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Terror in the Aisles

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Though much of the world may be weighed down by more pressing thoughts, Greg Scott and Miriam Fisch of Illinois are focusing on the fact that movies are starting late because of ads. They're having attorney Mark Feinberg file separate class-action lawsuits against Tivoli Enterprises and Loews Cineplex Entertainment, respectively, that charge that showing ads before films is tantamount to fraud. Scott is asking the court to stop the practice of delaying films "in order to deluge captive audiences with unannounced and unwanted advertisements, a practice commonly referred to as Ocommercial creep.' "

Scott's suit states that his 3:35 p.m. showing of The Pianist was delayed until 3:39 p.m. "Is Classic Cinemas" - owned by Tivoli - "delaying features to generate revenue at the expense of consumers?" the suit asks. The suit is not challenging previews, which "historically have been part of the moviegoing experience."

Mark Mazrimas, marketing manager for Tivoli Enterprises, said last Thursday that he could not comment on the suit as he had not yet been served papers. But he said Tivoli began running cinema ads only a few years ago, long after it became common to do so. "It helps keep us in business," he says. "I think most people would rather see the lights on in the marquee and sit through three minutes of commercials than see it go dark." No one is forced to watch the ads, he says. In fact, he points out, "if we advertised a film for 7 o'clock and the film hit the screen at 7 o'clock, we'd be dealing with a lot more complaints, I think."