie trailers may vary, most theatrical previews tend to run between 1:30 to 3:00 minutes. Genre, release strategy, studio marketing, and audience testing all factor into determining optimal trailer lengths. Following MPAA guidance, emphasizing quality over quantity, and focusing on uniqueness rather than duplication will likely make for memorable, effective movie trailers. Though formats may change, the theatrical preview remains an enduring ritual for movie fans.