It looked bad, but everything’s hunky Dory.
It could have been an ad for Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks. Instead, parents of California kiddies attending a screening of Finding Dory at the Brenden Concord 14 were in for a shock when the pre-show coming attractions launched a trailer for the R-rated, family-unfriendly animated comedy, Sausage Party.
The preview featured anthropomorphic grocery items begging to be plucked from store shelves. Once home, their consumers plunged them into boiling water or peeled their eyes out, all sorts of horrific torture that probably made a greater impact on impressionable viewers than Pixney’s watered-down sequel.
A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit Disney’s Home for Battered Fish.
The East Bay Times quoted a written apology from Walter Eichinger, Brenden’s vice president of operations, that read in part, “Playing that trailer was a one-time honest mistake by a theater manager moving screens around in effort to accommodate several large last-minute groups wanting to see Dory.”
During my tenure as manager of a suburban five-screen, 35mm trailers came on cores with printed instructions from the head office schooling managers on the art of preview placement. Following orders, it was then up to the projectionist to assemble the coming attractions and splice them at the head of the feature.
Sausage Party trailer
Things have changed in the digital age. A holler to a local booth operator who asked that his name not be used — call him Bruno Winter — brought me up to speed on the current mode of trailer exhibition. Most theatre chains tack six trailers, usually ten minutes worth, onto the pre-show festivities, a good buffer time for stragglers.
Studios lay claim to pre-show rights. If the feature playing is a Paramount picture, the coming attractions are contractually obliged to showcase previews for two of the studio’s future releases. The remaining slots are programmed by the exhibitor taking into consideration his/her audience demographics. It stands to reason that a trailer for Neighbors 2 should never preface Miracles From Heaven. Wrong crowd for that joke.
It’s Bruno’s guess that in the rush to free up a screen to accommodate the overflow, someone in the booth surmised all cartoons are alike and went with Sausage Party. This same mindset would have once previewed Fritz the Cat for an audience eagerly anticipating Snoopy Come Home.