Are movies getting way longer than they used to be? The data: Nope


Randal Olson analyzed the duration of "the 25 most popular movies from each year from 1931 through 2013," and reveals the truth behind the myth that movies are "getting so much longer than they used to be."

Up until the 1950′s, feature films grew by 15-30 minutes. Then after the 1950s, the average movie hovered around 90 minutes. Interestingly, the trend here shows that movies have been getting a little bit shorter in the past few years. We’ll have to revisit this data in a few years to see if that trend holds.

The chart he created in January 2014 shows "the average feature film length over that time period."

Maybe they just seem longer because so many of them suck.

[via @randal_olson]

Notable Replies

  1. Uh... It kind of looks like they are. Clearly not in any direct linear way but the over all trend line is definitely up, don't you think? Sure they have been sort of flat for the last ten or so years, but you can take a window like that and show any trend you like over the data given. Also if I look at the trend from my youth around the 80's they have clearly gotten longer, which, perhaps, is why people think they have gotten longer. There are not so many people comparing movies from the 60 to now as there are from the 80s.

  2. I don't think that the MOVIES are significantly longer, but they do seem to allot more time between the advertised start time and and the start of the movie for ads and previews and whatnot.

  3. Uthor says:

    I was going to say the same thing. The longest movies from the 80's are the average movie length now. The average movies from the 80's are the minimum now.

  4. Old says:

    Perhaps Maggie would be willing to post a graph of the size of the average bladder since the 1930's.

  5. Err... the pull-quote used here is terrible. It's referring to his third graph of all movies, not the graph shown here in the article, which is for top movies. Looking and this graph and that pull-quote makes no sense at all.

    The first graph (the one shown here) is the better one anyway -- we're talking about the movies everyone watches. If you widen the dataset to include all sorts of crap in IMDB that is barely even for distribution, of course you're going to get a flat line.

    So that quote shouldn't really be quoted.

    He mentions in passing the reason movies seem to be getting longer: They did get longer from the early 80s, through the 90s, til now. That's a 20-year trend of movies getting longer -- that's a very fair sample to be talking about if you've been watching movies for the past 30 years.

    TL:DR: Movies certainly have been getting longer for the past 30 years.

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