Robert De Niro partially covers his face with his hand while sitting in a movie theater in the film 'Taxi Driver'

New Poll Claims This Is the ‘Ideal’ Movie Runtime

According to the results of a new poll, most Americans would prefer it if movies were a little shorter—and I would prefer it if we stopped publishing the results of polls as if they prove anything useful.

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According to the results of a recent poll conducted by Talker Research (via The Guardian), the “ideal” movie running time is 92 minutes. The group polled 2,000 Americans on their attitudes about movie runtimes, and through some math that has not been disclosed for reasons I’m sure are very sound and not at all suspicious, Talker Research determined that the average ideal movie length is 92 minutes. I assume the poll asked respondents for a specific “ideal” runtime and came up with an average to arrive at that number. Still, I have questions.

I visited the official page for the Talker Research poll, which was published with the headline “Americans are officially over marathon movies.” This is a blatantly inaccurate statement for several reasons, but let’s start with the 10 highest-grossing films of 2023. Only three films in the top 10 have a runtime under two hours: Barbie, the highest-grossing film of 2023, has a runtime of one hour and 54 minutes; Wonka clocks in at one hour and 56 minutes. Every other movie in the top 10 has a runtime over two hours, including Killers of the Flower Moon, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Oppenheimer—even that batshit conspiracy drama Sound of Freedom is over two hours long.

Only The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which came in second place at the domestic box office, suspiciously clocks in at exactly 92 minutes—who’s paying for this “Talker Research” poll? Bowser???

Shorter movies can be nice, sure, but that doesn’t mean that all movies should be shorter. And Hollywood certainly won’t (and shouldn’t) make changes to movie runtimes based on a poll of 2,000 randos—which brings me to my next point about this poll, and polls in general: who the hell are these 2,000 “average” Americans? Do they watch movies regularly? How often do they see a movie in a theater? Have they seen a lot of long movies, or just a few? For instance, if the only long movie they’ve ever watched is Les Miserables (the one where Anne Hathaway shows up to sob for five unbroken minutes while covered in soot), I can understand the distaste for longer runtimes.

Unfortunately, Talker Research isn’t being transparent about its polling methods. However, the group will happily tell you that two percent of the 2,000 bots people polled thought movies should be longer than two and a half hours—what a bizarre generalization. Apparently only 15% of respondents want to sit through a movie that’s over two hours long. Maybe they have shit to do! I don’t know their life!

Should movies be longer? Should movies be shorter? These are not serious questions for serious people. Here’s a question for the average American: Should your government be sending billions of dollars to Israel to help the military murder thousands of innocent Palestinians? Would you prefer it if your tax dollars were funding access to healthcare, education, and housing in America instead of paying weapons manufacturers? Would you like it if airplanes were safe and stopped falling apart IN THE SKY? I don’t know, man. I just can’t be bothered to take anyone seriously when their platform is “movies are too long now.” Okay???? Do something else???

(featured image: Columbia Pictures)


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Author
Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.