DVDs From Hell: How to Deal with Unskippable Trailers & Ads

dvd playerOne recent weekend not too long ago I came home to find out that both my kids happened to be spending the night at neighbors’ homes. Heh.

Of course, I’m sure all of you who are married with children know what that means.

But before that could actually happen I had to grease the skids. Er, so to speak.

Both the Honeybee and I are homebodies, so we decided to cook up some steaks at home and rent a movie.

I sauteed us some fresh mushrooms and then cooked us up a couple of nice rib eyes (cooked rare, and lightly marinated beforehand in Italian dressing). Our steaks were accompanied by baked potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, chives and bacon bits.

Oh yeah, it was delicious.

Before I knew it the kitchen was cleaned up and it was movie time.

I popped us up some fresh hot popcorn and cracked open a frosty cold one. Meanwhile, the Honeybee poured herself a tall Jack and Diet Coke and grabbed the big bag of peanut M&Ms she thinks she keeps hidden from me in the cupboard (in the far corner, behind the bag of Lay’s Salt & Vinegar potato chips). Never mind that I prefer the plain ones.

At 8:30 p.m. we settled down to watch The Clash of the Titans starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and a bunch of other actors I never heard of.

The Honeybee popped the DVD in the player and the first trailer started up for some goofy movie about talking hoot owls called The Guardians of Ga’Hoole.

“Fast forward it, Honeybee,” I said raising my beer in the air for added emphasis. “I don’t feel like sitting through the movie previews tonight.”

Anyway, after a few seconds of her pointing the remote at the DVD player, it was apparent she was having no luck getting to the movie menu. In fact, that annoying little international red and white slash symbol for “Don’t Even Try It, Monsieur!” was mocking us, appearing in the upper right corner of the screen every time the Honeybee pushed the SKIP button. The same thing happened when she tried pressing MENU too.

Talk about threatening to ruin what had started out to be a great evening. For the next 16 minutes we were prisoners in our own home, forced to endure a seemingly never-ending parade of movie trailers, public service announcements and commercials. In our case, we were treated to the following theatrical flotsam and jetsam prior to the start of the movie:

8:30 p.m.: Movie trailer for The Guardians of Ga’Hoole. (Boring.)

8:32 p.m.: Movie trailer for Inception. (Okay, that one had me.)

8:34 p.m.: Movie trailer for Lottery Ticket. (Insufferable.)

8:36 p.m.: Commercial for a video game entitled The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. (Wasn’t paying attention; too busy tossing popcorn to the dog.)

8:37 p.m.: Movie trailer for The Losers. (If the trailer was indicative of the entire movie, the title doubles as a pithy review.)

8:39 p.m.: The original cheesy movie trailer for the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans with Laurence Olivier, Ursula Andress and Harry Hamlin. (Yes, that Harry Hamlin. Now on DVD!)

8:41 p.m.: Commercial for The Clash of the Titans video game. (Must. Drink. More. Beer.)

8:42 p.m.: Movie trailer for a cartoon called Batman: Under the Red Hood. (Really? Is there anything more ridiculous than a movie trailer for a cartoon?)

8:44 p.m.: A public service announcement for the American Film Institute. (No recollection of this on account of my slipping into a brief coma.)

Mercifully, sixteen bloody minutes after we first popped the DVD into the player, our movie was finally ready to start. But my frosty cold one was empty. And the dog and I had already finished most of the popcorn in the bowl.

This wasn’t the first time this happened. Lately, it’s been happening more frequently. It doesn’t matter whether the DVDs come from Blockbuster or Netflix either. Regardless, I was determined to figure out how to get around this unconscionable abuse of the movie-watching public. And so I did.

Later that week I did a quick search of the Internet and discovered a few simple tips for overriding those DVDs from hell. It turns out if you’re watching the DVD player from a computer — rather than a DVD player — you can simply press STOP, then PLAY.

However, if you’re like most people who use a DVD player, then you can try one of these two tricks:

1. As soon as the first preview comes on the screen, press the following sequence on your DVD remote: STOP, STOP, PLAY.

2. And if that doesn’t work, try pressing: STOP, STOP, STOP, PLAY.

The real question was: Would either of these tricks work?

Well, this past weekend we rented The Werewolf from Blockbuster. Sure enough, the DVD wouldn’t allow us to skip over the movie previews.

