Feature film
In the film industry
Film industry
The film industry consists of the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking: i.e. film production companies, film studios, cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, distribution; and actors, film directors and other film crew...

, a feature film is a film production made for initial distribution
Film distributor
A film distributor is a company or individual responsible for releasing films to the public either theatrically or for home viewing...

 in theaters
Movie theater
A movie theater, cinema, movie house, picture theater, film theater is a venue, usually a building, for viewing motion pictures ....

 and being the main attraction of the screening, rather than a short film screened before it; a full length movie. The term is also used for feature length
Feature length
Feature length is motion picture terminology referring to the length of a feature film. According to the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a feature length motion picture must have a running time of more than 40 minutes to be eligible for an Academy Award.The term may also...

, direct-to-video
Direct-to-video is a term used to describe a film that has been released to the public on home video formats without being released in film theaters or broadcast on television...

 and television movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures...

, the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

, and the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to:-Cinemas:The BFI runs the BFI Southbank and IMAX theatre, both located on the south bank of the River Thames in London...

 all define a feature as a film with a running time of 40 minutes or longer. The Centre National de la Cinématographie
Centre National de la Cinématographie
Le Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée or CNC is a French agency of the Ministry of Culture, responsible for the production and promotion of cinematic and audiovisual arts in France, is a publicly owned establishment, with legal and financial autonomy.Created by law on 25 October 1946...

 in France defines it as a 35 mm film longer than 1,600 metres, which is exactly 58 minutes and 29 seconds for sound films, and the Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild
The Screen Actors Guild is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide...

 gives a minimum running time of at least 80 minutes. Today, a feature film is usually between 80 and 210 minutes; a children's film
Children's film
A children's film is a film aimed for children as its audience. As opposed to a family film, no special effort is made to make the film attractive for other audiences. The film may or may not be about children. In Unshrinking the Kids: Children's Cinema and the Family Film which is a chapter in In...

 is usually between 60 and 120 minutes. An anthology film
Anthology film
An anthology film is a feature film consisting of several different short films, often tied together by only a single theme, premise, or brief interlocking event . Sometimes each one is directed by a different director...

 is a fixed sequence of short subject
Short subject
A short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all...

s with a common theme, combined into a feature film.


The term "feature film" came into use to refer to the main film to be presented in a cinema, and the one which was promoted or advertised. The term was used to distinguish the main film from the short films (referred to as shorts) typically presented before the main film, such as newsreel
A newsreel was a form of short documentary film prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, regularly released in a public presentation place and containing filmed news stories and items of topical interest. It was a source of news, current affairs and entertainment for millions of moviegoers...

s, serial
Serial (film)
Serials, more specifically known as Movie serials, Film serials or Chapter plays, were short subjects originally shown in theaters in conjunction with a feature film. They were related to pulp magazine serialized fiction...

s, animated cartoon
Animated cartoon
An animated cartoon is a short, hand-drawn film for the cinema, television or computer screen, featuring some kind of story or plot...

s and live-action comedies and documentaries. These types of short films would precede the featured presentation - the film given the most prominent billing and running multiple reel
A reel is an object around which lengths of another material are wound for storage. Generally a reel has a cylindrical core and walls on the sides to retain the material wound around the core...

s. 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
Siegmund Lubin
Siegmund Lubin was a Polish-American motion picture pioneer.-Biography:He was born as Siegmund Lubszynski in Breslau, Silesia, Germany on April 20, 1851, to a German Jewish family...

 released a Passion Play
Passion play
A Passion play is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering and death. It is a traditional part of Lent in several Christian denominations, particularly in Catholic tradition....

 in January 1903 in 31 parts, totaling about 60 minutes. The French company Pathé Frères
Pathé or Pathé Frères is the name of various French businesses founded and originally run by the Pathé Brothers of France.-History:...

 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, such as The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight
The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight
The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight is an 1897 documentary film directed by Enoch J. Rector depicting a boxing match between James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons in Carson City, Nevada on St. Patrick's Day the same year. Originally running at over 100 minutes, it was the longest film that had ever been...


Defined by length, the first dramatic feature film was the Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n 70-minute film The Story of the Kelly Gang
The Story of the Kelly Gang
The Story of the Kelly Gang is a 1906 Australian film that traces the life of the legendary bushranger Ned Kelly . It was written and directed by Charles Tait. The film ran for more than an hour, and was the longest narrative film yet seen in Australia, and the world. Its approximate reel length...

(1906). Similarly, the first European feature was the 90-minute film L'Enfant prodigue (France, 1907), although that was an unmodified record of a stage play; Europe's first feature adapted directly for the screen, Les Misérables
Les Misérables (1909 film)
Les Misérables is a silent film based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo.-Cast:* William V. Ranous – Javert* Maurice Costello – Jean Valjean* Hazel Neason* Marc McDermott...

, came from France in 1909. The first Russian feature was Defence of Sevastopol
Defence of Sevastopol
Defence of Sevastopol is a 1911 historical war film about the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War and one of the most important films in the history of Russian cinema...

in 1911. The first UK features were the documentary With Our King and Queen Through India
With Our King and Queen Through India
With Our King and Queen Through India is a British documentary. The film is silent and made in the Kinemacolor additive color process....

(1912), filmed in Kinemacolor
Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1914. It was invented by George Albert Smith of Brighton, England in 1906. He was influenced by the work of William Norman Lascelles Davidson. It was launched by Charles Urban's Urban Trading Co. of...

, and Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

(1912). The first American features were a different production of Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

(1912), From the Manger to the Cross
From the Manger to the Cross
From the Manger to the Cross or Jesus of Nazareth is a 1912 American motion picture filmed on location in Palestine which tells the story of Jesus' life. Directed by Sidney Olcott who also appeared in the film, actress and screenwriter Gene Gauntier wrote the script and portrayed the Virgin Mary...

(1912), and Richard III
Richard III (1912 film)
Richard III is a 55-minute film adaptation of Shakespeare's play, starring Frederick Warde as the title character. The film, a French/U.S. coproduction, was produced by Film d'Art and released through the independent states rights film distribution system...

(1912), the latter starring actor Frederick Warde
Frederick Warde
Frederick Barkham Warde was an English Shakesperian actor who relocated to the United States in the late 19th century.In the late 1870s he partnered with actor Maurice Barrymore and the two agreed to tour plays around the United States. Warde would have one section of the country while Barrymore...

. The first Asian feature
Asian cinema
Asian cinema refers to the film industries and films produced in the continent of Asia, and is also sometimes known as Eastern cinema. More commonly however, it is used to refer to the cinema of Eastern, Southeastern and Southern Asia. West Asian cinema is sometimes classified as part of Middle...

 was Japan's The Life Story of Tasuke Shiobara (1912), the first Indian feature
Cinema of India
The cinema of India consists of films produced across India, which includes the cinematic culture of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. Indian films came to be followed throughout South Asia and...

 was Raja Harishchandra
Raja Harishchandra
Raja Harishchandra , is a 1913 silent Indian film directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke, and is the first full-length Indian feature film...

(1913), 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). 1913 also saw China's first feature film, Zhang Shichuan's Nan Fu Nan Qi.

By 1915 over 600 features were produced annually in the United States. The most prolific year of U.S. feature production was 1921, with 682 releases; the lowest number of releases was in 1963, with 213. Between 1922 and 1970, the U.S. and Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 alternated as leaders in the quantity of feature film production. Since 1971, the country with the highest feature output has been India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, which produces a thousand films in more than twelve Indian languages
Languages of India
The languages of India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-European languages—Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages...

each year.
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