Christopher Nolan’s Tenet just hit another roadblock in China’s movie theaters: maximum run time length of two hours.
As if there weren’t enough issues complicating theatrical releases, China has announced a new barrier. While it’s allowing theaters to reopen as of July 20, that permission comes with a caveat: To limit the length of time audiences spend in auditoriums, all titles must run two hours or less.‘Tenet’ Faces a New Challenge: China Says It’s Too Long to Play | IndieWire
Actually, I like this safety requirement. I like this for the majority of movies even without COVID-19.
As a general rule, I’ve felt most movies I’m seeing are too long. Sure, I’ve enjoyed movies that were longer than two hours, but prefer that movies look at 90 minutes as a target and if they go over, they have 30 extra minutes of buffer. The vast majority of films have stories that can be told effectively in two hours or less.
At the same time, artificial limits for films can limit a story that truly can’t be told in that amount of run time. If the story goes too long, just go the Kill Bill route and split the films up into two distinct parts and separate films. If it’s really long, then go the series route. There are any number of streaming channels that would welcome a good miniseries. If the story can be expanded beyond 8 hours, start considering it to be a TV series broken by seasons.
Films started out being around an hour in length, but that was 100 years ago. As time has gone on, movies have gotten longer and more bladder challenging. Some so long that sites like RunPee (see: Need A Bathroom Break During the Movie? Runpee to the rescue) have become necessary tools.
Back to Tenet.
What should they do to get down to two hours? A China-specific edit (The Tenet China Cut) is likely the most logical answer. Or they can skip China, but that’s a huge market they can’t really afford budget-wise to ignore. The film is about 30 minutes over, so Nolan and his editor needs to get cutting.
What do you think of this COVID-19 requirement in China? Would you like to see it imposed in the United States? I wouldn’t mind, would you?