Denis Villeneuve doesn't think an audience is turned off by long movie run times, The Times reported.

In fact, he thinks that young people, especially, want longer films.

Denis Villeneuve: young people want longer movies

Dune: Part Two gets massive runtime update

He argues that Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, which runs for three hours, became a $960 million global box office hit because it is long.

The epic film, which tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, often called the father of the atomic bomb, surprised box office observers with its success — especially since it was competing against the more audience-friendly Barbie. Not surprisingly though, Oppenheimer is set to dominate the Oscars with 13 nominations.

One would think that Oppenheimer's eye-watering three-hour run time would be exactly why it should have flopped at the box office, but Dune: Part Two director Villeneuve believed that's not the case. He said that the long run time made the movie a more meaningful experience for the audience.

“Think of Oppenheimer. It is a three-hour, rated-R movie about nuclear physics that is mostly talking. But the public was young — that was the movie of the year by far for my kids. There is a trend. The youth love to watch long movies because if they pay, they want to see something substantial. They are craving meaningful content,” he said.

This bodes well for Villeneuve since his own movie is two hours and 46 minutes long, just 14 minutes shorter than Oppenheimer. And the audience seems to agree with him since Dune: Part Two's box office tracking suggests that going to earn more than $80 million in just its opening weekend.

Villeneuve's first Dune movie released in 2021 was at two hours and 35 minutes. It grossed a respectable $434 million globally. It's not a bad number, but for a big movie it's not a great figure.

The director's other “long” movie 2017's Blade Runner 2049 clocked in at 2 hours and 32 minutes. However, it was seen as a box office failure when it only grossed $267 million globally.

The case for long run times

I agree with Villeneuve that people are no longer put off by long run times. In fact, I would wager that there are plenty of people who prefer that because it makes the whole experience of the going to the movies worthwhile.

I think it has a lot to do with people just wanting a reason to go out after being cooped up for so long during the pandemic. The easiest, no-planning necessary way to go out is to watch a movie on the big screen.

During the pandemic, being able to stream movies in the comfort of our own homes was a godsend. However, for some people, nothing beats the atmosphere of sharing a highly anticipated film with strangers.

That sentence sounded sarcastic if you read it aloud, but I promise it isn't. While I am grateful for streaming services and the convenience of being able to watch movies wherever and whenever I want, cinemas provide a communal atmosphere that just isn't replicated in one's own home. Unless, you don't mind strangers traipsing up and down your house.

And as for longer run times, while it's not always true that a longer story makes for a better one, what's true is that it does make for more time to explore the story. And if I were to make the effort to dress up, leave my house, brave the commute and the company of other people, it's going to be for a well-told, well-timed story.