Last updateWed, 30 Sep 2020 1pm


Short and Sweet: Is a 40 Minute Movie Worth Admission?

40 MovieWhile Kanye West is enjoying his latest album Jesus is King reaching the top of Billboard’s 200 chart for the ninth time in his career, he has also had some success with his latest film too. Yes, as a companion with his album, West released a film with the same title in IMAX theaters countrywide. The film is a concert performance of West’s new rap-gospel album at the Roden Crater in Painted Desert, Arizona.

This isn’t a new concept for artists. Beyoncé came out with Lemonade to compliment her hit album with the same name, Melanie Martinez did it with K-12, and even Bruce Springsteen released Western Stars a couple weeks ago in theaters nationwide.

Although West has plenty to praise the Lord for, his film only allotted 38 minutes. A typical IMAX movie can cost around $19.70 at a regular time, which means that audiences had to pay a little over a $1 for every two minutes.

That sounds like a rip-off, right? I mean, who would want to spend that kind of cash for something so short! But believe it or not, West made over $1 million in his big screen debut.

It sounds crazy, but there was actually an audience out for this. And even crazier? This might pave a new way we go to the cinema.

In an interview with Variety, Megan Colligan, President of IMAX Entertainment, said, “We saw an opportunity to create a cultural moment with a visionary artist in a way that expands the IMAX brand, while surprising audiences and experimenting with what we can bring to our platform beyond blockbusters.”

When you think about going to the movies, you think of getting popcorn and soda, chilling in a (now reclining) chair for a couple hours, and getting excited to see what comes next for the next two hours or so. It’s a great escape for killing a few hours or an excuse for taking a fat nap. But in West’s case, you probably wouldn’t make it through half of your popcorn by the time the film ends.

40 Movie 2Considering we’re so used to going to the movies for an extended period of time and being invested in the film for so long, will Jesus change the way we go to the movies? Well, it depends.

In today’s world, we want everything instantly. We yell at the computer when it takes 5 seconds to load and even get angry at the pizza guy when he’s not at our house in 30 minutes. Maybe this trend of instant satisfaction might bleed into the theaters with Jesus. Some people might get bored of a movie after an hour, so why take it any further?

But the other side is trying to get your money’s worth for your ticket. Usually, the longer you’re sitting or sleeping in your seat, the farther your money goes.

Additionally, the longer the movie is, the more inclined people may feel to buy concessions. For example, if the movie is only 40 minutes long, would you buy a large popcorn and soda for another $20? Or would you do it for something over three-hours-long like Avengers: Endgame?

With these two factors, it could be a losing case for theaters. While they can have double the amount of screenings for the film, it may fetch less people than a full length film of nearly an hour-and-a-half. Plus, they will be less inclined to buy concessions.

A big reason why West’s film had moderate success was because it had his name on it. Call people crazy for spending that much dough on a movie, but there’s no doubt it’s not cheap to be a West fan. With his new crewlink sweatshirt costing $250 on his website, his fans are willing to shell out a little extra for West’s gospel.

So if a no-name director released a 40 minute movie with a small cast, would it still attract the same audience? Can I get a “no?”

Aaron Furgason, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor of the Communication Department, pointed out that West’s fame was a big reason for the decent box office numbers. “I don’t think this is the future of film, but a clever promotional method to promote a new Kanye West album. If you’re a fan of West, a 38-minute-long film is worth the price of admission,” Furgason said.

With theaters rapidly changing how they do business, who knows if we’ll see more short releases like this. Cinemas are doing anything to get butts in the chairs, from Moviepass to rewards programs; so if enough people come out for 40 minute movies, they might roll with it. Maybe West will release another film for his next album to test the waters and resurrect another profit.

IMAGE TAKEN from IndieWire


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