It’s going to be epic: film fans set for numb bums as running times go up

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Blockbuster Christmas releases clock in at 140 minutes and more

Cinemagoers heading to their local multiplex this Christmas won’t be able to complain about being short-changed: some of the biggest films of the season are almost three hours long.

Analysis by The Independent has shown the current crop of blockbusters set to hit cinemas have average running times of over two and a half hours with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Les Miserables leading the charge.

Some critics have stated these longer films are beginning to turn cinemagoers off, with an article bemoaning the phenomenon appearing in the industry bible Variety last week under the headline: “Crop of lengthy pix test audiences’ patience”.

Yet it appears that running time has little drag at the box office with the average minutes of the most popular films in the UK steadily increasing over the past three decades.

Les Miserables, director Tom Hooper’s first film since The King’s Speech, is due to come out later this month with a running time of 160 minutes. The Hobbit, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Lincoln directed by Steven Spielberg, and Zero Dark Thirty chronicling the hunt for Osama bin Laden are all set to bust through the 140 minute mark. Cloud Atlas, the adaptation of the acclaimed David Mitchell novel, hits a whopping 173 minutes. Kaleem Aftab, a film correspondent for The Independent, said: “The prestige movies, the Oscar hopefuls and the big adaptations of books and musicals do tend to go on longer.”

Experts suggest a series of reasons why studios are not afraid to make high-profile films longer from digital technology, to audience expectation and the power of directors.

Damon Wise, contributing editor for Empire, said: “There isn’t really a single explanation, it involves all sorts of factors. It could be a response to giving value for money, the cinema is pretty expensive now, and the filmmaker appears to be holding the reins again.”

He continued: “The more I think about it, the more I think it’s a symptom of going digital.” The cheaper process allows directors to shoot more, while it is easier to put cuts back in than it was for those cutting with film.

Analyst Ben Carlson said last week that “a movie’s length can amplify negative feelings”. Yet, in the UK, cinemagoers have no problem with the extra minutes, with the average time of the most successful films going up in recent years.

The top 10 grossing films so far at the UK box office this year have an average running time of 125.5 minutes, similar to 2010 and 2009. This marks a 16 per cent rise from than three decades earlier.

While there are aberrations – in 2002 the average run time was 139 minutes, skewed by two whopping Lord of the Rings films – there has been an upward curve in the average times for the biggest grossing box office movies. This year, among the top three movies, Skyfall and Avengers Assemble, are 143 minutes each, while The Dark Knight Rises outstrips them to hit 165.

Blockbusters have increased in length as studios, who have put hundreds of millions into them, “want to give people bang for their buck,” Mr Aftab added. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a run-of-the-mill blockbuster about robots released last year, was 157 minutes long.

The first The Lord of the Rings film was one of the first to make the three-hour running time part of the sell. “There is an expectation of length for adaptations like that especially from hardcore fans,” Mr Aftab said. The Hunger Games also clocked in at 142 minutes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as Doctor Who and Clara behind the scenes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cheery but half-baked canine caper: 'Pudsey the dog: The movie'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce leads the MTV VMA Awards 2014 nominations with eight

music
Arts and Entertainment
Live from your living room: Go People perform at a private home in Covent Garden

theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor