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At 3.5 hours, “The Irishman” will be Martin Scorsese’s longest movie ever

Adam Epstein
the irishman netflix

Martin Scorsese fans: You have three months to train your bladders for his next film.

The Irishman, a mob drama about the hitman who claims to have killed labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, will be 3.5 hours (210 minutes) long. That makes it Scorsese’s longest film by half an hour—The Wolf of Wall Street and Casino are his next longest at three hours apiece. The Irishman will have a limited release in theaters in early November before hitting Netflix globally on Nov. 27.

Those who wait for the film to be released on Netflix can just pause the lengthy film whenever they need to. But those who want to watch The Irishman in theaters will have no such reprieve—especially because it won’t have an intermission, according to IndieWire.

At 3.5 hours, the crime drama is the longest mainstream American narrative film in more than 20 years, IndieWire also reported. Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 adaptation of Hamlet clocked in at a sadistic four hours and two minutes. The average modern movie is about an hour and 45 minutes.

Here’s every Scorsese movie, ranked by runtime:

Year Scorsese movie Runtime (hours)
2019 The Irishman 3.5
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street 3
1995 Casino 3
2004 The Aviator 2.8
2002 Gangs of New York 2.8
2016 Silence 2.7
1988 The Last Temptation of Christ 2.7
1977 New York, New York 2.7
2006 The Departed 2.5
1990 Goodfellas 2.4
2010 Shutter Island 2.3
1993 The Age of Innocence 2.3
1997 Kundun 2.2
1980 Raging Bull 2.2
1991 Cape Fear 2.1
2011 Hugo 2.1
1999 Bringing Out the Dead 2
1986 The Color of Money 2
1974 Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore 1.9
1973 Mean Streets 1.9
1976 Taxi Driver 1.8
1982 The King of Comedy 1.8
1985 After Hours 1.6
1967 Who’s That Knocking at My Door 1.5
1972 Boxcar Bertha 1.5

Scorsese, one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors, has a reputation for making longer-than-average epics. His most recent feature film, Silence, was nearly three hours. But it wasn’t always that way.

Several of Scorsese’s early crime dramas were two hours or less. He also made a few comedies—which tend to be shorter than dramas—at the beginning of his 50-year career.

The lengths of Scorsese’s films over time follows an interesting pattern. Starting in 1977 with New York, New York, longer films are followed by a period of progressively shorter films. Then it spikes back toward the long end—almost as if the filmmaker has to pay his industry dues for a few films before he’s able to indulge in another lengthy affair.

New York, New York was followed by four relatively short films before 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ (2.7 hours). That was followed by more shorter films before Casino (3 hours) in 1995, and so on. Gangs of New York in 2002, followed by The Aviator two years later, (his 18th and 19th feature films, respectively) was the first time consecutive films were each over 2.5 hours.

The more goodwill the Oscar winner has built up over his historic career, the more studios are willing to let him make movies as long as he wants. It’s possible Scorsese shaves off some of the runtime of The Irishman before it officially hits Netflix, but the streaming service won’t pressure him to do so. It’s just happy to be in business with the guy who directed Taxi Driver and The Departed.

Meanwhile, traditional Hollywood studios beholden to box office sales have become progressively risk-averse in recent years (producing a 3.5 hours-long film definitely counts as a risk, no matter how esteemed Scorsese is)—a fact the filmmaker recently lamented when he argued that “cinema is gone.” Perhaps The Irishman will help bring it back, if audiences can gear up for the long haul.

 

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