We have all experienced it: the tingling sensation in our back and legs, a need to use the restroom, or the urge to refrain from looking at our watch to determine how much longer the movie will last.
However, moviegoers are increasingly experiencing this phenomenon where longer movies are deterring them from attending screenings.
Over the past year, several highly-anticipated movies such as The Batman, Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, Oppenheimer, and Killers of the Flower Moon have all exceeded three hours in length (with the last one running for a staggering 206 minutes).
However, cinemas have decided to take action by reintroducing the 15-minute breaks that were once widespread in the UK until the early 1980s.
The cinema company Vue reports that showings of Killers of the Flower Moon, which feature an intermission, have been widely popular among viewers. Customers have expressed gratitude for the chance to take a break and use the restroom or walk around.
According to Vue’s CEO Tim Richards, our recent market analysis revealed that customers are interested in having intermissions again. We have received 74% positive feedback from those who have experienced our intermission so far.
Richards stated that Vue drew inspiration from a few UK operators during Oppenheimer. He believes that cinema is comparable to live theatre and other events such as sports and entertainment.
“There are few occasions left that require sitting in one place for extended periods of time. However, attending a spectacular theatre performance is an exception where the intermission enhances the experience. It offers a brief respite and builds anticipation for the rest of the show.”
According to Richards, both younger and older viewers enjoyed having breaks during the movie. He is optimistic that due to the favorable feedback, they will be able to incorporate intermissions more often in future films.
The move came as criticism of overlong runtimes continued to mount. This week, Sideways and The Holdovers director Alexander Payne criticised the phenomenon during an appearance at Middleburg film festival in the US. “You want your movie to be as short as possible. There are too many damn long movies these days,” he said.
Payne’s remarks were made during the debut of Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, though he did not specifically name any wrongdoers. Many critics have stated that the film would have been improved with a more concise edit. According to a review in the i newspaper, the excessive length of the film was its downfall.
Scorsese has strongly stood by the length of his film, arguing that it is comparable to watching a television show for five hours or a theatrical production for 3.5 hours. He believes that cinema deserves to be given the same level of consideration.
Taking the risk to produce a lengthy film often results in success – a majority of the top-performing movies of all time have a runtime of two to three hours (and every Academy Award winner for Best Picture has exceeded 90 minutes).
However, although lengthy films have been prevalent throughout the history of film, such as Titanic, Lawrence of Arabia, Gone With the Wind, Ben-Hur, or The Godfather II, they were once considered the minority. In modern times, it is not only critically acclaimed movies that exceed traditional screening times, but even superhero franchises.
According to the film website What to Watch, the average duration of the top 10 movies over the last five decades has increased from 110 minutes in 1981 to 141 minutes in 2022 and 131 minutes in 2021.
It is not unexpected that viewers have been eagerly anticipating the comeback of intermissions. In an article for the Guardian last year, Phil Hoad referred to them as “a remnant of a bygone era of civility.”
The speaker stated that reintroducing intermissions would not miraculously solve the decline of movie theaters caused by streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. However, in contrast to the inferior experience of watching movies at home with constant interruptions from social media, intermissions could potentially elevate the status of going to the cinema as a special and esteemed event.
Richards agreed with this sentiment, stating that the problem lies not in the length of films, but in improving the overall experience for moviegoers in theaters.
Many customers have expressed feeling intimidated by the length of Killers of the Flower Moon. I have received direct messages from numerous individuals and with 100 million people attending our cinemas, we have received a lot of feedback. However, once they learned that there was an interval, they decided to watch the film.
According to Richards, intermissions were a widespread practice in other markets such as Europe, Asia, and South America and they have always been in use.
Many of the most popular films in history have been lengthy. This is nothing new. Our goal is to offer options and ensure our customers have the best experience. Many of our customers enjoy taking a break for added comfort.
include “Gone with the Wind”, “Titanic”, and “The Sound of Music”.
A few of the most enduringly popular movies of all time are “Gone with the Wind,” “Titanic,” and “The Sound of Music.”
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