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Awake In The Dark
What you're watching these days on the Big Screen and the Small Screen.


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Old November 14th, 2007, 02:10 PM   #1
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What's with how LONG movies are getting?

As techicians/artists who deal in video or film, we all know from personal experience how hard it can be to hold the viewer's attention in this ADD age. So why is it that movies seem to be getting longer?

I recently saw Knocked Up in the theater. I thought it was very funny, but a bit too long. Now I see that the DVD version is "unrated and unprotected", i.e extended! It's even longer! I've hesitated to suggest to my brother, who would very much appreciate the humor, that he watch the movie because I know he has a notoriously short attention span.

There have been several recent moves that I can think of just off the top of my head that have challenged the abilities of an audience to sit in a movie theater. King Kong and The Lord of the Rings are two that come to mind. Don't get me wrong, I loved both of those movies but my companions complained of their length.

Even more at issue for me are the comedies, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Talledega Nights and The Wedding Crashers all came out with extended DVD versions which, even though they might not have been classics to begin with, I still thought ruined the movies. "Brevity is the soul of wit," is a rule that current moviemakers don't seem to be heeding.

Any thoughts?


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Old November 14th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #2
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Just saw American Gangster, it was long but it was well done so I didn't really notice the time of the film. I think with comedies anything more than 90 minutes is probably pushing it. Then again Spiderman 3 was long and incredibly boring and stupid. Talk about "filler" That's the perfect example of a movie that didn't deserve to be that long.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 02:40 PM   #3
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Just saw American Gangster, it was long but it was well done so I didn't really notice the time of the film. I think with comedies anything more than 90 minutes is probably pushing it. Then again Spiderman 3 was long and incredibly boring and stupid. Talk about "filler" That's the perfect example of a movie that didn't deserve to be that long.
Yes! That's the other one I was trying to think of. I like the Spiderman franchise but did we really need THREE villains at once?? What were they thinking?
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Old November 14th, 2007, 02:45 PM   #4
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From the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/public/article...223065304.html

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The plague season coincides, more or less, with the flu season. Every fall and winter, as award ceremonies beckon, we are beset by films whose extended running times are supposed to signal seriousness and/or ambition. In recent years such allegedly prestigious releases have included "Little Children" (130 minutes), "Dreamgirls" (131 minutes), "Mystic River" (137 minutes), "Memoirs of a Geisha" (140 minutes), "Munich" (164 minutes) "The Good Shepherd" (167 minutes) and the definitive emblem of going ape on this count, "King Kong" (187 minutes). The current season has already brought "Lust, Caution" (157 minutes), and soon will bring -- not to prejudge the quality of these upcoming films, only to note their run times -- Ridley Scott's "American Gangster" (157 minutes) and Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood," which reportedly ran 158 minutes when it was recently sneak-previewed in Austin, Texas.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 02:50 PM   #5
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I think with comedies anything more than 90 minutes is probably pushing it.
I would generally agree, but then there's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" which clocked in at 192 minutes when it hit the theatres in 1963. I really enjoyed that, but might have a hard time sitting through the whole thing today.... http://imdb.com/title/tt0057193/
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Old November 14th, 2007, 03:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff View Post
I would generally agree, but then there's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" which clocked in at 192 minutes when it hit the theatres in 1963. I really enjoyed that, but might have a hard time sitting through the whole thing today.... http://imdb.com/title/tt0057193/
Boyd,

That indeed was a great movie, but also loaded with many many funny people! Maybe that is part of it, more people and less time with each one. You don't have to expect them to go 2 hours on their own. You don't get tired of any one person. And, they don't run out of funny lines.

It's funny, and probably no coincidence, that the short movies are the ones you don't want to ever end and the long ones you just can't wait until they end.

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Old November 14th, 2007, 04:16 PM   #7
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When I first started going to the movies in the late 50s and early 60s it seems that two hours or so was a common length .. with exceptions like Dr Zivagho, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia etc

As the 60s progressed movies began to get shorter, coming in around the 90 minute mark with blockbusters excluded. I always thought this was to compete with the shorter lengths of TV programming

Now two hours or more seems more common. I'm not sure why that is .. maybe to be different from TV or to give people the impression they are getting their money's worth.

You can never really judge a movie by its length. The first two LOTR movies seemed too short when I saw them in the theatre ... the new Casino Royale seemed a little long but it was more like it had one ending too long .. like the third LOTR.

While watching Zodiac I thought it was going on too long but after a while got back into the movie .. maybe because it was almost like two stories; the search for the killer then the affects of that search on the other characters.

I guess it all comes down to pacing. I've seen 90 minute movies that seemed way too long.

This whole DVD extended cut thing is, to me, just a marketing ploy, definitely fitting into the "more bang for your buck" category. I'm not a big fan of frat boy humour so having more of Talledaga Nights seems ludicrous .. but if you dug the movie, maybe that would be a selling point for you.

