You might have heard the term feature films being thrown around quite a bit.

But what exactly does it mean?

In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about feature films, and we'll even talk about a few of the most recent feature films to hit the big screen!

If you want to learn more about filmmaking 101. Here you will learn all of the basics of filmmaking!

What does a feature film mean?

A feature film means a full-length narrative film, typically featured in cinema, on streaming services, or on Blu-ray/DVD (yeah, that still exists).

The name feature film comes from when cinemas screened both long and short films and needed to distinguish the short films from the main attraction.

The feature film is essentially the film presented, promoted, and featured in the front of the cinema.

What is considered a feature film?

A feature film is any narratively driven film with a length of over 40 - 50 minutes, depending on who you ask. Typically most feature films run at least 80 minutes and typically cap at 180-240 minutes.

Furthermore, according to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, a qualifying factor for being considered a feature film is having had either a theatrical release or a similar digital release.

Feature film definition

A quick history rundown of feature films

In the beginning, feature films used to be considered the main event, wherever it was screened. That means that a documentary could be regarded as a feature film, and in fact, the first dramatic feature film didn't release until 1906.

It was the Australian film The Story of the Kelly Gang, which had a runtime of 60 minutes. It quickly became a worldwide affair, with feature films from Italy, France, Russia, the UK, and America released in the following years.

In 1927 the film The Jazz Singer became the first feature film released in sound, and soon it became possible to release feature films in color. The rest is history, literally.

Nowadays, feature films bring in millions, and millions of people to the cinema, to enjoy the different stories being told on the big screen.

To get a better idea of what a modern feature film is, we've listed 5 of the most popular feature films at the moment.

Popular feature films

1. Westside story

West Side Story is a feature film adaptation of the 1957 musical of the name. It is the second time a film adaptation has been made of it, with the first one released in 1961.

The film is directed by Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones, Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Post), and it stars Ansel Elgort (Divergent, The Fault of Our Stars, Baby Driver) and Rachel Zegler in her first film ever.

The film is about forbidden love between two teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds. In extension, the film explores the rivalry between two teenage street gangs.

The film is considered a musical film with a mixture of Crime and Drama. It was nominated for seven academy awards despite being considered a box-office flop. Part of that could be the musical nature, a genre that hasn't seen too much success in recent times.

2. House of Gucci

House of Gucci is a feature film based on the book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed from 2001.

The film is directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator, Alien, Hannibal). It stars Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born, American Horror Story), Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Marriage Story, Paterson), Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club, The Thin Red Line), Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers, Watchmen, The Man in the Iron Mask), and Al Pacino (The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, The Irishman).

The film revolves around the true story of the Gucci family and concerns all of the drama, intrigue, and tragedy that surrounds the eccentric family. The film is considered a Drama and Crime film and was nominated for 1 Academy Award.


CODA is a feature film based on the French film La Famille Bélier relesaed in 2014. CODA is an acronym for Child Of Deaf Adults..,

The film is directed by Sian Heder (Little America, Orange Is the New Black, The Path). It stars Emilia Jones (Brimstone, Youth, High-Rise), Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God, Picket Fences, The West Wing), Troy Kotsur (The Humber 23, Flash Before the bang, Universal Signs), and Daniel Durant (Switched at Birth, You, Silent Notes).

The film revolves around the kid Ruby Rossi who's the only one in her family with the ability to hear. Ruby has a hard time at school but finds solace in her newfound passion for singing.

Ruby becomes split between following her passion for music by studying at college and "abandoning" her culturally deaf family.

The film is considered a coming-of-age comedy-drama film and was released on Apple TV+ in 2021.

Feature films

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a feature film based on the Marvel Comics of the superhero. It is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which features an extensive array of popular superhero films.

The film is directed by Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones, Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Post). It stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cherry, Uncharted, The Devil All The Time), Zendaya (Euphoria, Malcolm & Marie, Space Jam: A New Legacy), Benedict Cumberbatch (1917, The Power of the Dog, Doctor Strange, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), and Jon Favreau (Chef, Iron Man, Solo: A Star Wars Story).

The film follows Peter Parker in the aftermath of events in its predecessor Spiderman: Far From Home. The film follows Peter and his friends as they try to solve the most recent crisis to reach New York City.

It features many well-known and beloved superhero characters, and it smashed the box office with a whopping $1.885 billion.

The film is considered a Superhero Drama film and was released as the third installment in the MCU Spiderman films.

5. Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza is a 2021 feature film based on the original script by Paul Thomas Anderson.

The film is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Inherent Vice, Punch-Drunk Love). It stars Alana Haim in her first film ever and Cooper Hoffman in his first film ever.

Licorice Pizza is based in 1973 and follows the story of 15-year-old Gary Valentine, who is quite the showman who gets a crush on the 25-year-old Alana Kane. The film follows their friendship and how it evolves through their various adventures.

Cooper Hoffman is the son of the legendary actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who sadly passed away in 2014. The two stars are both newcomers to professional acting. Alana Haim is a singer in the band HAIM alongside her sisters, who also feature in the film.

It is considered a coming-of-age drama film, and it was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Up next:. Go in-depth with short films

That's all you need to know about feature films. I hope you learned a thing or two!

If you want to learn more about films you can read our article on short films. Here you'll learn everything you need to know about the short film format.

What is considered a feature film?

Any narratively driven fictional film with a runtime of over 40 minutes.

Why is it called a feature film?

It is named after the film being promoted, marketed, and featured in a cinema.

What is the difference between a feature film and a movie?

A feature film has to be over 40 minutes long, whereas there are no runtime requirements for a movie.

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