A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney. This was first broadcast on Feb. 29, 2004.
There are several things we do in this country better than anyone else. One of them is make movies.
They produce a lot of junk in Hollywood, but they also turn out a few movies every year that are good entertainment and real art. They call it cinema when it's art.
I don't know why it is, but whenever one person does something well, someone else always comes along and tries to get in on a good thing with a bad, moneymaking idea.
I don't go to a lot of movies, but the last few times I've been, the picture didn't actually start for 15 minutes after they said it was going to. The first thing you have to sit through is the advertising for what they call "coming attractions" -- their next five movies. Wouldn't an ad for just one be enough?
The editors who make these trailers seem to think violence will get people to come to a movie. They have tumbling car crashes, great balls of fire, walls of sand and sword fights. There is never any intelligent dialogue in any of them.
Now, movie theaters have started doing something even worse to delay the start of the picture you just paid to see: They show actual commercials. Don't they understand that's what we go to a movie to get away from - commercials?
At least on television, you get to watch network shows free in exchange for being advertised at. None of us like it, but it's a deal we accept. You get 60 Minutes for nothing, but you have to watch 15 minutes of advertising.
Why should we have to watch advertising before a movie we paid to get in to see? Just tell us what time the show starts. That's when we'll come.
Ray and Joe Syufy, two brothers in San Rafael, Calif., run the seventh-largest movie chain in the country. They don't use commercials in any of their theaters.
I called Ray Syufy and asked him why he's one of the few theater owners who doesn't run commercials before the feature film starts.
"Our viewers. That's a false economy. People will stop going to the show potentially as often as they do today if it's not a different enough experience," says Syufy. "So we are committed to no TV commercials in our theaters. It doesn't make much sense for them to be sitting in our theaters and being sold toothpaste."
There ought to be a law that a movie theater has to say exactly what time the show starts. If we want advertising, we'll stay home and watch it for free on television.
Written By Andy Rooney
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.