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Aaron Autterburg

How is the exact length of a film determined?

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Does it include the titles and credits? Some films have entry, intermission and exit music. Does it include that, too? Is there some kind of standard-setting body for this? I'm sure this is important for TCM as they need to precisely queue up the films, shorts, promos, etc. to keep things on schedule. But the marketing and production of films also need to know this. For example, when negotiating production contracts or distribution, all the parties need to be on the same page.

Here is an example of a movie that ran today: TCM lists The woman from Monte Carlo at 70 minutes. Other sources indicate that it is 65 minutes. (It actually ran about 69:45 mm:ss on TCM.)

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There is no standard, or agency that promotes one.  There might be as many methods as there are people who care to measure movies.  I think most would agree that a movie's time runs from the first logo to when the last credit crawls up off the top of the screen.  There are different released versions of many movies, some famously, some from country to country.  During the production code era states and even individual projectionists would take it upon themselves to edit out parts of movies they found objectionable, leading to myriad different prints.  How many of those remain I'm not sure, but if you are attentive, you can see where bits of dialogue too racy or otherwise have been clipped out.

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Welcome Aaron!

Sometimes TCM's films run over, especially if there are long wraparound segments. So the next movie might not get started until one or two minutes later (than is indicated on the schedule).

For the most part, though, they try to keep things on time. But even if something starts a bit later, there might be extra minutes afterward they can use to "absorb" the overage. It just means less advertising for the wine club.

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Thank you slaytonf and TopBilled for those answers.

That's amazing about the projectionists editing films!

FYI, I didn't mention it above but I measured that film from immediately after the last TCM content (the TCM rating graphic) all the way until the next TCM content started. At 69:45, I'd call that 70 minutes, exactly what TCM said it was.

I'm sure it is quite challenging to get all those films to start at exactly at the right time. I imagine they have some kind of computer system that queues up all the content and automatically fills in promos of the proper length to pad out the space between films.

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1 hour ago, Aaron Autterburg said:

Thank you slaytonf and TopBilled for those answers.

That's amazing about the projectionists editing films!

FYI, I didn't mention it above but I measured that film from immediately after the last TCM content (the TCM rating graphic) all the way until the next TCM content started. At 69:45, I'd call that 70 minutes, exactly what TCM said it was.

I'm sure it is quite challenging to get all those films to start at exactly at the right time. I imagine they have some kind of computer system that queues up all the content and automatically fills in promos of the proper length to pad out the space between films.

Note that TCM doesn't always get those times listed correctly or they show an edited version when they said they were planning on showing a more 'complete' version (e.g. a pre-code film that was re-released by the studio after July 1934,  when the CODE was enforced,  where content that violated said CODE was removed).

Another example is the showing of a British version instead of the American version (or vice-versa):   Sometimes content was cut and in a few cases a different ending (American versions tended to have less realistic,  'happy' endings due to audiences preferences).

 

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