Movies are too fucking long these days imho

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Okay, so I plotted the average length of the top ten box office films for each year. I know more data points would have been nicer, but I've only got so much free time.

I like examining unexamined assumptions ("films are longer these days") - turns out this one might be true!

전승 Complete Victory (in Battle) (NotEnough), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 14:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

even more amazing is just *how* short they were 10 years ago. 107 minutes!

piscesx, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

Excellent work. "I like examining unexamined assumptions"--for the folks on ILB, let me say that Bill James couldn't have said it better himself.

We need a data-analysis expert here. Your graph is persuasive, but a couple of red flags I'd raise: 1) is 10 films a year enough to start drawing conclusions (especially 10 that aren't random--maybe hits are longer by nature), and 2) maybe 2004-2009 is a blip; if you eliminate the last five years, you could say the length didn't increase at all from 1979-2004.

I don't know. I play a grade 6 math teacher in real life, but this one's above my pay grade.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

that graph is dominated by statistical noise

caek, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

i dont mind long movies - if the movie is too long for itself thats another thing - like transformers 2 prob just shouldve been a commercial or whatever

ice cr?m, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

xpost -- We could retitle it 'supernovae are brighter these days'

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

skewing results: 12-minute end credits for horseshit effects-laden stuff

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

no good comes of any thread where "meme" surfaces

― kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, June 16, 2010 6:24 PM (6 months ago) Bookmark

once more Jagger faps the hivemind (symsymsym), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

The end-credits is a good point--wouldn't be surprised if they account for most of the seven-minute difference between '79 and '09. I'm often hanging around right till the end of the credits to get the name of some song that caught my ear, and they go on forever. It doesn't even have to be a film with lots of special effects, very few of which I see--it applies to all films.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

I have no idea what if anything I have learnt from this chart, but really I just wanted to see if I could web-scrape the data off IMDB, which I could, with 3 lines of Perl

(data is in a Google Docs spreadsheet here; some years have <50 rows of data because some movies didn't have a length showing up; data scraped from e.g. http://www.imdb.com/search/title?year=2010%2C2010&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter%2Casc which uses imdb's own questionable "MovieMeter" ranking but the box office data gets pretty shaky the further back you go so eh)

bauble metropolis (a passing spacecadet), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 16:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

looks about right to me. my guess is the average length hasn't changed that much, but there are currently (like in the last 5 years) a lot more 2.5 hour+ trashy movies.

caek, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 16:41 (3 years ago) Permalink

So if that is about right then I dunno if it's more true to say that the 00s and the 60s had a lot of really long films or that the 70s and 80s had a lot of short films.

Anyway, I have a short attention span and grew up with 80s films, so if the plunge downwards right at the end means the trend is turning round again then I'm all for it.

(I don't trust the data here a whole bunch btw)

bauble metropolis (a passing spacecadet), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 16:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

that imdb moviemeter thing is sketchy, but i'd be surprised if the top 50 were a particularly biased sample of successful mainstream movies. i can totally buy that there isn't a gross trend in running length. imo this thread inspired by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias although i agree that there are probably more really dumb long movies than there used to be.

i wouldn't trust any results based on a year that hasn't finished though, especially with award season to come, which will boost (usu. longer) oscar-type movies into the top 50.

caek, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 16:56 (3 years ago) Permalink

the issue here, comparing the 1950s with the present, is b-movies, i.e. second features. they were shorter than the main feature because duh. but now we don't have b-movies so.

moholy-nagl (history mayne), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 16:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

Would all those musical-overture segments (which I assume were included in running times) from the big prestige roadshow films from the '60s make a difference? Not sure if there were enough of them to matter, but they seemed to run two or three minutes.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

Of course, those films were already three or four hours long, so probably not.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

well we're in difficult territory with that. there is a question of whether you would have had to endure them when the film got rolled out into regular cinemas. i genuinely dk. but those films were relatively rare -- this is about whether your average programmer is longer now.

moholy-nagl (history mayne), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

data doesn't matter. NO comedy/thriller/romance type movie that isn't some kind of visually stunning epic or intensely contemplative and/or suspenseful masterwork should EVER be over 120 minutes, and preferably not over 100 minutes. Whether there are more films like this than there used to be, all of them are too long.

