Regal, the nation's largest cinema operator, made the announcement last week at ShoWest (yet the news hit the trades too late for my summary) and will begin looking at red band ads this week to see which film gets to be the inaugural title (the chain has already been quietly experimenting with a few at its Art Theaters). Obviously the trailers will only be shown before movies rated R or NC-17 or which are unrated. And most of them will likely continue to be for Judd Apatow movies. The move by Regal should put some new life into the marketing of certain movies -- Semi-Pro might have done better had its red band trailer been shown in theaters -- and will possibly influence other cinema chains to follow suit.
It's easy to forget that doing away with restricted trailers was a choice by exhibitors and studios. The former stopped showing them following the infamous 2000 Federal Trade Commission report on movie marketing. And the latter just discontinued making them because they weren't being screened. But then the internet changed things by giving red band trailers a new arena. In recent years more films, primarily those in the horror and raunchy comedy genres, were appropriately being sold for their gore and gross. Last fall, the LA Times even wrote a story about the huge influx of red bands arriving on the web.
One of the reasons that Regal has finally decided to bring back the red bands (aside from being the coolest cinema chain after Alamo Drafthouse) is because digital projectors make it harder to accidentally show the R-rated trailers to kids. In my experience as a projectionist, I've witnessed a number of times when the wrong movie is mistakenly begun or when the wrong trailer has been mistakenly attached to a print. Apparently, with digital projectors, this will never happen.