Gone with the Wind clocks in at a bladder-busting three hours and 58 minutes. Dances with Wolves is just two minutes shy of that. Kenneth Branagh‘s 1996 version of Hamlet is, alas poor Yorick, four hours and two minutes. And the 1987 appropriately named visual tone poem The Cure for Insomnia is a mind-bending 87 hours.
The point here being that some movies are more of a time commitment than others. Leading up to last week’s release of Avengers: Endgame there was an onslaught of insipid Internet thinkpieces about when the best time to go to the bathroom during the latest Marvel masterpiece was, as if the movie is so incredibly long that you’d absolutely need to take nature’s call at some point while watching it. But this hysteria about the film’s three hour, two-minute runtime was especially ridiculous since we live in an era when bloated blockbusters are commonplace.
It used to be that motion pictures studios would want to keep their biggest releases on the short side in order to have more screenings per day and in turn rake in more money. But Disney realizes that films like their Marvel and Star Wars offerings are game changers that force theaters to adjust to their running times — which is why a huge number of movie palaces are scrambling to add screenings to keep up with the demand for Endgame tickets right now. Besides, it’s not like the length is hurting the film’s box office, what with it bringing in over a billion dollars in its first weekend alone. (Another fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, also faced similar complaints about its length and still managed to rake in a jaw-dropping amount of cash AND win the Academy Award for Best Picture).
All of this begs the question: How do you feel about movie lengths these days? Are the run times of films simply too much? Is less more? Alternatively, how are filmmakers supposed to tell tales as epic in scope as the Avengers movies are in shorter time frames? Share your thoughts on this subject below. I can’t wait to hear what you think because personally, when it comes to a great movie, there’s no such thing as too long of a run time!