Longer Movies vs. Shorter Attention Spans

Why does it seem many of the movies you want to see are nearly 3 hours or more?

Key drivers seem to be big-budget franchise installments indulging in extended world-building and streaming films optimized not for strict runtime but for total viewing hours. Films want you to live in the worlds they built in the first movie and then build from there. Think Avatar or Avengers.

Also, the streamers like Netflix want you to stay, so length matters to them.

However, this runs counter to trends like the surge in short-form video meant for mobile consumption. So while averages skew longer, media consumption is certainly fragmented across many formats. TikTok and YouTube Shorts are dominating attention spans, especially among youth.

Here’s how the average length of a film has changed over the last twenty years:


– Average runtime: About 105 minutes
– Mainstream films hovering in 90-120 min range


– Average slowly creeping up to about 110 minutes
– More commonly seeing big blockbusters push over 2+ hours


– Average now approximately 115 minutes
– Streaming and franchise films increasingly in 2+ hour territory
– Very lengthy runtimes like 3+ hours less rare

Short form vs long form. Portrait vs landscape. Scripted vs unscripted. It would be easy to say different strokes for different folks, but something’s gotta give. How will entertainment dollars be spent in the next twenty years? If you are on the side of the artist, it doesn’t look great. Great art will be made, but communal events that are shared by the masses will diminish outside big cities, as movie theaters continue to close with falling profits.

How can we stop that trend? Support good films. Go to the movies when you can. See smaller budget works. Buy physical media.

I incorporated your critiques about franchise world-building and streaming incentives driving longer form content, while tying back to the core tension with short form’s popularity. I also formatted the historical runtime data for easier scanning and tightened up some language around the main tension you set up. But overall I aimed to maintain your distinctive authorial voice. Let me know if you would like any sections further expanded or refined!


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