Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' Will Buck His – and Summer's – Runtime Trend, Clock In at Under Two Hours

‘Dunkirk’ (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Especially in summer, a trip to the movies can be a major time commitment — and not just from waiting in lines to pick up tickets, buy food, or use the rest rooms. Far too often these days, Hollywood’s biggest tentpole releases are also their longest, clocking in well over two hours — and sometimes close to three — and bombarding us in so many cases with 20 to 30 minutes more CGI sound and fury than it feels like we really need. Following on the heels of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (136 min), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (129 min), and Wonder Woman (141 min), this week’s Transformers: The Last Knight runs a robust 149 minutes, which thanks to director Michael Bay’s penchant for assaultive aesthetic robot action, feels more like 1,490. It feels like such a relief to hear that Dunkirk, one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the summer, will only last 107 minutes — making it the shortest film in two decades from its director, Christopher Nolan.

Nolan is partly responsible for this current trend of cinematic bloat, thanks to his lengthy Batman films (averaging 150 min), Inception (148 min), and Interstellar (169 min). But for his upcoming WWII epic, he’s going to tell his story in less than two hours, his shortest effort since his 1998 directorial debut, Following. Of course, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, his prior movies’ protracted size has rarely hurt them at the box office — his Dark Knight trilogy earned $2.4 million globally, despite that aforementioned two-and-a-half hour average runtime — so it’s difficult to make any sort of compelling correlation between length and financial success. And that’s once again been proven by Wonder Woman, which has dominated the theatrical landscape since its debut.

Still, in the interest of our patience (and rear ends), it’s heartening to know that Dunkirk won’t require setting aside an entire afternoon to experience its wartime drama. Nolan’s film — starring Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, and Mark Rylance — on July 21.

‘Dunkirk’: Watch a trailer:

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