This time, however, we were ready. The Honeybee pressed STOP, STOP, PLAY and, voila!, the DVD sent us directly to the movie menu. Yes, it worked!

Just for grins, I then tried it on the FBI warning; it worked on that too!

Anyway, natural order has been restored in the Penzo living room and life is good again.

Best of all, the sixteen minutes of our lives we now save watching those boring trailers can be applied to activities that are a lot more fun. If you know what I mean.

Photo Credit: striatic

(This is an updated version of an article originally posted on August 18, 2010.)

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Great advice, I will definitely have to try that next time. It is annoying how they think they can get you to watch all these previews without any choice. Thanks for the tip, I plan on including this in a roundup article to spread the word!

  2. 3

    Richard says

    I don’t think Netflix and Blockbuster are the culprits here. It’s the movie industry. Disney DVDs are the worst offenders. I’m amazed (and bored at the same time) at the amount of marketing they cram into that captive fifteen minutes. Thanks for the advice Len! I’ll try it the next time I rent a DVD.

  3. 5

    Spedie says

    This is very helpful. When I have been forced to see these in the past, I try not to participate.

    This time, for me, is a nice time so sit on the throne, or clean the litterbox, take out the trash (need more room for coming beer cans) or give the kitties a treat, or something – I will not be a captive audience.

  4. 7

    says

    Great tip Len…i had no idea. Now can you tell me how I can skip the annoying commericals for Alice in Wonderland when watching TV shows through FIOS on demand?

    fyi- tried getting to this post through your recent tweet and it actually directed me to facebook.

  5. 8

    says

    Your posts always make me laugh! Thanks for the tip! Mr. BFS and I just pop in the movie while we’re cooking (not even turning the tv on) and then it’s ready to play when the food is ready. This method is way easier and requires less memory, so thanks!

  6. 11

    says

    @MoneyBeagle: Glad I could help.
    @Richard: In my research, I found others echoing your claim that Disney was among the worst – Dreamworks is supposedly also another major offender.
    @Spedie: Now you can do all those chores BEFORE you put the DVD in the player.
    @Jenna: I can only imagine. There oughta be a law!
    @Coach: LOL. Nope. I feel the same way watching all the lame David Letterman promos (with all his goofy facial expressions) CBS puts out on their sports telecasts.
    @Mrs BFS: Enjoy! Speaking of dinner, I need to go downstairs and cook mine…

  7. 13

    says

    Locked up DVDs like that are as bad as music CDs that won’t let you make mp3s for your mp3 player. In both cases, the are punishing those that are actually paying for the media.

    However, if you download from nefarious sites like Pirate Bay… not only is it free, but the ads are often stripped from DVDs (to better fit the movie on a single layer DVD-R) and the mp3s are usable wherever you like.

  8. 14

    says

    I had no idea that there was a secret formula to get past the FBI warning and previews. I am going to try that this weekend!!

    Thanks for sharing – I hate stupid previews.

  9. 15

    says

    Thanks Len,
    The other night we were watching a rented DVD which started skipping during the movie AFTER all the required trailers. What to do but eject it, clean it and start it again only to endure the trailers again. Now I have a secret code! STOP STOP PLAY I feel empowered!

  10. 16

    says

    I have another tip for getting around those sticky previews: go to the menu, select scene-select (or scenes), then select the first frame. It usually is the beginning of the film where they’re rolling the intro credits. This should work on both a DVD player and a computer. But I’m all for beer-drinking previews; at least it makes it more bearable!

  11. 17

    Sabrina says

    Len: I tried STOP STOP PLAY last night and it worked like a charm! Right to the menu! Thanks a million!!! :-)

  12. 18

    says

    @Kathy: I’m here to serve. ;-)
    @Tom: Not that you’re advocating the use of those nefarious sites – right, Tom? Tom? ;-)
    @Joe: DVDs that inadvertently skip or freeze up during the movie is a big problem with Netflix – at least the movies we get. We got a movie a while ago from them that became hopelessly unwatchable about ten minutes from the end of the movie. We cleaned it multiple times but it didn’t help – thank goodness it didn’t have the mandatory movie trailers too or that DVD would have been in multiple pieces when I returned it. Still, talk about being PO’d! I returned the movie with a choice hand-written note explaining that the DVD was unwatchable.
    @LittleHouse: But in our case, we couldn’t get to the menu screen until AFTER the previews ran their course! Pressing MENU just produced that dreaded slash symbol saying “sit back and watch, suckers!”
    @Sabrina: Awesome!

    • 20

      says

      I am one of those folks who LOVES nuts, but hates them in my candy. Well, unless it’s a Snickers. (I know. That makes absolutely ZERO sense.) I also don’t like nuts in my brownies or ice cream.

  13. 21

    says

    I’m with you Len…keep those peanuts out of my M&Ms.

    Those darned previews and FBI warnings are a pain in the neck. Can’t wait to try out your secret code.

    Betty

  14. 22

    John W. says

    I’m seeing this more and more. My wife just had the problem with 10 minutes of trailers on the new Sherlock Holmes movie from Netflix. When the Netflix DVD content that I rented will not play within a reasonable time (1 minute), I cut the disc in half and send it back as defective. When Netflix tries to charge me for destroying too many of their defective discs, that’s when I’ll walk away from their service.

    • 23

      Big_M says

      “I cut the disc in half and send it back as defective.”

      Well, that’s a stupid thing to do. What the hell is wrong with you?!?

  15. 25

    mitch says

    DVDs From Hell Part II
    Tonight I experienced the endless preview/ad for 25 minutes. The movie was a rental version of Hall Pass–not sure if other versions have the same problem. Anyway I try to get even rather than get mad. It was a Warner Bros product so I sent them the following:

    I’m writing to voice my SEVERE displeasure with your practice of uninterruptable preview/ad content on DVDs. I get a lot of DVDs to watch–we find broadcast and cable TV repetitive. We just attempted to watch “Hall Pass.” Unfortunately, by the time we suffered through about 25 minutes of previews, commercials, pitches for games, and just generally things we would have preferred to avoid, we just punched the eject button. We are willing to suffer through a little of “extra content” but 25 minutes steps WAY over the line. I would certainly like to have the opportunity to talk to the advertising EXPERT??? who thought this one up. I am SO displeased with this practice (WB isn’t the only abuser) that I am taking the following actions. First, I have identified my concern to Netflix since I pay them for my DVD service. They buy your product (a lot I presume) and may have more influence over your practices. Second, I am contacting you with my position that you are abusing your customer and hence endangering your livelihood. Third, I’ll either join or create a web blog service that identifies DVDs that perpetrate this form of abuse to help others avoid this frustration. Fourth, I will petition every organization to which I belong to add this service to their websites, community bulletin boards, and even direct emailing lists. Conservatively, I think I can reach 250,000 households. Finally, I will boycott WB products of all shapes, sizes, and origins–I don’t need you, you need me. To quote Howard Beale from Network (thankfully not a WB product), “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

    So right now I’m in the third step–find or make a place to enter DVDs that have this feature. If it begins to impact sales/rentals it could change their policy. So, anyone heard of a place online where this can be done? Anyone like the idea?

  16. 26

    Rick Holland says

    Great info–thanks! There should be disclaimers on all packages: “You will watch previews or whatever material we include, like it or not.” Otherwise we have a failure to disclose. Remember the young woman who started the campaign to fight unfair debit card fees? We need something like that here. But what form should it take? A petition to the greedy, overbearing studios? A rental boycott? It’s not the rental company’s fault, of course. I don’t know, but maybe Len could start something. These people are beneath contempt–Big Brother is watching or, in this case, making us watch what we don’t want to watch. Who wants to watch a favorite DVD five years from now, only to re-discover he or she must watch “previews” of old movies? OK Charton: “Damn them! Damn them all to hell!!!”

  17. 27

    Patrick says

    Thanks heaps for the tips. This problem drives me absolutely crazy. In my household we purchase all our movies (never downloaded one before in my life) but I’m seriously starting to think that some financial punishment is deserved. The next time I buy a dvd with unskippable garbage at the start I’ll make a note of the organisation responsible. If I then find I want to buy one of their movies again I’ll have to think seriously as to whether I just download it instead.

  18. 29

    David says

    Len,

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, a thousand times THANK YOU!!!!!!
    I was totally at my wits end with this nonsense and about seconds away from canceling my Netflix subscription before I found this. I was trying to watch Larry Crowne and 2 minutes into the 2nd unskippable preview, I had enough. You’re truly a life saver!!!

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