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Paul Thomas Anderson explains the perfect length for a movie


What is the perfect length for a feature film? Does such a length even exist? This is a question we didn’t even know that we needed answering, as The Master and Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson has revealed his thoughts on the matter. 

Currently promoting his latest feature film, Licorice Pizza, starring Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper and Sean Penn, the modern master of cinema revealed that movies are “at their best” when they’re two hours long. 

In a conversation with The New York Times, Anderson discussed the perfect length for content, even talking about how a mini-series can sometimes be better suited to a cinematic story than a feature film. “[The limited series is a] great format when it works. It’s exciting. Then again, so are series,” the director stated, adding: “I’ve never dipped a toe in that world, but I can imagine it being very difficult to sustain the life of a story for more than two, three, four seasons”. 

Sounding as if he’d be keen to foray into the realm of serialised drama in the future, the director also said: “No one asks [me to do television]. I’m just sort of playing in my own corner of the sandbox”.

Continuing, he notes, “As a writer, I think we have fantasies when you struggle with editing material down: ‘I have so much material, perhaps this is a limited series.’ When in fact, no, it’s not, you just need to edit down your story”. 

Finally stating the perfect length for a feature film, Paul Thomas Anderson states, “I mean, a film should preferably be two hours. That’s when they’re at their best. I’ve missed that mark multiple times, but that’s really the goal”. 

Licorice Pizza is set to be released in the US on November 26th before being released in the UK on January 7th.