Brits Think Oscar Films are Too Long and They Prefer Telly

As Hollywood gears up for the glitzy Oscars on the 10th of March, there’s a shock revelation stirring the popcorn pot that the films in the running for prestigious awards might just be too long for your average cinema-goer.

Six out of ten films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar award are over two hours long, including bookies’ favourite Oppenheimer, a new survey has lifted the lid on the nation’s film-watching habits by surveying 2,000 UK residents, and it’s bad news for those epic-length flicks.

44% of those surveyed said ideally films should be no longer than two hours. But a further 29% said films any longer than an hour and a half long are pushing it.

It seems women might have a shorter attention span when it comes to movie marathons, with 35% opting for flicks under an hour and a half, compared to 23% of men. But when it comes to the two-hour mark, it’s game on, with 43% of women and 44% of men giving the thumbs up.

But what’s driving this need for shorter movies? It could be our dwindling attention spans. A study by the Centre for Attention Studies at King’s College London in 2022 found that nearly half of the adults surveyed felt their attention span had taken a nosedive. 

Our cinema refreshment habits could also be a contender, especially those gargantuan drinks. According to the NHS, a standard bladder can only hold a pint (568ml). So, if you’ve supersized your drink to wash down that popcorn, you might find yourself missing more than just the trailers.

40% of those who prefer films no more than two hours long said they would need a toilet break, and 31% of those who prefer films no longer than 90 minutes agreed. Interestingly, the survey unveiled that a whopping 45% of the under-24 crowd are feeling the call of nature, compared to a more stoic 33% of the over-55s.

Key scenes you’ll miss

While streaming services continue to soar, there’s still something magical about hitting the cinema for that big-screen experience. But with bladders straining and attention spans waning, which pivotal scenes are we missing when we can’t hit pause? 

The longest Oscar-nominated film this year is Killers of the Flower Moon at 3 hours and 26 minutes. If you needed a toilet break 90 minutes in, you’d miss a shocking announcement around the dinner table. 

If you could hang on but need to go at hour two, you’d then miss the animal a very sick Mollie sees in her bedroom, and what Ernest is doing to his wife without her knowledge. If you went again at 3 hours in, you’d miss Ernest being given harrowing news whilst he is stuck in jail.

The second longest Oscar-nominated film this year is Oppenheimer, at 3 hours long. If you went for a toilet break at 90 mins you would miss J. Robert Oppenheimer attempting to persuade physicist Edward Teller not to abandon his atomic bomb project.

If you went to the toilet after two hours, you’d miss Kitty Oppenheimer being relayed a cryptic message on behalf of her husband J. Robert Oppenheimer to ‘bring in the sheets’, following a successful testing of the atomic bomb.

Streaming stats

When it comes to TV vs the cinema, 40% of respondents confessed their preference for binge-worthy TV series over the latest Hollywood blockbusters. In stark contrast, only 27% expressed a fondness for films, signalling a seismic shift in viewing preferences.

For new film releases, the nation appears to be evenly split. Thirty-one percent opt for the convenience of streaming movies at home, while an equal proportion still enjoy the traditional cinema experience – though streaming movies at home does just scrape the majority with 31.25% to the cinema’s 31.15%. Ten percent, meanwhile, would prefer to stream movies on the move.

Digging deeper into the demographics, age emerges as a significant factor influencing viewing preferences. Those under 34 prefer the cinematic experience, while those aged 35 and above gravitate towards the comfort of home streaming.

Regionally, the majority of UK areas seem to favour the cosy confines of home viewing. However, Greater London goes against national trends with 40% of respondents in the capital opting for the cinema compared to 30% who prefer streaming at home.

But amidst the gloom for cinemas, there’s a glimmer of hope. Cinema advertising agency Digital Cinema Media and Pearl & Dean reported a 6% increase in cinema attendance in 2023, despite disruptions caused by industry strikes and the strain of the cost of living on households. While still shy of pre-pandemic footfall highs, the sector shows signs of a steady recovery.

According to the UK Cinema Association, the average price of just one cinema ticket is now £7.92, which although is cheaper than Netflix’s lowest ad-free subscription at £10.99, it can’t compete with access to over 6,000 TV series and films available on the streaming service.

Christopher Wilkie, spokesperson for Heart Bingo, who commissioned the survey, said: “We’ve got an enduring love affair with the cinema, there’s no denying that. But let’s not overlook the practical realities for us mere mortals in the audience.

“While we’re all for a captivating story that transports us to another world, films pushing past the three-hour mark can feel like embarking on a transatlantic flight without a neck pillow. We’re eager passengers, but we’re also hoping for a smooth ride.

“Even though we might squirm a bit in our seats during those marathon films, it doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the cinema. It’s just a reminder that sometimes less is more, when it comes to a comfortable viewing experience.”

2024 Oscar Best Picture nominees – ranked from shortest to longest feature length

PAST LIVES, 1hr 46

David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, Producers


James Wilson, Producer


David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Robbie Brenner, Producers


Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson and Jermaine Johnson, Producers


Bradley Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers


Mark Johnson, Producer

POOR THINGS, 2hrs 21

Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, Producers


Marie-Ange Luciani and David Thion, Producers


Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan, Producers


Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Martin Scorsese and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Tatiana Rehmova

A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason, Tatiana works in Media Relations and is the Content Producer. She loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships.