One area where less is truly more…


Maybe it’s just me getting older, but I’m too impatient to sit through a 90-minute movie anymore, let alone the 3-hour-plus “epics” that Hollywood keeps wanting to churn out. (Here’s a tip to the studios: Shorter movies = More screenings = More money!)

Now, I watch most movies at home on some kind of DVD, satellite or VOD (although I did get out to see OCEAN’S THIRTEEN last weekend, which was my first theatre experience since February!)… which is great because I have the bladder of an infant child, so I have to pause at least once or twice for that, and maybe to hit the kitchen for one of my infamous homemade smoothies.

But no matter what, if the movie drags out longer than 90 minutes, I’m guaranteed to start fidgeting during the final act.

Case in point: THE PRESTIGE, which the wife and I watched last night on Blu-ray. Not a bad flick, but one that I felt didn’t need to be over 2 hours long (especially considering the amount of information that was being repeated over and over again!). To make matters worse, my cat decided (with less than 10 minutes left to go) she wanted to play behind the television, and not once but twice she stepped on the 6-outlet switch box that our Playstation 3 was plugged into. That meant restarting the stupid thing and finding our spot again… well, at least it wasn’t on HD-DVD, since our first-generation player takes forever to load and play…

Perhaps the worst offender of being overly long is the one I often cite, the first LORD OF THE RINGS. I know that’s blasphemy to many, but I was bored to tears watching it (I’ve never been a big fantasy fan) and felt the movie sorely needed another editor to trim it down! I wasn’t alone… my stepmother watched it with me on DVD and felt the same way. I can only imagine the sheer agony of watching the extended version, let alone the other two flicks, which to this day I have avoided like the plague. Life is too short for all these 3+ hour movies!!

It pains me to refer to my former employer Charles Band, but he had a good point when he felt that most movies should only be 60 minutes. On that point, I agree with him (although most of the movies he produces should be half that length!). I say better to have one really great 1-hour movie than something that falls on its face at 90 minutes, 2 hours or (God forbid) even longer!

I had an experience with a mediocre zombie flick that I was distributing a few years back… it was right at 2 hours long and that was actually only half of the story (a sequel was pending). My gut instincts told me to have the filmmaker cut 30 mins. out of the movie, because the pacing was pretty slow. But I didn’t, and sure enough, as soon as it came out, every single review trashed it for being overly long (among other problems, LOL).

Last year I released a friend’s thriller, a movie I had been more actively involved in during the post-production phase, which was creeping up on the 2-hour mark. I fought to keep cutting it down, but when we released it, it was still too damn long, and most of the reviews agreed. Now the filmmaker agrees that it could have lost “5 or 10 minutes”, but that hasn’t stopped him from running out and making a sequel that’s even longer!! Some people never learn. I fought this battle (and won) with the same filmmaker some years ago on a documentary he produced for me. He wanted it to be 4 hours long, I chopped it down to a tight 65 minutes that leaves the viewer satisfied and maybe even wanting a little more, instead of dying to hit the fast-forward button.

The longest movie I’ve personally directed is 90 minutes… most of them are between 72 and 85 minutes. I recall editing THE SANDMAN back in 1995, the first cut was something like 105 minutes, and I chopped out 15 minutes to tighten things up. In hindsight a decade later, I should have kept going! LOL

It’s very rare to find a movie where the long running time is actually an advantage… TITANIC was certainly one such movie that got away with it, even more surprising when you consider everyone knew the ending in advance! And it’s Hollywood who’s to blame for inspiring the rest of us to make “mini-epics” with long running times, when the reality is, the big studio flicks that run long often suck as much as the backyard epics. Less is more here, folks! Learn to tell your story in 60 to 90 minutes… you will be glad you did. If the movie is really good, it will leave the audience wanting more… and that’s not such a bad thing, either…



This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 at 12:22 pm and is filed under Complaint Department, Movies, Random Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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