Hey, I liked George Clooney's Solaris and it put most of my friends to sleep.

I feel the increased length of movies comes down to two factors:

Marketing (bang for your buck)

Auteurisim (those films directed by guys like Peter Jackson who, for the moment, can write their own ticket)
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Old November 14th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #8
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You know, I'm actually a big fan of the long movies - if the length is justified (Lord of the Rings, The Departed).


I think this is mostly because people have less disposable income, so they look at the $5 DVD rental price or the $10 theater price and go - well, it's expensive, but I'm getting 3 hours worth of entertainment, rather than 90 minutes worth. That's one of the reasons that Bollywood movies are structured like they are - 3 hours worth, a little music, a little action, a little comedy, a little drama, a little romance - the entire selling point of Bollywood is: "We know you don't have a lot of money so we'll give you a little of everything, and we'll give you a lot of it."
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Old November 14th, 2007, 05:56 PM   #9
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20 years ago the standard movie length in Russia was 1:30 to 1:40. Foreign movies that were longer were edited for length, sometimes they were cut into two parts and there was a break in the middle just like in a theater (real theater, not a movie theater). Long Russian movies like Solaris also had a break in the middle.

When glasnost and perestroyka happened and the communism fell, some prominent film directors explained to the public that foreign movies were cut not because of their length but because of -- gasp! -- questionable content, unsuitable for a communist country. Bollocks. for example, I saw both original and edited versions of "Some like it hot" and I must say that the edited version looked better, livelier, more energetic, more up to the spirit of the movie.

I like movies that can deliver the message in relatively short time. When I watch the first "Taxi" movie (the original French one, not the horrible remake with Queen Latifah), I was surprised -- in a good way -- when it ended so quickly, the movie lasted only 1:26. It was just enough, it ended on a high note and did not get me bored.

I did not watch LOTR when it was released, I watched it about two years later because my girlfriend loved it, and I could not see what the fuss was about. Long, boring, meaningless, only remotely related to the original book. Okay, the scenery is stunning, but I'd rather watch Planet Earth instead.

Presently I am watching the 12-episode series "From the Earth to the Moon" produced by Tom Hanks, and it has stroke me that this is the right format, each episode is about an hour long. Same goes to the 4-episode "Space Race" series by BBC, each episode is one hour long too. The Top Gear show that I enjoy immensely, is also aired in one-hour chunks.

I might have interest in abridged DVD releases of long boring movies with useless junk thrown out, say 1:30 tops. I guess I should pitch this idea to movie studios.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 09:56 PM   #10
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I did not watch LOTR when it was released, I watched it about two years later because my girlfriend loved it, and I could not see what the fuss was about. Long, boring, meaningless, only remotely related to the original book.
I agree with most of what you are saying but I have to disagree with you on one point. The LOTR movies are like Cliff's Notes compared to the LOTR books! You want to talk about long and boring? Trying re-reading those books sometime. Although Peter Jackson takes many liberties, I think he did as good a job as anyone could in making that story palatable for the cinema.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 09:37 AM   #11
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I think the real problem is that everybody's attention span is getting shorter. I guess it has to do with TV, e-mail, cell phones and the generally increasing pace of everything in society. I notice that I have less patience for sitting through something long myself these days.

This is something which concerns me a lot since my "real job" is in Opera where 3 hours is generally considered "short." Contractually, we start paying our crews overtime after 3 hours, and get into some substantial overtime with the chorus and orchestra at 3.5 hours. In the past year we've had to struggle to stay under that 3.5 hour limit with a few shows. And of course Wagner's operas are 4+ hours (really too long for me ;-) Last night we opened a production of "Hansel and Gretel" which is a real novelty for us... it's one of the shorter operas, clocking in at slightly over 2 hours.

But it worries me as I see our audience shrink these days, and I get the feeling that people just aren't willing to invest 3 or more hours of their time sitting in a theatre today. And it's tough with opera, because our core audience considers the music "sacred" and would not be pleased if we did wholesale cutting.

I think this relates to films since many of the longer ones aspire to epic proportions just like opera. And in the 19th century opera was equivalent to the movies since it was the most extravagent form of public entertainment. But things are changing... I recently watched Laurence of Arabia again. It's really long, but certainly worth it. And just like an opera, it has an overture, and intermission, and entr'acte music. It was no doubt intended to be seen in an opulent "movie palace" which is a more operatic setting. But I guess those days are gone forever...
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Old November 15th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #12
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you could divide your ticket value by the # of minutes of the movie. so $12 ticket/120min=$.1/minute vs. $12 ticket/180min=.067.

i guess the longer the movie is, the more worthwhile it is? lol. just kiddin =)
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