Pop Rocks: Why Are Movies So Damn Long?

Categories: Pop Rocks

wolfofwallstreet.jpg
The Wolf of Wall Street
Cheers! This movie is three freakin' hours long!
I consider myself a movie buff. I love films; I was spawned from two cinephiles, I studied it in school, and I think it's one of the most interesting art forms. But lately, I can't make myself see a movie and it's not because of all of the television that I've been consuming (which is a lot). It's because movies are too damn long!

Flashback: What's So Bad About Binge Watching TV?

Take the upcoming Martin Scorsese December release, The Wolf of Wall Street. I cannot even describe how excited I have been in anticipation of this flick. Scorsese is my favorite director, the trailers look fantastic and nothing makes for a more disgusting take on society than greed and corruption. This morning, however, I found out how long the movie is going to be and I nearly flipped: 165 minutes. For those of you who don't know math, that's two hours and 45 minutes. Add in the previews and you have just spent three hours of your life sitting in a dark movie theater.

A three-hour movie is not uncommon at all these days; in fact, it's rare to find a movie that isn't "roughly" three hours long. I don't know how you feel, but I think that three hours is a really long time. Do you know what else you can do in three hours: clean your whole house, drive to Austin, read the entire 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, cook a small turkey, run a marathon (if you are really fast), get a colonoscopy or watch three episodes of Sons of Anarchy with enough time to fry a burger in the middle.

If overly-long movies were necessary, I would jump on board, but the fact of the matter is that critics and viewers tend to agree that these lengthy works could usually afford to be trimmed. Blockbusters are traditionally the culprits and this is newish trend. According to a Business Insider article on the subject, in 2002 the average film length was 118 minutes and in 2012 that number jumped to 130.5!

Some of this added time may be blamed on Hollywood's need for long-ass blockbusters and the misconceived notion that they translate into Oscar wins. Last holiday season's big money/big award movies, Les Misérables, Django Unchained, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, totaled almost nine hours in film time. That's enough time to give birth to a baby!

The funny thing is that this was not always the case, and big earners didn't used to be so excruciatingly long. As the article states, in 1992, the highest grossing film was Aladdin and it clocked in at a short and sweet 90 minutes. Even1992's Batman Returns was only a little over two hours. Comparatively, 2012's The Dark Knight Rises tortured with 165 minutes of film! And so much of that could have ended up on the editing floor.

It's a curious trend and one that doesn't seem to fit well with every other time-saving progression of today's society. We can't even be bothered to read a news article that's longer than 140 characters, but we are expected to sit on our fat butts for three whole hours? If I had any theories on this they would have something to do with Hollywood trying to differentiate itself from the rising star that is the small screen. "You want to steal our best actors and have excellent character development and plots, fine. We'll make our movies really, really, ridiculously long and people will equate this to quality."

The only thing I equate long movies with is all the other things I can be doing instead. Let's cut this out Hollywood, literally.


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1 comments
Jeff Hunter
Jeff Hunter

If Scorcese wants to make a five-hour film, I am fine with this. He will do it right, not for an Oscar but for the sake of the story. I agree though, not many film makers are as well-equipped as Scorcese. I have seen many films of late where I have said the same thing as you are saying in this article. But I have also wished for longer movies, long enough to require an intermission. This will require skill that I do not think movie studios are willing to bank on. In this age of high-turnover needed for theaters to stay alive, and cgi-crammed action, we need some good story-tellers. That will get people to the theater; plus television is poison.

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