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A (long) day at the cinema

Movie classics like 'Casablanca' and 'High Noon' were short and sweet, but modern audiences are more likely to sit through a three-hour running time.


‘Les Misérables’

Universal Pictures/AP

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For moviegoers wanting to catch up on this year's Oscar-nominated films, there's one thing you'll need besides a tub of buttered popcorn – time, and a lot of it.

Nearly half of the 2013 nominees for Best Picture close in on the three-hour mark. While the trend toward longer run times has been on the climb over recent decades, to today's smart-phone-driven, multitasking audiences, an outing to the movies is no longer just a pleasant pastime. It's a full-on commitment. Consider the lengths of these nominees: "Django Unchained" (2 hours and 45 minutes), "Les Misérables" (2:37), "Zero Dark Thirty" (2:37), and "Lincoln" (2:30).

Combine those run times with the obligatory 20 minutes of previews and you've suddenly spent half a day in the dark – and paid the baby sitter a fortune. Growing movie lengths are partly because of lengthy special effects credits. But are directors of these behemoths aiming to wow audiences, or please Academy judges?


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