Writer (and tech nerd) John August challenged Stephen Follows to dig through the data and see if the classic entertainment-industry guideline that one page of screenplay equals one minute of runtime in a film was actually true. Follows analyzed 761 feature films and scripts and the answer is… sort of?
August’s response to the research is interesting:
Unfortunately, too many folks in the film and television industry have internalized one-page-per-minute as an axiomatic Truth. So any script that is longer than 120 pages is automatically perceived as being too long. Indeed, some studios’ contracts specify that the writer may not deliver a script longer than 120 pages. Screenwriters waste time making tiny edits with the goal of moving page breaks to bring their scripts under this artificial limit. It’s pointless busy work…. Is there an opportunity for computer-generated running time estimates? Probably.
Thank you Stephen for accepting this challenge and myth-busting this rule of thumb.
Thanks to John for suggesting it and Stephen for doing it. (And thanks to Antony Johnston for calling it to my attention.)