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Comic Book Movies are Becoming Too Long for Theatres

“An old, dusty skeleton, no glasses, watching a movie in a cinema and eating popcorn. photorealistic. wide angle lens.” D David × DALL·E Human & AI

You would think you can never have enough of your favorite comic book movie characters on the big screen. The longer a movie the better, right? Well, actually, no.

Some recent examples; The Batman was just shy of three hours long. Thor Love and Thunder, almost two hours, Black Adam, two hours five minutes, Wakanda Forever , two hours forty one minutes.

Runtime is seriously starting to become a factor as to whether I want to go see a film in a theatre because anything north of two hours is a long time to be seated, and then you really have to start factoring in a bathroom break.

The Bathroom Break - Just Go. It's No Big Deal!

I realize this is a very first world problem, and I hear those who say if you need a bathroom break during a film just go. It's not a big deal... and it isn't, I agree but...

When I see a movie I don't really want to be taken out of the experience - especially literally. If I'm going to need a bathroom break it's very likely it's going to be in the third act, where all the good stuff usually happens that I came to see.

So now I've got to decide when is the ideal moment, in a movie I haven't seen yet, to leave for the bathroom... and yes I have heard about the RunPee App. Here's the thing. If there are spots in the movie that are safe to miss, why are they in the movie? You could've just made the movie shorter without them. 

I don't like missing any of the film but my bladder doesn't care at all.

But You Binge Watch Way Longer at Home?

The other argument naysayers give against shorter runtimes is the fact that people binge watch entire series on streaming services at home. We're talking anywhere from six to ten hours plus of TV in a single sitting... no they don't. Not ever. You're the less than 1% exception if you're doing that.

People who binge watch shows have full control of that experience. They're taking a quick break between episodes, pausing if they can't absolutely wait to the end of an episode, and they can just stop an episode wherever and resume it the next day if they wish. None of which I can do in a movie theatre.

I've binge watched shows. I've never binge watched entire seasons of anything without inserting my own break times where I know I will absolutely not miss even a second of screen time.

In a movie theatre you get one chance to see the movie. Then you either have to pay to watch the whole thing again to see what you missed or wait for the film to come to home streaming. No one's pausing the movie so just you can take a break.

There's also a limit to binge watching at home. I have Zack Snyder's four hour cut of his Justice League movie on DVD. Despite the fact it's mostly really great, and features my favorite versions of the lead superheroes, I've watched it twice. Never in one complete sitting either. The runtime always puts me off watching it again.

What I'd Like to See?

Ideally I'd like to see shorter movies, around the one hundred and five minute mark. At a stretch around two hours tops but no more. 

Rein some of these directors in so they have to be a little more choosy over what scenes they can actually film. It feels like we're in an era of just let the director film everything and then we'll see what we're actually going to use. No wonder comic book movies cost so much.

On the flip side, if you have to go longer, go longer properly and make two movies at the same time. It's been done in the past. Imagine if Mat Reeves The Batman had been split into two films of just under two hours each. Let's bring in 'must see' cinema series where part one of a movie is released followed by part two the following weekend or month. 

Would you complain about getting even more of your favorite comic book movies?

That's my thoughts anyway. I'm sure I'm not alone. I do like to see movies on a big screen but, eventually they'll only be available on small screens. It's not like missing them on a big screen is that big a deal. I'm kind of getting used to waiting for the streaming version, or just not going to see a movie at all.

If you want to keep people like me going to theatres, maybe don't make movies where runtime is a factor.

It's great that director's have a vision but they also have their audience. Ultimately I want a good story told well. If it has to be more than two hours make sure you're not just padding for fan service.


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