Group of people watching boring movie in cinema

Group of people watching boring movie in cinema (© Nejron Photo - stock.adobe.com)

NEW YORK — Are shorter attention spans leading to shorter movies? It seems like we could soon say goodbye to cinematic marathons like “Oppenheimer” and “Avatar” according to a new survey. Americans have spoken and the verdict is in: moviegoers want shorter movies, not longer epics! In fact, a new poll finds moviegoers believe the ideal movie wraps up in just 92 minutes.

For context, 2022’s blockbuster sequel “Avatar: The Way Of Water” has a runtime of three hours and 12 minutes! Oscar-winner “Oppenheimer” keeps audiences in their seats for exactly three hours.

Sure, these films made plenty of money and you could say fans definitely got their money’s worth, but were Americans okay with losing their entire afternoon or evening sitting in a movie theater? The answer is apparently no.

The poll of 2,000 adults conducted by Talker Research finds that the average person wants to spend far less time at the theaters in the future. While 92 minutes came in as the ideal runtime length, only two percent of those polled think a movie should run longer than two-and-a-half hours. Just 15 percent want to sit through a movie that’s two hours or longer.

Girlfriend or wife upset with bored partner watching a movie
Only 2% of American moviegoers polled think a movie should run longer than two-and-a-half hours. (© Prostock-studio – stock.adobe.com)

That’s bad news for movie franchises like Marvel. The superhero movies have an average runtime of more than two hours, and that’s across a series which has lasted for more than 10 years! That’s a lot of minutes every year sitting in the cinema.

In the past 60 days, the average respondent feels they’ve watched two movies that they felt were too long, with 23 percent having reluctantly sat through three or more time-consuming films.

The researchers also looked at how movie lovers feel about subtitles. According to the results, 15 percent say that whether subtitles should be on or off is a hotly debated topic in their household. However, 77 percent say it’s a total non-issue.

A third of those polled say they “never” use subtitles when they watch TV at home, while just 16 percent say they “always” do. Interestingly, this figure was vastly different among different age groups, as younger Americans seem to be huge fans of the concept of seeing the words they’re hearing on the screen — even if it’s not in a foreign language.

Thirty percent of Gen Z respondents “always” watch with subtitles, with 23 percent of millennials saying the same. Meanwhile, just 13 percent of Gen X and 12 percent of boomers agree.

Survey methodology:

This online survey of 2,000 Americans was conducted by market research company Talker Research, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected from April 3 to April 8, 2024. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the Talker Research team, which is a member of the MRS and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). 

About Patrisha Antonaros

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