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Movies Are Too Damn Long

Movies are too damn long, and making them last longer does not equal higher quality.


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Khalid Birdsong

4 months ago | 4 min read
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Why not simplify and tell better stories, Hollywood?

Photo by tommao wang on Unsplash

Going to the movies feels like work now.

You have to sit through twenty minutes of previews; then, you already feel like it’s time to use the restroom when the movie actually starts.

Are you with me in wishing Hollywood would get better at telling more succinct stories? Let’s keep them at under two hours, please.

Whatever happened to an hour and a half? The amount of time to pull you in, present the characters and problem, take you through the climax and finish with a nice tying up of loose ends. Ah! That used to feel good.

Not anymore. Hollywood wants us to go back into movie theaters but gives us films longer than our commutes to work and back. Who wants to spend three hours in a big room with other germy humans, talking and checking their phones, when you could be at home?

Not only your comfort zone, but home is where you have all the power to pause, rewind, or shut off the movie you’re streaming whenever needed.

You’re not trapped in a box with a bunch of strangers.

Movies don’t have to be so long

You know it’s possible to cut out the majority of that three-hour movie you just watched, but the directors didn’t. In fact, they probably cut hours of footage to keep it under four.

I love how much we can do with special effects and how Hollywood is better at making quality movies now than thirty years ago, but I believe people are tired. Yes, from the pandemic and world affairs, but emotionally exhausted as well. Can we have a short escape that doesn’t vacuum our free time?

That’s probably why more people are watching YouTube videos. Give me a fifteen-minute piece of entertainment, where I can choose whether or not to watch another afterward, is golden. Having the power to decide how to use your entertainment time is compelling.

Believe it or not, I love going to the movies. Watching on the big screen and only having one thing to focus on for a couple of hours is magical. I can follow the story more leisurely and appreciate the hard work and creativity the cast and crew put into it.

If you’re making a marathon-length film, you have to expect some people to miss parts of the story. Either you’re leaving to use the restroom or zoning out while watching, thinking about when to get up and go to the bathroom.

Am I obsessed with having the freedom to relieve myself during a movie? Yes. There should be no shame in using the bathroom, but extremely long movies make you scared you’re going to miss something important. If you stay seated and push through, you’re uncomfortable and not enjoying it the way you should.

Bring back the intermission

Let’s treat going to the movies like watching a play. Please give us an intermission. You know you need a break between all the action and plot points to use the restroom and stretch your legs.

We take way too long for the entire story arc to play out nowadays, and viewers are left twiddling their thumbs while thinking about when to get up to go pee.

You have to sit longer than ever now because most Marvel movies, for example, have post-credit scenes. You have 20–30 minutes of sitting to watch a 30-second teaser that connects to the next film.

I love that this gives people a chance to read the credits and understand how many people it takes to make that special effects blockbuster you just watched, but it’s a considerable time investment we shouldn’t feel sad about missing.

If you know there’ll be an intermission, deciding to go to a movie theater will be more manageable and less stressful.

Give us our time back

We have enough devices and screens vying for our time and attention these days. While watching a movie in the theaters, you may stay focused on one thing, but so much of your day is sucked away by how long they are. For some people, I can see why they would opt out.

With our busy lives, it’s tough to devote half your day to go to the movies. There’s so much you’re missing or could be doing.

When you shorten movies and give more bang in less time, people feel like their time was well spent. I didn’t even bring up the giant elephant in the room—what if the movie sucks?

You’re spending hours of your life watching something terrible. Walking out of the theater in shock at how poorly you spent your time and how badly Hollywood just wasted it.

I’m looking for better, shorter, and more creative ways to tell stories, so we don’t have to devote our entire lives to our favorite movies or franchises. One upside to a shorter film is wanting more when the credits roll.

Remember that feeling?

We sure don’t have much of that anymore. When a movie is done playing through nowadays, we breathe a sigh of relief. “Phew! We made it through!”

The only exception is animated movies. Am I the only one going into one with less weight on my shoulders, knowing it will be a fun experience and over relatively quickly?

I’m sure animation studios would make three-hour movies if it didn’t take a bajillion years to make one. Sometimes the constraints of the creative arts can be a good thing.

Movies are too damn long, and making them last longer does not equal higher quality. From now on, I’m giving more props to the ones that can put it all together beautifully in under two hours.

Let’s see if Hollywood is up to the challenge.


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Khalid Birdsong

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Educator | Writer | Cartoonist

Writing and drawing to entertain, educate, and help businesses succeed. Visual artist, teacher, and personal growth writer. Join my newsletter and learn how to enrich your life- https://astounding-speaker-7629.ck.page/76573e6bdc I have also worked as a freelance cartoonist and comic book artist. My comic strip, Fried Chicken and Sushi, syndicated through Andrews McMeel, runs every week on GoComics.com and friedchickenandsushi.com.


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