I can take a youtube that's seldom seen, flip it, now it's a meme (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

otm

moholy-nagl (history mayne), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

I bet that 90% of the films that check in at 150 minutes+ aspire to one or more of those things; how many actually achieve it, obviously many fewer.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

This is actually a significant factor in my cinema going now. I refused to see Avatar because of the length. I always ask how long something is before agreeing to go unless it's a new Coen Bros or something on that level.

I can take a youtube that's seldom seen, flip it, now it's a meme (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

A four-hour Pauly Shore film? I'm guessing that's a pass for you.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

# of very long movies (over 130 minutes), by decade:

1950s — 58
1960s — 121
1970s — 72
1980s — 55
1990s — 97
2000s — 112

# of very short movies (under 86 minutes), by decade:

1950s — 84
1960s — 48
1970s — 38
1980s — 26
1990s — 35
2000s — 13

(wanted to do a medium-length one for comparison purposes, but couldn't decide what range to use — there actually seem to be two separate frequency peaks within "medium-length", one in the mid-90s, another in the low 110s)

Egyptian Raps Crew (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

(all drawn from spacecadet's google spreadsheet data, in case that wasn't clear)

Egyptian Raps Crew (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

data doesn't matter. NO comedy/thriller/romance type movie that isn't some kind of visually stunning epic or intensely contemplative and/or suspenseful masterwork should EVER be over 120 minutes, and preferably not over 100 minutes. Whether there are more films like this than there used to be, all of them are too long.

― I can take a youtube that's seldom seen, flip it, now it's a meme (Hurting 2), Wednesday, December 29, 2010 5:13 PM (17 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

I bet that 90% of the films that check in at 150 minutes+ aspire to one or more of those things; how many actually achieve it, obviously many fewer.

― clemenza, Wednesday, December 29, 2010 5:18 PM (12 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

i think the premise of this thread is that that's not true. 2.5 hour action movies and 2+ hour comedies that obviously don't aspire to much are not huge outliers any more.

caek, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

I upped it to 150 minutes before making that statement--I see few action films, unless it's something like Inception or The Dark Knight, both of which obviously have artistic aspirations, whether you think they get there or not. But you might be right, I honestly don't know.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

More action films without artistic aspirations plz

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

On the basis of those two, I'd agree. I'd still prefer the aspirations, though, in hopes of lucking onto something like the second Spiderman or Batman films, both of which I liked a lot.

clemenza, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 17:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hurting rlly consistently a foole this week

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 29 December 2010 19:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

don't wanna get dragged into that people-showing-up-at-random-during-the-middle-of-films-at-the-cinema-in-the-olden-days argument again but check this out

piscesx, Saturday, 21 April 2012 13:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

it was a well known gimmick of Hitch's, don't think i've seen that poster before tho

aboulia banks (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 21 April 2012 13:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

IIRC that gimmick was used with Psycho only, because it was advertised as a Janet Leigh movie, and Hitchcock was afraid that people turning in late might miss her part of the movie.

Tuomas, Monday, 23 April 2012 11:57 (1 year ago) Permalink

7 months pass...

it's amazing how they made the bold creative decision to make it into three movies. really makes me excited for the results.

Heterocyclic ring ring (LocalGarda), Thursday, 13 December 2012 11:53 (1 year ago) Permalink

169 minutes! holy Christ.

piscesx, Thursday, 13 December 2012 11:54 (1 year ago) Permalink

All too many other potentially great movies, from Titanic to Out of Africa

stopped reading here

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 13 December 2012 11:59 (1 year ago) Permalink

haha

piscesx, Thursday, 13 December 2012 13:01 (1 year ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

This IS 40; 133 minutes for a comedy.

piscesx, Saturday, 16 February 2013 16:37 (1 year ago) Permalink


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