As reported on IMDb today, the Loews Cineplex exhibition chain is going the European route, after much angry prompting, and posting the actual start times for movies, as opposed to times when the trailers and ads start:
"Responding to complaints from moviegoers -- and the threat of legislation -- Loews Cineplex Entertainment said that beginning next week, ads listing the times for the movies being shown in its theaters will also carry a note reading, "The feature presentation starts 10 to 15 minutes after the posted show time." The note will first appear in ads for theaters in Connecticut, then two weeks later in the rest of the country. John McCauley, head of marketing for the theater chain, told today's (Wednesday) New York Times that it was only coincidence that the initial test will be held in Connecticut, where a state representative has sponsored a bill requiring real-time listings."
I'm not holding my breath for the possibility of an actual courtesy flush on the "pre-show entertainment" here. And most theaters don't provide reserved seating, so if you're expecting to be able to walk into a screening of, oh, say, Star Wars Episode II: Revenge of the Sith two minutes before the actual feature starts in order to avoid the asinine Coca-Cola and Juicy Fruit ads, as well as trailers for The Fantastic Four, well, you may find yourself without a place to park your arse. But it is encouraging that one of these corporations has finally started to bend a little bit to incessant complaints from its customers about being subjected to advertising after having paid $10 or more for the privilege of the theatrical experience, which is, after all, supposed to be substantially different from watching television. Theater chains always counter that the pre-show "entertainment" helps them defray the high cost of the movie exhibition business, while always failing to mention that the real culprit here may just be their own overzealous construction of too many movie theaters in which to exhibit a very limited amount of mainstream Hollywood blockbuster fare. And really, by telling you that Star Wars Episode III really starts at 7:15, and not the advertised 7:00, they're not exactly telling you something you couldn't have figured out by employing your handy Texas Instruments calculator to do a few fancy goezintas. It's a minor concession to complaints, that's all, but if the complaints keep pouring in, maybe the concessions will start to become a little more meaningful.