National Edition

Red-band trailers: Why parents should know what they are, and how easy they are to access

Published: Friday, Aug. 16 2013 10:30 a.m. MDT

"While it contains some stronger content … Restricted Audience Advertising may not contain all of the scenes of sex, violence and/or language that may be contained in an R, NC-17 … film," according to the MPAA's advertising administration.

The advertising administration specifically outlines what cannot be included in a red-band trailer, most specifically regarding sex and violence.

For example, as stated in the advertising administration rules, a red-band trailer may not contain extreme violence including graphic decapitation or dismemberment ,or extreme gore or torture.

Many filmmakers argue that red-band trailers show a more accurate slice of the film than one that's marketed to all audiences.

"The only truly representative way to market (these trailers) was to reveal some of the dirty jokes they had in store," wrote Variety senior film critic Peter Debruge. "Universal went all out with 'Ted' last summer, fully embracing the film's irreverent sense of humor by creating reams of red-band trailers."

And the MPAA agrees, according to Marilyn Gordon, senior vice president of the advertising administration at the MPAA.

“Red-band trailers can be useful to distributors as an alternative avenue of previewing their film for adults,” Gordon said.

But some parents, like Moss, may disagree with the practicality of such trailers.

"I don't know that the red-band trailers are needed," Moss said. "Especially since (the MPAA) is switching their rating material and trying to be more transparent."

Moss referred to the MPAA's new "Check the Box" campaign, announced earlier this year. Movie audiences now see additional information in the green-band trailer notification. Inside the ratings box, there is a listing of content advisories explaining the film's rating, with labels such as "thematic elements," "sexual content" and "violence."

"I think the job of a trailer is to communicate a genre," Moss said. "They communicate the elements of a story that makes the movie different. I think it's to be most often through green-band trailers. I get the feeling the red-band trailer is to drum up conversation about the film."

Originally, red-band trailers were shown exclusively in theaters prior to an R-rated film, but now, thanks to the accessibility of the Internet, many theaters have stopped showing them.

In Salt Lake City, Cinemark theaters do not show red-band trailers. AMC will occasionally show one before an R or NC-17 film.

But when it comes to the Internet, the onus is on parents.

Moss said he's not too concerned about his own children watching red-band trailers online because of the good judgement they have already shown when it comes to selecting movies.

"I just know that right now you have to know exactly what you’re looking for in order to find (a red-band trailer)," Moss said. "They are not things that my kids are going to go look for."

Moss, who also teaches as an adjunct professor in BYU's theater and media department, said his children are conscientious when it comes to movies.

"We are very transparent about the sites we go to to find out about these films," he said.

Sites such as OK.com or Common Sense media have become staples in the Moss home, with Moss' children sometimes visiting the site themselves to determine if the movie is what they want to view.

And while some parents may feel secure in their children's online activities, the key to Internet safety, according to Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, is all about communication.

"We believe that (online safety) is a conversation that needs to be had with kids," Balkam said. "An age appropriate conversation needs to be had every year."

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com or on Twitter: emmiliebuchanan

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