Friday, March 31, 2023

Why are movies so long now?

A quick look at the audiovisual ecosystem would be enough for us to realize that its content is increasingly numerous, fast and above all, concise.

Our attention is constantly challenged by a constant stream of tweets, Answer, Tiktok video etc. In the face of this saturation—not to say hypertrophy—of audiovisual space, some authors point to the risk that our ability to pay attention is compromised, diminished. Such is the case with Nicholas Carr and his already classic superficial. What is the Internet doing to our brains?,

In light of this circumstance, it can be assumed that the design of audiovisual material, such as a film or series, will tend to reduce its duration – as happens, for example, Self Defense (Prito, Barenis & Blanca, 2022), whose episodes do not exceed 15 minutes in length.

But the truth is that the duration of films does not increase at all.

minutes please and minutes

The increase in screen minutes is noticeable in movies that hit the theaters. in this case Avatar: Spirit of Water (James Cameron, 2022), with a running time of 192 minutes, released recently babylon (Damien Chazelle, 2022), 188 minutes or so avengers: endgame (Anthony and Joe Russo, 2019) and its 181 min.

But you can also see this trend in movies that are primarily designed to be consumed by streaming platforms. streaming -As Irish (Martin Scorsese, 2019), with 209 minutes of footage, and Bardo (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2022) and its 159 minutes—or those aimed at more minority circuits traditionally associated with independent or autistic cinema. In this sense we can refer to peace (2022), a work by Albert Serra that runs for over 166 minutes.

Then what could be the reason for this increase in the duration of films?

First of all, it should be noted that there have always been films with an above average length. Let’s take, for example, classics such as gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, George Cukor and Sam Wood, 1939), with a running time of 238 minutes, and ben-how (William Wyler, 1959) and its 211 minutes, to give just a few famous examples.

The question that this article tries to discuss is the reason for the increase in duration of films in an era in which everything – serials, wars between platforms streamingThe loss of attention span and the endless supply that encourages quick consumption – indicate that the trend should be in the opposite direction.

for a variety of reasons

The initial hypothesis is that the reason serves three purposes: on the one hand, a desire to broaden narratives, and on the other, a need to differentiate itself from (or through) the televised narrative. streaming) and, finally, an attempt to justify the rising price of cinema tickets.

This problem, however, is not an absolute innovation, but emphasizes features already present in the film industry since the Hollywood of the 50s. Already at that time, the need to distance itself from the television offer prompted the studio to work longer hours. More stars, with more impact, more spectacle. what happens today with some of these kind of productions incarnation Oh the one that’s from Marvel.

In previous decades, cinemas had chosen the model of double seasons, inherited from the past, or of three consecutive screenings. This was one reason why the average length of a film was 90 or 100 minutes long.

Ironic Enthusiast Productions Filmwhose duration was a few minutes longer than the average – eg Alien: The Eighth Passenger (Ridley Scott, 1979; 116 minutes), return to the future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985; 116 minutes), the ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984; 107 minutes) and los guinees (Richard Donner, 1985; 114 minutes), to mention just a few examples that are certainly still very present in readers’ memory—the exception became the norm and ended up setting the new course for the industry. .

On the other hand, the attempt to expand the narrative (which, paradoxically, can be seen as a “series-like attempt”) introduces different nuances, without really creating anything entirely new. .

Robert McKee, in his work Script, indicates the existence of works with more acts than the traditional three. quote in this sense Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell, 1994), with five acts; in search of the lost ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981), are with you, or the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover (Peter Greenway, 1989), Con ocho.

exception today

However, as already mentioned, what was sort of an exception in the past is starting to become the norm.

Which leads us to the following conclusion: Cinema currently faces a number of problems. These include changes in audience consumption habits—including a reduction in theater attendance—, the predominance of series (more in line with the idea of ​​domestic and dynamic consumption), more audiovisual offers and the price of tickets for the room—of Similar to the cost of a monthly subscription to either platform streaming,

For all the reasons stated in the text, the film industry, especially those oriented to be screened in cinemas, has focused on its resolution. Thus, it has promoted films with bigger budgets and durations, with more subplots and more spectacular performances. All these features justify the price of entry and offer a disincentive against subscribing to a platform streaming or other broadcast channels.

in case of multiple presentations indiesLonger duration will satisfy a desire to explore new narratives, further removed from television discourse, or both Mainstream Like big productions.

Be that as it may, and when we confirm the drift of the region, it may be advisable to order the popcorn in XL format, if we do not want it to end before the light comes on in the room.

This article is included in the investigation carried out by the IDECOA research group of the University of Murcia.

Gabry Rodenas, Professor of Audiovisual Communication, University of Murcia

Nation World News Desk
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