Recently the subject of the duration of films being released has been floating around the film blogosphere. I decided to do a bit of research on the topic of film length. Some researchers actually had complied a list of the top fifty films of each year since the 1910’s via IMDB. Their research indicates that average film length has remained fairly consistent at about 127 minutes since the 1960’s. Check out this handy dandy chart below to get an idea of what i am talking about.
Similarly highly popular films such as Titanic and LOTR The Return of the King run much longer than average length and people still enjoy them immensely. What reason could there be for all the complaining about film length? We recently watched The Hobbit 169 minutes and Django Unchained 165 minutes and the length of those films did not bother me in the least. I have several hypothesis regarding the complaints about film length.
1.) Short attention spans: Folks are so use to multitasking and being attached to electronic devices that the idea of just watching a film for 2 hours overwhelms them. Even when I set my iPhone to vibrate it seems like it goes off every ten minutes when I am watching a film. I am going to try and shut it off completely to cut down on distractions.
2.) The ending credits: It seems like the credits go on forever. As films get more complex the list of people involved in the making of films grows and grows. Yes IMDB counts the ending credits toward its calculation of film length. That is not even taking into consideration the popular after credits extra scene that is included with some films.
3.) Giant tubs of popcorn and liters of cola: How any human could consume a bucket of soda and not have to use the bathroom for two hours is beyond me. As the sizes of drinks and food increases so does the complaining about film length.
4.) The lack of an intermission. The last main stream film to have an intermission was Gandhi in 1982. Studios in an effort to cram in an extra screening a day have done away with what was once commonplace in longer films. Why not have a ten or fifteen minute intermission so people could use the bathroom stretch their legs or purchase another gallon of iced tea and a seven dollar bag of skittles?
5.) Bad movies: While I don’t mind sitting through a long film that I am enjoying, long films that are terrible drive me to distraction. I had a hard time sitting through 146 minutes of War Horse and and equally hard time sitting through Hugo which was actually an average length film. Its often not so much the length of the film as it is your opinion of the film.
Whats your take on film length? Are films nowadays too long or have we just become unacostemed to sitting quietly in the dark for 127 minutes? Or perhaps you have another idea about the subject that I missed completely .
I got the chart for this article from http://www.slashfilm.com/by-the-numbers-the-length-of-feature-films/