Most British people say the ideal length for a movie is under two hours – below the current average movie length
Movies are long these days – between 1985 and 2000 the length of the average popular movie increased from around 110 minutes to 130, higher than the previous peak in the ‘60s of just under 120 minutes. Length has now plateaued (in 2014 the top 10 grossing movies in the UK averaged 129 minutes), but for those who’ve been watching movies for years or frequently watch older movies this will feel like a real shift in length.
Long movies clearly sell well – the average lengths are of box office hits – but there's a risk for producers of selling to a narrowing audience – cinema attendance in 2014 was the lowest since 1995.
New YouGov research reveals that the ideal movie length is below the current average. 55% of British people say the ideal movie is under two hours long, with the most popular running time between an hour and a half and two hours.
We also asked specifically about whether contemporary movies are too long. Although most people (58%) say they're about the right length, those who go to the cinema relatively frequently are more likely (24%) to feel they're too long compared with infrequent moviegoers (19%).
The number of original movies coming out of Hollywood has suffered a dramatic decline over the past 50 years. In 1977 nine out of ten of the biggest hits were original movies, while in 2014 there was just one. Most of the profitable movies now are sequals, reboots and franchises – 2014 saw another X-Men, another Spider-Man, another Hobbit, another Planet of the Apes... and the list goes on.