24 votes

Intermissions for modern movies - what are your thoughts?

It seems that movies are getting longer and longer nowadays, and some people (like me) are incapable of holding their bladder for more than 1.5-2 hours, especially when movie-theater-sized drinks are involved. So this got me thinking: is it time to bring back the movie intermission?

I'm curious:

  1. Are you for or against the idea of longer movies having an intermission? Why or why not?
  2. How do you think adding an intermission to the movies would affect the experience? And how might it affect the film industry and the films themselves?

20 comments

  1. [2]
    Eylrid
    Link
    It depends on the type of movie. Interrupting an intense action film would be jarring, but auteur films could make it work. Tarantino, for example, already breaks his movies into chapters. An...

    It depends on the type of movie. Interrupting an intense action film would be jarring, but auteur films could make it work. Tarantino, for example, already breaks his movies into chapters. An intermission could be an interesting device in a physiological thriller, if used properly. "Holy shit, I need I moment to process this."

    Intermissions would increase theater revenue by giving moviegoers another chance to buy concessions.

    13 votes
    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      When intermissions exist then auteurs will film movies with natural break points in which to have them. In Bollywood movies it used to be standard practice. They would even film a specific...

      When intermissions exist then auteurs will film movies with natural break points in which to have them.

      In Bollywood movies it used to be standard practice. They would even film a specific intermission scene to transition from film to break.

      6 votes
  2. [3]
    aphoenix
    Link
    I am not generally in favour of adding intermissions. I think adding an intermission would add a significant amount of "cruft time" to the movie going experience, which is already a significant...

    I am not generally in favour of adding intermissions. I think adding an intermission would add a significant amount of "cruft time" to the movie going experience, which is already a significant part of why I infrequently go to movies.

    I understand and appreciate that some people have issues, and I've missed many parts of movies while having to take my kids to the bathroom. It's not great, so we infrequently take our kids to the theatre, and elect instead to watch movies from our own home where we can pause things so that we don't miss out. I think that's a pretty acceptable solution, and when I do go to the movies, I accept that part of the contract is "I will spend this amount of time watching this movie and if I'm unable to do that, I am not fulfilling my part of this social contract."

    This touches on a broader topic of accessibility; I think accessibility is super important and I would love for more things to be more accessible, but I think it's also important to understand the feasibility and impact of accessibility on a broader audience, and to understand what the repercussions for the rest of the audience would be, especially for a business that relies on or assumes particular levels of ability.

    I think a solution that is workable would be for a multiplex to have a smaller theatres that have accessibility in mind. Something like:

    • Monday - lower stimulation / quieter movies
    • Tuesday - intermissions
    • Wednesday - colourblind friendly
    • etc.

    I realize that this comes with a reduction in availability; one could not necessarily partake in just any movie at any time. But I think it's a workable solution.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Tygrak
      Link Parent
      I don't think colorblind people have a problem with movies. At least I, as a moderate/strong deutan, don't think there ever was something in a movie that I missed out on because of colorblindness....

      I don't think colorblind people have a problem with movies. At least I, as a moderate/strong deutan, don't think there ever was something in a movie that I missed out on because of colorblindness. Of course that's just from my view point, I don't know if others would disagree.

      Hope I don't sound like an asshole. Thanks for your post and for thinking about colorblind people and about accessibility in general.

      1 vote
      1. aphoenix
        Link Parent
        While I'm not colourblind, I've had a friend miss details that were heavily colour related before, and I think with filters at home he picks up on those same details. I think it's generally a...

        While I'm not colourblind, I've had a friend miss details that were heavily colour related before, and I think with filters at home he picks up on those same details. I think it's generally a minor issue; colour isn't always the most important thing in a scene. But when it matters, it's often poignant.

        My main point was really just thinking of all the different accessibility needs and not just a few, and finding ways to make experiences viable for as many of them as is possible.

        And you don't sound like an asshole at all! More input is always good!

