What verbs can you use to express the duration of a movie other than "run"?

Example sentence:

Boyhood runs for three hours.

  • 3
    It lasts three hours. Jan 23, 2016 at 16:04
  • 2
    Boyhood drags on for three hours. Boyhood zips by in three hours.
    – GEdgar
    Jan 23, 2016 at 16:38
  • 2
    I've seen that movie. I'd say drags on for 3 hours is more like it. I felt like I'd missed 3 days of work by the time it was over.
    – Tim Ward
    Jan 23, 2016 at 18:44
  • 1
    Boyhood lasted for longer than I could stay awake for. I plan on trying again ...
    – Dan
    Jan 23, 2016 at 19:08
  • 2
    Boyhood is three hours long.
    – Jim
    Jan 23, 2016 at 19:25

3 Answers 3


The first micro-question to consider is "Why is 'runs' common?"

Movies seem to have inherited this term from theater where "limited runs", "re-runs", "plays that ran for a season", and "a play that ran for 3 hours" are all common terms.

The verb usage of runs with movies is just as ambiguous about whether it is the "length of time it was available in theaters" or "the length of a single showing".

Noun usage is much clearer. "That movie had a run..." speaks of availability. "That movie had a runtime..." speaks of individual length.

Micro-question 2: "What other verbs can be used, that do not express a qualitative opinion?" Almost any "presentational action" verb can be used:

  • Shows, plays, lasts
  • Situational: projects, displays, performs, *-casts

Micro-question 3: "What other verbs can be used, that do express a qualitative opinion?" Many "Adjectival verbs" can work

  • positive: captivates, thrills, zips
  • negative: drags, chugs, plods

In addition to the above, "goes for" is particularly common, at least in Australia English. Here's a random review from this link http://www.abc.net.au/rollercoaster/therap/reviews/s756056.htm

Hey people! I urge you people to go and see this movie. It is a great film and has a good storyline (for you people who find it hard to follow one) The movie goes for about 1.5 hours (for those of you with short attention spans) but in that time there is action and excitement.


H R Rambler: Micro question 1. The reason for a movie 'running' for its duration is that the physical film (before we got digital files and DVDs) always 'ran' through the projector. The same usage of 'to run' applies to thread leaving a bobbin, grain leaving a hopper and so on. This is a different use of 'to run' from the theatrical term which refers to the length of time the play is on at a given theatre. I don't believe that lantern slide presentations where a series of separate glass slides were shown were said to 'run', I think that they 'lasted'.

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