For many years, Australian parents have been able to take their children to the cinema, confident that they will not be exposed to advertising for movies that are not likely to be suitable for them.
At present, trailers may only be shown if the classification of the promoted film is the same or lower than the feature , ie if the feature is PG, trailers can only be for G or PG films; in a G feature, only trailers for G films.
There has been for some time a strong push by cinemas in Australia to relax the rules. They want to be able to screen “toned-down” trailers for movies that have a classification higher than the feature., ie a “PG type” trailer for an M movie with a PG feature.
Experience with “toned-down” trailers on free-to air TV (where the practice is permitted) raises significant doubts about its likely success in cinemas. The imperative to select exciting and visually impactful shots for a trailer often overrides the need to match a lower classification. In a cinema, with a big screen and surround sound, the impact of trailers is magnified, and can be extremely scary to a child audience.
An excursion to the cinema is a reasonably costly exercise and parents, having chosen a movie that they think will be age-appropriate for their children, have a right to expect that the other content in the program will be too. They expect that their children will not be encouraged to want to see age-inappropriate movies. In addition, where such movies have yet to be classified (CTC), identifying the actual classification of such movies will add to parents’ problems.