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Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas AndersonCourtesy of Focus Features

Paul Thomas Anderson would prefer that all films are two hours long

‘I’ve missed that mark multiple times,’ the Licorice Pizza director admits

Ahead of the limited release of his new film, Licorice Pizza, later this week, Paul Thomas Anderson has discussed the blurred lines between movies and the limited series, refecting on the amount of material that can be included in each medium, and why longer isn’t necessarily better where movies are concerned.

Speaking in an interview with the New York Times, the Phantom Thread filmmaker reminisces about the separation between cinema and television when he was growing up: “A time when movies were magical, and TV was just something you had in a box at home.”

“Those days are long gone, you know?” he adds. That’s not to say that he hates the current preference for the limited series, though. “It’s a great format when it works,” he goes on. “It’s exciting. Then again, so are series.”

Asked if he’s ever been persuaded to dip a toe into the world of television, however, Anderson says that he hasn’t: “No one asks.”

“I’m just playing in my own corner of the sandbox,” he explains. “As a writer, I think we have fantasies when you struggle with editing material down: ‘I have so much material, perhaps this is a limited series.’ When in fact, no, it’s not, you just need to edit down your story.”

That leads Anderson to reflect on his ideal runtime for a film, saying that they’re “at their best” around the two hour mark. Of course, Anderson himself has exceeded this runtime on multiple occasions: There Will Be Blood is over two and a half hours long, while Magnolia comes in at a whopping three hours and eight minutes.

“I’ve missed that mark multiple times,” the filmmaker acknowledges in the interview. “But (two hours) is really the goal.”

Licorice Pizza stars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman (son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), alongside Bradley Cooper, Tom Waits, Sean Penn, and Uncut Gems director Benny Safdie. The story revolves around 20-something Alana Kane (Haim) and her relationship with teenage actor and entrepreneur Gary Valentine (Hoffman), in the San Fernando Valley of the 1970s. For the record, the runtime is pretty close to Anderson’s ideal, at two hours and 13 minutes.

The film will hit US cinemas for a limited release on November 26, followed by a wider release on December 25. It’s scheduled arrive in the UK on January 7, 2022. Watch the trailer below.