When I was a kid, they still used to show the ‘serials’ before the main feature at the movies – and each episode of The Rocketeer, or Copperhead, or even Hopalong Cassidy lasted around 15 minutes. Which was pretty much the attention span of your average 10-year old.
But even for grownups, the average length of a movie was either around 75 minutes, or it would be broken into two parts.
This was partly to give patrons a toilet break (the so-called ‘broadway bladder’ theory was that 75 minutes was as long as theatre-goers could last). But the other reason was to maximise the sales at the concession bar.
These days, of course, many films are around the 2 hour 30 mark … but that’s because the rise of the megaplex meant that they could jam in a whole lot more sessions, even if the movies were longer.
But the reason I mention this today is that I had occasion to watch the latest Bond film today – Spectre – and I notice that it has a full 15 minutes before the credits.
I don’t know what the record is, but it certainly seemed like an awfully long opening sequence!
I acknowledge that it was an amazing set-piece (No spoilers here – but it was one of the most full-on opening sections I’ve seen for ages – and it certainly showcased Mexico City so well that it’s been added to my bucket list!) – but it just seemed to … drag, somehow.
It reminded me, in a way, or watching Gone With The Wind.
That was a movie that was so blaoted, so over-full that I would have been happy to leave at the intermission.
So how about you? What strikes you as the proper length for a film? For an opening sequence?
Do you agree with Pierce Brosnan that at 2 hrs 28 minutes, Spectre was bloated, over-long, and could have been condensed?
Or don’t you care how long a film goes, just as long as you enjoy the experience?
(NB – in case you were wondering, I’ve moved the weekly arts & entertainment blogpost to Saturday, to give the Rear View Microphone podcast its proper place at the end of the weekend …)