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2 hour movies R.I.P

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What’s the last great two-hour movie you saw in theaters? If you’re having trouble answering that question, perhaps Joe Russo is right in proclaiming the 120-minute movie is an endangered film species. Speaking alongside brother Anthony Russoat Business Insider Ignition (via Deadline), Joe predicted the two-hour film is on its way out of Hollywood and the next generation of filmmakers won’t be limited to the long-dominant runtime.

“We are in a major moment of disruption,” Joe Russo said. “The two-hour film has had a great run for about 100 years but it’s become a very predictive format. It’s difficult, I think, to work in it. … It’s sort of like saying, ‘We all like sonnets, so let’s tell sonnets for 100 years, as many ways as we possibly can… I’m not sure that this next generation that is coming up is going to see two-hour narrative as the predominant form of storytelling for them.”


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I want to live in a world where all the Meg Ryan, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, and Sandra Bullock romantic comedies are part of a cinematic universe, and they all have to unite for the single biggest, quirkiest love frenzy New York and London have ever seen, in order to save the universe.

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Easy: Arrival. 1hr 56 minutes (according to Wikipedia). Entirely self contained with no need for sequels, prequels, offshoots, etc.





There are plenty of other "good" movies in that runtime too, and my sample as it is is biased since I have a preference for big sci-fi worlds that do often benefit from a series.

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1 hour ago, Captain Pickle said:

The last few movies I saw in theaters:


A quiet place 1:31

Halloween 1:44

Unsane 1:38 (well, this one isn't all that good but...)


Also, I didn't realize Arrival was so short.  Such a 'great' movie!


Genre movies are typically no longer than 100 minutes unless they are big budget blockbusters. Dramas are the ones that typically run longer... and epic movies based on novels. 

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2018 US Box Office:


Black Panther - 2 hours 20 min

Avenger Infinity War - 2 hours 36 min

Incredibles 2 - 1 hour 58 min

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - 1 hour 59 min

Deadpool 2 - 1 hour 59 min

Mission: Impossible - Fallout - 2 hours 27 min


Maybe he's right about the coming future of entertainment, but there is zero sign that the ~ 2 hour movie is going away or losing steam.


Sure, the MCU films have the advantage of having lots of extra films to built context and backstory and without that, Infinity War could never have worked. However, Infinity War is the exception, even in the MCU. It's not like Guardians required a lot of knowledge of the MCU to enjoy, and even Black Panther (the 18th MCU film) required no MCU knowledge to enjoy. You get a bit of extra context at the beginning, but really they tell you all you need to know.


I think the ~2 hour mark has stuck around not out of stubbornness, but because it's and effective time frame for story telling. You can push the length another hour, but beyond that you're really hitting the limit of how long people are willing to sit around. It's not a mistake that live theater shows are very often in the 90 min - 3 hour range, and that art form has been around quite a while.


I think the real innovation will happen around television. In TV we have lots of examples of episodes spanning from 20 min to nearly feature length. I think we'll see more shows that embrace that flexibility as streaming becomes increasingly dominant. Right now, even Netflix shows are often bound by traditional run times in order to air episodes on TV around the world, and many of their "originals" are made by or for other TV services. That will slowly change, but as long as theaters are around, I suspect the established run times to stick around.

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