Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Tired of long movies? Lengthy films create cinematic masterpieces

Kellyn Taylor
Illustration Kellyn Taylor

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice. 

I’m not a film buff, and I’ve never claimed to be a film buff. Still, I am frustrated with recent criticisms of “long” movies. Some of 2023’s highest-grossing blockbusters, as well as my personal favorites, were at least two and a half hours long, including “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

People often argue that two hours is the sweet spot for a good movie and that anything longer means it needs to be shortened. But as many Emerson students would agree, filmmaking is an art form, and cutting it down because you can’t sit through a long movie is disrespectful. We can’t ask movies to shorten for us—we have to either make time, or miss out. 

Out of the top ten highest-grossing blockbusters of all time, adjusted for inflation, seven are over two and a half hours. A few, like “Gone With the Wind” and “The Ten Commandments,” are nearly four hours long. Many of these are also regarded as some of the best films of all time. 

I understand the difficulty of sitting down for such a long period of time to watch a movie. I took both of my parents to see “Oppenheimer” last July, and they both walked out for a break at least twice. Though I thought it was a great movie, I still found my thoughts wandering a bit two hours in. On the other hand, there are lengthy films that I’ve seen countless times, like “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Batman.” I could not imagine these movies being nearly as good if their scenes were cut for a time-friendly appeal. 

The average runtime of the top twenty box office hits in 2002 was just under two hours. In 2022, that number went up by an average of 13 minutes per movie. However, this increase doesn’t justify cutting down movies for the sake of people’s attention spans. 

I visited Rome in 2023 and went to the Sistine Chapel, home of Michelangelo’s world-famous frescoes. The art spans the entire ceiling of the chapel, and I found myself sandwiched between tourists trying to sneak a photo and screaming Italian security guards, craning my neck to view the whole thing. 

It’s practically impossible to view the entire story in one glance, but every single panel tells exactly that—a story. If you started cutting out panels and frames to make it easier to see, it would no longer make sense. The same principle applies to books and movies. If you ripped thirty pages out of a novel or a film script to make it shorter, who knows what kind of meaning you’re removing from the story? 

With the rising popularity of streaming services, people can now enjoy movies from the comfort of their home television, laptop, or even phone. “Killers of the Flower Moon” dropped on Apple TV+ just three months after its debut in the cinema. Instead of having to block out a four-hour chunk of time to see a movie, viewers can watch films over multiple days if they do not have the time at once. 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” director Martin Scorcese defended the film’s three-and-a-half-hour run time in an interview with The Hindustan Times. In the interview, he said that “there are many people who watch theater for three and half hours. There are real actors on stage, you can’t get up and walk around. You give it that respect, give cinema some respect.” 

Additionally, theaters are becoming more expensive—AMC theaters are now introducing seat pricing based on where you’re seated in the theater. The average ticket price to go to the movies is currently close to $12. Amazon Prime subscriptions, which include expedited shipping on hundreds of products as well as Prime Video, cost $14.99 a month or $7.49 for students. For an additional $14.99 a month, users can add an HBO Max subscription, which features award-winning hits like “Barbie” and “Dune.” As movie run times slowly increase, a smaller pool craves the traditional theater-going experience. 

Theaters are upgrading their venues for a more luxurious experience as well, making movie-going a planned event instead of a whimsical decision. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which recently opened a location in Boston’s Seaport, provides table-side dining service during the movies. Alamo, along with many other theaters, are also renovating their seats to recline for further relaxation during the film. 

Filmmaking is an art, and that art should not be shortened for convenience’s sake. Instead of groaning about length runtimes, make time for the movies that you can see. When great films come along, either saddle in for the experience, or patiently wait for it to hit digital platforms.

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About the Contributor
Emma Siebold
Emma Siebold, Staff Writer
Emma Siebold (she/her) is a first-year journalism major/political communications minor from Spring Branch, Texas. She is also an associate producer for WEBN-TV and editorial assistant at Emerson Today. Outside of the newsroom, Emma enjoys training with the Dashing Whippets running team, listening to folk music, and obsessing over Marvel movies.

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