Why don't I get to see Red Band trailers in the theater?

I see a ton of movies in the theater - more than 160 last year. I get there early enough to see the trailers. I see films of all ratings. But, no matter what the rating of the film, the trailers are all “green band” versions, the ones suitable for “appropriate audiences” (it changed from “all” a year or so ago).


I just saw the “red band” trailer for Kick-Ass. The regular trailer was fun, but the red band one was a scream. Why didn’t I see that one before a recent R rated film? Confusing trailers shouldn’t be the issue - that’s why the trailer has a red band - the start of the film is on the outer part of the reel. It’s red.

I don’t know the answer to your question, but I did work in a movie theater for 3 years. In all that time we only ever had one red band trailer. It’s been 15 years ago, so I don’t remember what the movie was or what the trailer was for. It seems like it was for a scary horror movie. It is odd that they never ever show them.

I believe it was mostly due to the risk of showing a red band trailer to the wrong audience (which will occasionally happen if you have two different versions of the same trailer floating around the multiplex) and creating an uproar.

Regal announced a couple of years ago that they were going to start showing red band trailers when appropriate but I’ve still never seen one at my local Regal theater (which gets 80% of my movie viewing).

They could be more effective. Keven Smith’s next film, Cop Out, has an astoundingly unfunny trailer. Hard to believe that there isn’t some actually funny stuff in there.

I recall having seen R-rated trailers attached to R-rated movies before – though, now that you mention it, not for years. I’m guessing it’s a cost issue. they have to make a shitload of prints, so it must be cheaper to just distribute one version.

Also, though, isn’t the deal with online “Red Band” trailers that they’re not rated at all? That might have something to do with it, if they haven’t been screened by the MPAA board.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen several red band trailers in theaters before, usually before unrated or NC-17 films, because they catch my attention and make me think “Oooh, a red band trailer! I wonder what they’ll show.” The most recent one I am thinking of is for the horror film “Thirst.”

I saw one, years and years ago, before an ‘R’ rated movie. I’m pretty sure it was for Raising Caine with John Lithgow. The red band raised my expectations, and the trailer didn’t meet them.

Yeah, but…it’s a trailer. Roughly three minutes of film. I know one trailer is attached to a film as it comes in, but I’m sure the other ones that are shown before any particular film are sent individually to each theater. Also, they send out different trailers as the film gets closer to release - “Teasers” then one version, then another. They’ll even make different trailer for different audiences for the same film - one that shows more action, one that is more about relationships.

I don’t think cost is an issue. I mean, it’s a commercial that gets shown to a captive audience. The cost of the trailer prints is not even a rounding error on the cocaine budget for the film.

No, the red bands I’ve seen have exactly the same wording as the green bands, except they are for “restricted audiences”. Not rated would not have any MPAA band at all.

I see them occasionally here in NYC, maybe one in ten are red-bands. However:

  • I’m in NYC, depraved dungeon of depravity

  • I go to a lot of cult and offbeat films, also to a lot of art theaters like the Sunshine and the Angelika and others with “the” in their names

  • I haven’t noticed them in front of mass-audience gorefests like KILL BILL but there was one before HOT FUZZ

  • If you’re expecting a lot, sorry, most of them don’t seem really different. Maybe they’ll flash a love scene where the lady is topless or you’ll see more blood spraying everywhere


I used to work in the ‘getting movie trailers played’ business.

Red Band trailers only play on Rated R films. This limits how much use you get out of the trailer. So it isn’t an attractive proposition to make a Red Band trailer. Not to mention that not all Rated R films are alike. Generally, you want the films to have a similar audience. So you could make a Red Band trailer and not have a place to show it.

Art Houses are different. They get very special treatment in the placement of trailers and they know what films they will be getting well in advance. An art house will sometimes have the only run of a film in a particular market and frequently, they are not part of a huge chain.

For instance in NYC, say your R rated movie is going to open at the AMC Empire and the film you want to target with that trailer is playing across the street at the Regal EWalk. The Ewalk isnt’ going to play the trailer, but it’s not too big a deal because the target film is down at the AMC 34th Street.

But The Angelica, well, they are on their own. So they have got to play the trailer, even if it isn’t a very good match. Lucky for them, art house audiences are very different from mainstream audiences.
Most of the big circuits will play a Red Band but only rated R films and it better be a good match. It’s just much easier to make a green band version, that plays on R and PG-13 and even PG films.

So to review, Red Band trailers are rare, and sometimes if they get made, they don’t necessarily get played where you go.

The Red Band trailer is pretty hysterical. NSFW