When cinema first became a medium, films were very short. Back then, when Nickelodeons were becoming an event or a spectacle for audiences, places where people across all social classes could go, films shown in this type of theater were shorter than what would be expected today from a feature film. Recently, starting in 2022, American cinema has noticed a shift in the type of movies being consumed. While the average movie may be a little or under two hours, some of the biggest movies of the year have been over two and a half hours, prompting some to ask this question: Should we have intermissions if a movie is three hours long?
Other forms of national cinemas, especially in Bollywood and Chinese cinema, have been consuming these types of feature films for decades now. American movies have been longer than that, but the trend these days seems to be towards having more time to tell the story on screen in all its glory. However, this can be a boon for the film industry. Not only are these types of movies expensive to make, blocking filmmakers without significant support from studios, but they also have to be done right, or getting the final arcs can be a drag. Let’s dive into why this happens.
3 hour movies
In 2022 and 2023, many big films were scoring what seemed unfathomable before. Damien Chazelle Babylon, which was released at the end of December 2022, can be seen as a turning point in this latest trend. Chazelle BabylonDespite mixed reviews on the subject, it clocked in at three hours and nine minutes, and had moviegoers and fans alike complaining about how the plot seemed all over the place and that the movie couldn’t go on for long. While it may seem so Babylon It was an anomaly that appeared every two years, and it was not the beginning. movies like irish It was also more than three hours.
Then he came Avatar: Water Roadthat saw similar complaints. Super Christopher Nolan movie Oppenheimer, which will be released in July 2023, will also join that exclusive club, with a reported running time of three hours and nine seconds. until John Wick: Chapter 4 It’s nearly three hours long, with a running time of two hours and 49 minutes. For audiences acclimated to TikTok and short content since the pandemic years and the idea that audiences are getting worse as they use phones and directors, it becomes surprising that people would theoretically want to sit down and watch these kinds of movies.
This is not a new invention – even a beloved classic Titanic The clocks in at three hours and 15 minutes. Still, the movie must have been well designed to completely pull off such a long run, and keep audiences on the edge of their seat. Otherwise, it fails to captivate and instead becomes a chore or obligation to finally get through to the end.
Boring deep dives sometimes
Bollywood films are particularly long, as their stories dive into many different subplots, themes, and dance numbers throughout. If there’s something to note about the Bollywood model, it’s that these types of films manage to keep audiences cheering and booing their favorite – and least favorite – characters as they progress through their physical and emotional journeys. There is a certain kind of magic that comes with feature films that allow the audience to truly become one with the characters on screen, but that is if the script and direction are done right.
When it comes to longer films like BabylonThey tend to divide audiences because of the film’s depth. Babel becomes the perfect example of polarizing length because it tries to do so much in its three hours. It shifts between a historical film, a romance, and eventually, a crime drama of sorts. Since it never finds its true niche in one genre and progresses through it in a way that doesn’t feel smooth at times, it ends up creating a hole that audiences can fall very quickly if they don’t feel particularly capable or smart that day.
Longer films can be a great time to show off excellent writing and characterization. However, it can also be a means of saving resources, support and distribution. When theaters across the country are stuck playing fewer movies because a three-hour movie continually takes up more screens, it usually shuts out independent filmmakers, BIPOC, and international filmmakers who might have needed that show more than a Marvel movie. At the same time, if more resources are pooled into a longer and more widespread film, it also denies the same opportunities to those who are not given the spotlight.