Hollywood films have not only got bigger, but they’ve also got longer too. Most movies are nowadays a lengthy experience, locking you in the cinema for at least two hours. You only need to look at the recent Oscars Best Picture nominations to see how over the years the best of the best blockbusters have racked up longer running time.
We’re not exactly complaining. It’s more of an observation. But why exactly? Let’s take a look at why this might be.
Audiences want more
Cinema ticket prices aren’t exactly cheap nowadays, and so cinema-goers are expecting to get their money’s worth. They want the full cinematic experience, and 90 minutes or less just doesn’t cut it anymore. The longer the film, the bigger the chance your audiences will be satisfied. Unless it’s more than 3 hours long, that’s just excessively silly. The two and a half hour point will be when it might start to take its toll on the sleepers, and no one wants to pay to fall asleep!
Big blockbuster filmmaking has got more expensive, and the capabilities of special effects continue to expand into spectacular realms we could never have imagined. This means filmmakers can do a whole lot more. With boundless potentials for what can be bought to screen, it’s no surprise that the bigger films tend to be longer. Greater power means you’re gonna get greater films. Directors just don’t know when to say cut anymore.
A lot of films are adaptations nowadays
A lot of the biggest grossing franchise films of the 21st have in fact been adaptations of literature – take Lord of the Rings, the DC comic greats, Harry Potter, Hunger Games for example. Audiences just can’t seem to get enough of the immersive worlds brought to life. This means these films simply can’t skimp on what does and does not make the cut. There’s so much in-depth detail in the pages of a book that the film versions tend to be just as drawn out.
Hollywood has had some incredible auteur directors over the years – Hitchcock, Scorsese, Tarantino. Their motive is to make art, and there are no limits to art. The more a director cares about crafting an authentic and extravagant movie, the less they are going to care about how long it’s going to last. Nothing and no one is going to stand in their way of it being just the way they visualize it, and this includes the running time.
Actors deserve the screen time
Our obsessions with actors and actresses has never been greater, and there’s nothing better than heading to the movies to watch your favorite star light up the screen. A lengthy film means they have a bigger chance to shine, with rich gradual character development being important nowadays. Plus, blockbuster films tend to have a rather large ensemble cast, and so a longer film is needed to fit all of the separate story arcs in to be tied together nicely at the end.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition, and the annual awards ceremonies are an excellent incentive for filmmakers to really pull out the stops. It’s a common notion that a film is more prestigious and respectable when it runs for longer, gaining more of a chance to win big. A lengthier film just feels as though more effort, thought, and energy has gone into making it perfect.
There’s no doubt movies are slowly but surely becoming longer and longer, but let’s be honest, a film with a bigger running time definitely does not mean it’s a better film. It just means it’s got a bigger chance of entertaining you.