Top 10 Most Epic Movies Over 3 Hours Long

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Top 10 Most Epic Movies Over 3 Hours Long

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
Sit back, relax, and prepare to have your mind blown for 3 straight hours! For this list, we'll be ranking the films that go all the way, flicks that demand your attention for over a hundred and eighty minutes. Our countdown includes "Titanic", "The Godfather: Part II", "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King", and more!
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Top 10 Most Epic Movies Over 3 Hours Long


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Epic Movies Over 3 Hours Long.

For this list, we'll be ranking the films that go all the way, flicks that demand your attention for over a hundred and eighty minutes. We might also be delving into spoiler territory here, so here's your official alert.

What are some of your favorite extra-long films? Sound off in the comments!

#10: "Avengers: Endgame" (2019)

There was only one way for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to go out: BIG. Comic book movies were already increasing their running time prior to "Avengers: Endgame" hitting screens, but not even the most rabid of Marvel fans were ready for its epic runtime. At 181 minutes, it does its very best to provide a satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Gauntlet Saga, which was no mean feat, given the wealth of characters who show up to do battle with Thanos, the Mad Titan. And, judging by the immense box office returns and acclaim from both fans and critics alike, it looks as if "Avengers: Endgame" was successful at this mission.

#9: "The Irishman" (2019)

Martin Scorsese is one of the few directors left with the sort of clout that dates back to the "New Hollywood" era of filmmaking, balancing artistic integrity with commercial success in a very unique way. Scorsese has made a career of crafting movies about New York City, organized crime and complex, occasionally flawed characters that take time telling their story. "The Wolf of Wall Street" was one such film, made in the traditional Hollywood studio setting. "The Irishman" proved that Scorsese could achieve the same sort of magic on Netflix. This moody and measured look into the disappearance of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa took a lot of time and money to get made, but the results were worth it, and audiences were captivated throughout "The Irishman's" three-plus hour running time.

#8: "Titanic" (1997)

Was James Cameron's "Titanic" historically accurate? Well, no, not exactly. But that didn't matter to audiences back in 1997, because this blockbuster was popcorn entertainment personified. And that's sort of why we give in to the embellishments Cameron and crew gave to the story of the Titanic's doomed voyage: we want to be swept away with the romance, action and humongous special effects. Many fans of a certain age may also remember the film's deluxe double VHS package during a time when that medium was slowly being phased out. It's a testament to why we as moviegoers are totally down for that extended sit....so long as the filmmakers make it worth the trip.

#7: "Gone with the Wind" (1939)

Some older films, for better or worse, fade out of the public consciousness, but "Gone With the Wind" continues to be a magnet for discussion and debate. There's no denying that this 1939 classic is long at over 234 minutes in its original, road show presentation with intermission, overture and ending music. There's also the controversy behind how "Gone With the Wind" adapts Margaret Mitchell's novel with regards to its depiction of slavery during the Civil War. Then again, actress Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Oscar for her supporting role as "Mammy" in the film, which makes it an important part of cinema history. "Gone With the Wind" also stands as the most financially successful film ever, when its profits are adjusted for inflation.

#6: "Spartacus" (1960)

Hollywood has a long history of going big with their Biblical epics and grand, historical spectacles. Cecil B. Demille's "The Ten Commandments" was so long, the TRAILER was over ten minutes, while our number six entry featured an A-list cast telling a legendary tale (xref). Kirk Douglas was already a major star prior to "Spartacus" giving him his career defining role, where he was joined by other acting legends like Tony Curtis, Peter Ustinov and Laurence Olivier in a production that approached two hundred minutes in length. It's the sort of production that we rarely see these days, although a line of inspiration can clearly be drawn from these classics to more modern examples like "300" or "Gladiator."

#5: Ben-Hur" (1959)

They simply don't make 'em like this anymore. "Ben-Hur" is cut from the same cloth (or is that Robe?) as "Spartacus": big budget Biblical epics that are the definition of an EVENT. This 1959 remake of a 1920s silent film was a blockbuster before the term was even used to describe this sort of spectacle. "Ben-Hur" not only created a defining role for Charlton Heston, it employed a cast and crew of thousands and boasted one seriously impressive chariot race. For a two hundred plus minute movie, "Ben-Hur" also moves along at an exciting pace, helped along by Miklôs Rôzsa rousing score. It’s essential viewing for any self-respecting movie buff.

#4: "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984)

For someone who only directed a small handful of films, Sergio Leone is one of the most influential men to ever work behind the camera. Leone's works simply DEFINED "epic." He was never a man to do anything in half measures, and his spaghetti westerns like "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" changed how the genre was viewed around the world (xref). His final film may not have been a western, but "Once Upon a Time in America" was just as influential, this time as a sprawling tale of organized crime in the United States. The film nears four hours in length, but never feels like a minute is wasted, with the acting, cinematography, music and direction achieving the sort of perfection that defined Sergio Leone throughout his enviable career.

#3: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003)

The 2000s were a good time to be a fantasy fan. It didn't matter whether you were into "Harry Potter" or Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, it was all about those epic tales of derring-do. "The Return of the King" in particular was a satisfying conclusion to Jackson's sojourn to Middle Earth, even if some fans goodnaturedly commented about the apparent dozen or so endings to the film. It's almost as if Jackson couldn't bring himself to leave this world in which he had spent so much time. Even with so many plot threads to tie up, the finale of "The Return of the King" still gives us all the feels years later.

#2: "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)

We've made mention of film scores quite a bit during this list, and with good reason, because epic film scores often play a huge role in the film’s success. "Lawrence of Arabia" was one of those films, with its composer Maurice Jarre creating some of the most memorable orchestral cues of all time. This isn't to say that director David Lean's World War I drama doesn't measure up to its reputation as one of the all time greats, because "Lawrence of Arabia" is called a classic for a reason. There's emotional depth, breathtaking scenery and a cast that includes Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif and Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Alec Guinness.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

"Zach Snyder's Justice League" (2021)
The Snyder Cut Is Unleashed

"Hamlet" (1996)
The Bard's Work Done Complete Justice

"Malcolm X" (1992)
Spike Lee Deep Dives Into this Biopic

"The Deer Hunter" (1978)
Michael Cimino's Defining Cinematic Statement

"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963)
Epic Length Comedy with a Cavalcade of Cameos

#1: "The Godfather: Part II" (1974)

Whoever heard about a case of diminishing returns? Not Francis Ford Coppola or any of the people behind one of the best sequels of all time, "The Godfather Part II." At 200 minutes, the film not only continues the story begun with Coppola's original adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel, it improves upon it. This is done via flashbacks to Vito Corleone's rise to power in Sicily, just as Michael Corleone's story continues in the present day. It's a film of violence, tragedy and complexity, filled with memorable characters and stories that, no matter how often we see them, continue to captivate us so many years later.
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