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How Binge-Watching Creates a New Art Form
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September 21, 2016
Inroads Journal

A new art form, the feature-length movie, emerged in Australia in 1906; a second, the television drama, in the United States in 1936. Each was a reflection of the medium in which it was shown. Among other things, this constrained its length, which in turn set limits to the kind of story it could tell.

Until 1915 films averaged 15 minutes in length; then five-reel (50-minute) features became common practice. Silent films were typically either five-reel dramas or two-reel (20-minute) comedies. Once sound became a standard feature, the length increased. The average length of feature-film talkies was around 90 minutes as early as 1931 and, possibly as a result of competition from television, almost 120 minutes by 1960 (figure 1).1


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