Feature film

In the film industry, a feature film is a film made for initial distribution in theaters and being the "main attraction" of the screening (as opposed to any short films which may be screened before it).

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, [ [http://www.oscars.org/79academyawards/rules/rule02.html 79th Academy Awards Rules] , Rule 2: Eligibility.] the American Film Institute, ["The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures".] and the British Film Institute [Denis Giford, "The British Film Catalogue".] all define a feature as a film with a running time of 40 minutes or longer. The "Centre National de la Cinématographie" in France defines it as a 35 mm film which is longer than 1,600 metres, which comes out to exactly 58 minutes and 29 seconds for sound films, and the Screen Actors Guild gives a minimum running time of 80 minutes. [ [http://www.sag.org/Content/Public/LOWBUDGET2005WM.pdf Screen Actors Guild Letter Agreement for Low-Budget Theatrical Features] .] Today, a feature film is usually between 80 and 210 minutesFact|date=February 2008; a children's film is usually between 60 and 120 minutesFact|date=February 2007. An anthology film is a fixed sequence of short subjects with a common theme, combined into a feature film.

The term evolved from the days when the cinema-goer would watch a series of short subjects before the main film. The shorts would typically include newsreels, serials, animated cartoons and live-action comedies and documentaries. These types of short films would lead up to what came to be called the "featured presentation": the film given the most prominent billing and running multiple reels. There was no sudden jump in the running times of films to the present-day definitions of feature-length; the "featured" film on a film program in the early 1910s gradually expanded from two to three to four reels.

Early proto-features had been produced in America and France, but were released in individual scenes, leaving the exhibitor the option of running them together. The American company S. Lubin released a Passion Play in January 1903 in 31 parts, totalling about 60 minutes. The French company Pathé Frères released a different Passion Play, "La Vie et la passion de Jésus Christ", in May 1903 in 32 parts running about 44 minutes. There were also full-length records of boxing matches.

Based on length, the first feature film was the 70-minute film "The Story of the Kelly Gang" (1906) from Australia. The first European feature was the 90-minute film "L'Enfant prodigue" (France, 1907), although that was basically an unmodified record of a stage play; Europe's first feature adapted directly for the screen, "Les Misérables", came from France in 1909. The first Russian feature was "Defence of Sevastopol" in 1911. The first UK features were the documentary "With Our King and Queen Through India" (1912), filmed in Kinemacolor, and "Oliver Twist" (1912). The first American features were a different production of "Oliver Twist" (1912), "From the Manger to the Cross" (1912), and "Richard III" (1912), the latter starring actor Frederick Warde. The first Asian feature was Japan's "The Life Story of Tasuke Shiobara" (1912), the first South American feature was Brazil's "O Crime dos Banhados" (1913), and the first African feature was South Africa's "Die Voortrekkers" (1916).

By 1915 over 600 features were produced annually in America. The most prolific year of U.S. feature production was 1921, with 854 releases; the lowest number of releases was in 1963, with 121. Between 1922 and 1970, the U.S. and Japan alternated as leaders in the quantity of feature film production. Since 1971, the country with the highest feature output has been India. [Patrick Robertson, "Film Facts", New York: Billboard Books, 2001, p. 15.]

ee also

*Best movies
*Feature length - a term used to refer to long films not made for theatrical distribution

References


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