Standing ovations at film festivals: Do they really mean a movie is good?

We are nearing the end of the the 79th Venice International Film Festival and one thing people can’t seem to stop talking about (besides, of course, all the “Don’t Worry Darling” drama) is standing ovations.

The film “The Banshees of Inisherin,” starring Colin Farrell, received a lengthy, 13-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, beating out Baz Lurhmann’s “Elvis,” which had a 12-minute standing ovation earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, according to the A.V. Club.

Meanwhile, other films at the Venice Film Festival are getting some love too: “The Son” starring Hugh Jackman got a 10-minute ovation, Luca Guadingino’s “Bones And All” got 8.5 minutes, “The Whale” got 6 minutes and “Don’t Worry Darling” got a comparatively low 4 minutes.

Anywhere else, a four-minute standing ovation would be impressive. But excessively long standing ovations seem to be becoming the standard. And comparing the clapping time has become a way of gauging how good a film is, or at least how well it will do during awards season.

But are standing ovations times actually effective at reflecting how good a movie is?

The tradition of giving long standing ovations at film festivals has become an obligation, Shirley Li writes in The Atlantic. So the standing ovation may not actually reflect the audience’s feelings about the film, especially when the audience is filled with movie executives, directors and actors associated with the film.

Eric Kohn for IndieWire even went so far as to called ovation timing an “out-of-control hype tactic.”

To determine how reflective a standing ovation length is of a movie becoming successful, here are a few movies with exceptionally long standing ovations and whether the critic and audience reviews lived up to the hype.

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)

Ovation length: 22 minutes.

Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” holds the record for the longest standing ovation received at a film festival with a whopping 22 minutes. And with a 95% critic score and 91% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, as well three Oscars, the movie definitely lived up to the hype (though the jury’s still out on whether any movie deserves that long of a standing ovation).

“The Neon Demon” (2016)

Ovation length: 17 minutes.

With a 58% critic score and a 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s fair to say this movie did not live up to the hype of a 17-minute standing ovation.

“Elvis” (2022)

Ovation length: 12 minutes.

Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” divided critics and audiences. With a 78% critic score and a 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear that critics didn’t love the film as much as audiences did. The critical response to the film doesn’t seem to live up to the hype, but it’s still to be seen how well it does during awards season.