Is ‘Benjamin Button’ Too Long at Twenty Minutes?

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Photo: Courtesy of Paramount

Amid rumors of a battle with Paramount over the movie's purported three-hour running time, David Fincher screened twenty minutes' worth of his $150 million Oscar hopeful The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the Telluride Film Festival on Saturday. How'd it go? "It unfortunately wasn't that great," says FirstShowing's Alex Billington. "The result was quite unimpressive, but I'm left wondering whether it was the editor to blame for this 20 minute cut or whether the film really has problems." "There are moments of magic and wonder, but interrupted and surrounded by moments which had me questioning, 'Is this really the best footage he has?'" says /Film's Peter Sciretta. Equally underwhelmed was Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, who heard about it from some friends.

Variety's Anne Thompson blames blogger disappointment on the fact that they were forced to show minutes of bits and pieces of the film, rather than one long sequence, to make clear the passage of time (Button stars Brad Pitt as a man who ages backward). Still, though, if Fincher can't put together a decent twenty-minute montage from all his shot footage, doesn't that sort of undercut his argument that this movie needs to be three hours long? And will Paramount now ask him to trim the film from its current length to a more manageable sixteen or seventeen minutes?

Early Reaction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Footage [FirstShowing]
First Impressions on 20 Minutes of David Fincher’s Benjamin Button [/Film]
Earlier: ‘Benjamin Button’ to Be So Long That Time Moves Backward?