More than ever before, audiences are concerned about movie length.
During the COVID pandemic, binging TV shows was all the norm. People spent hours in front of the TV without a second thought. But as we slowly come out of the pandemic, and movie theaters try to get back on track, they're dealing with a new audience trend that's making it hard to program films.
According to a new survey by Screen Engine/ASI done exclusively for the Los Angeles Times, more than half of moviegoers check the runtime before deciding to buy a ticket to a movie.
Movies like House of Gucci, West Side Story, Dune, Eternals, and King Richard all clock in over two hours, with most of them close to three hours long. That means an extended time in theaters near people as the pandemic continues.
While we try to bolster the box office, it's disheartening to see people turning away. Also, it's hard to know people will binge a series in one day, but it's hard to get them to sit for a longer movie.
The L.A. Times is reporting, "In a poll of 2,055 moviegoers in the U.S., a plurality of respondents (36%) said they often sought out a film’s runtime before deciding to see it, while 16% said they always did, according to the polling. Comparatively, 32% indicated they rarely sought out runtimes. Sixteen percent said they never did."
Looking at runtimes can be explained by lots of varying factors, like needing babysitters, having other errands, and the COVID of it all.
But as you look at the demographics, it's easy to pull out that younger generations, used to TikToks and short-form content on the internet, are way more conscious of how long a movie will be, with 55% of people under 35 saying they consult runtime before choosing what to see.
And it's not just checking runtimes—they're also affecting what people buy a ticket to watch. At least 44% said runtime had less of an effect than wanting to see the movie, but 38% said they would be hesitant to see a movie longer than 120 minutes, and a total of 57% expressed a similar feeling about movies running longer than 150 minutes.
Studio executives around town are in the business of finding movies they think will continue to be profitable on the big screen. But that's hard when people are picking things based on runtime. While it seems like quality and desire matter more, this could lead to a lot of cutting and editing that might not make movies better.
Many of the longer movies we see now were greenlit before COVID happened. That means studios were not aware this trend may happen. I mean, look at the top three grossing movies of all time—Avengers: Endgame, Titanic, and Avatar. The shortest one is almost three hours. So this is a new trend we're seeing.
Again, it might be pandemic-related. Audiences usually are excited to be a part of an epic in theaters. Time is going to tell us everything, but this trend is very worrying for the here and now.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
December 16, 2021 at 6:41AM, Edited December 16, 6:41AM