‘Ideal’ movie running time is 92 minutes, poll claims

<span>Too long? … Avengers: Endgame.</span><span>Photograph: null/Marvel Studios/Disney/Allstar</span>
Too long? … Avengers: Endgame.Photograph: null/Marvel Studios/Disney/Allstar

A market research poll claims to have established that 92 minutes is the “ideal” movie length for American audiences.

According to Talker Research (formerly OnePoll US), an online survey conducted in April with 2,000 Americans concluded that respondents opted for 92 minutes as their preferred running time. Fifteen per cent said that films over 120 minutes (two hours) were acceptable, while only 2% were happy with a movie longer than 150 minutes (2.5 hours).

On the face of it this claim conflicts with commercial realities, with nine out of the 10 highest grossing films of all time clocking in at over two hours, with three (Avengers: Endgame, Avatar: Way of Water and Titanic) lasting over three hours each. Only the 2019 remake of The Lion King, at No 9, misses the two-hour mark, at 118 minutes.

However, the issue came to the fore recently after some cinemas interrupted screenings of the 206-minute Martin Scorsese picture Killers of the Flower Moon with an unauthorised intermission. Scorsese had previously defended his film’s running time, saying: “You can sit in front of the TV and watch something for five hours … there are many people who watch theatre for 3.5 hours … give cinema some respect.”

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Recent research by What to Watch suggests that the average running time of the most commercially successful films is increasing, with an average of 141 minutes in 2022 compared with 110 minutes in 1981. A number of reasons have been advanced, from streaming platforms’ ability to ignore the rigidity of cinema screening schedules, to the desire to showcase expensive visual effects and action sequences that have proliferated over the last decade.

Talker Research also asked respondents about using subtitles while watching TV, with 33% saying they “never” used them and 16% saying they “always” did. However, figures for the latter appeared to be age-related, with younger cohorts more likely to use them; 23% of millennials said they “always” used subtitles, and 30% of gen Z.