What is the “perfect” length of a movie?

According to a new poll of 2,000 Americans conducted by Talker Research, “the ideal average length” of a movie is just 92 minutes — just an hour and a half. It is not clear to me whether that number includes closing credits or not.

Their report finds that “the average person wants to spend far less time at the movie theater going forward.” Only two percent of the people they spoke to — according to my rudimentary math, that means roughly 40 folks — want movies to be longer than two and a half hours.

(Whoever you are out there, you 40 individuals, I love you. You are my people.)

The poll also found that only 15 percent of people want a movie that’s longer than two hours. And “in the past 60 days, the average respondent feels they’ve watched two movies that they felt were too long, with 23% having reluctantly sat through three or more.”

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Five movies listed in the poll as being the “perfect” length: DodgeballKung Fu PandaBeetlejuiceMonsters Inc., and Toy Story 2It may just be a coincidence, but I can’t help but notice two of those movies are getting sequels in 2024.

This seems like an ongoing theme; movies are always in a state of getting longer (or at least people think they are in a state of getting longer) while there is more and more television all the time, and people gladly binge huge chunks of it all at once, leading to a bizarre scenario where the same folks complaining movies are too long also gripe about shows being too short.

Theaters love shorter movies because they can have cram in more showtimes every day and sell more tickets and snacks. And apparently according to this poll audiences like shorter movies too. And yet longer movies tend to do very well at the box office. Oppenheimer was three hours long and made almost $1 billion worldwide. Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time, is 162 minutes. #2 on the all-time list is Avengers: Endgame, which is even longer — 181 minutes! That didn’t seem to pose a problem for any of those films.

If you ask me, the ideal length of a movie is exactly how long it needs to be to tell the story properly. For some movies, that’s 92 minutes. For some movies that’s 180 minutes. Speaking personally, if I’m paying $17 or more for a movie ticket, give me my money’s worth! Let me hang out here in this comfortable chair in the nice cool air conditioning for a while. As soon as the movie ends I have to do work, deal with the horrors of real life. I’ll take that oasis from my troubles for as long as I can have it.

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