        2 votes
  3. Whom
    Link
    I grew up with a theater that kept intermissions far longer than the rest of the US. That's just how it was for me and I think the people worried about being jarred out of a film would just have...

    I grew up with a theater that kept intermissions far longer than the rest of the US. That's just how it was for me and I think the people worried about being jarred out of a film would just have to overcome a short period of adjustment. When it's the norm...I dunno, I never felt like it got in the way. You go to the bathroom, get some popcorn, and have a moment to either quietly sit with what's happened so far or discuss it if you have a group.

    It felt like a more complete experience than what we have now. I don't like the feeling of "walk in, watch the movie, now fuck off" that we have without intermissions. Theaters need to play up that movies are an event, and I think the extra moments to take it in help with that immensely.

    5 votes
  4. [5]
    Adys
    Link
    Kinepolis systematically does intermissions for movies here in Belgium. I guess I don't mind them, although they can take away from the experience IMO. If I'm going for the full-on movie theater...

    Kinepolis systematically does intermissions for movies here in Belgium. I guess I don't mind them, although they can take away from the experience IMO. If I'm going for the full-on movie theater experience I'd rather do the whole thing in one sitting. If I want the freedom to move around during the movie I'll watch at home.

    Also I hate to be "that guy" but, maybe don't drink movie-theater-sized drinks at the cinema. You'll save quite a bit of money, too.

    4 votes
    1. balooga
      Link Parent
      I don't think I'd appreciate intermissions much if they were inserted into movies that weren't designed for them. A lot of good filmmaking comes down to pacing and momentum. A screenplay can be...

      I don't think I'd appreciate intermissions much if they were inserted into movies that weren't designed for them. A lot of good filmmaking comes down to pacing and momentum. A screenplay can be written around an intermission and take that pause into account. But for the theater to insert an unintended pause after the fact seems disrespectful to the vision of the filmmakers.

      I don't have a strong opinion about intermissions themselves (they can be helpful in longer movies) but the decision to include one should be made by the director, not by the local cinema.

      6 votes
    2. [2]
      katontheroof
      Link Parent
      That's a good point, but even if I'm very careful and don't drink anything 1 hour prior to the movie AND don't buy soft drinks during the movie AND go to the bathroom beforehand, 2 hours is still...

      Also I hate to be "that guy" but, maybe don't drink movie-theater-sized drinks at the cinema. You'll save quite a bit of money, too.

      That's a good point, but even if I'm very careful and don't drink anything 1 hour prior to the movie AND don't buy soft drinks during the movie AND go to the bathroom beforehand, 2 hours is still a long time to go without a break. Maybe I've just got the bladder of a squirrel... but I can't be the only one... I know I'm not.

      It's interesting to know that intermissions are regularly done in Belgium. Do you know the specific reasons why they do it? How does the cinema decide where to pause the movie?

      5 votes
      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        I don't know how they choose it; I think they might systematically. The shortest film I watched there was "Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion" which has a runtime of 1h26min and it had an...

        I don't know how they choose it; I think they might systematically. The shortest film I watched there was "Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion" which has a runtime of 1h26min and it had an intermission.

    3. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. hamstergeddon
        Link Parent
        You can eat vegetables and enjoy the ice-cold refreshing taste of Coca-Cola though?

        You can eat vegetables and enjoy the ice-cold refreshing taste of Coca-Cola though?

        7 votes
  5. cardigan
    Link
    Art films should not have intermissions, particularly if they're works of "slow cinema." I've been to screenings of Lav Diaz films that run 8, 9, and 12 hours, all without an intermission as per...

    Art films should not have intermissions, particularly if they're works of "slow cinema." I've been to screenings of Lav Diaz films that run 8, 9, and 12 hours, all without an intermission as per his request.

    There's more to this than pretension. Atmosphere is integral to the experience of a work of art, especially those that are contemplative, and those which have an extended duration as one of their main qualities. With older films, you at least had a musical interlude to keep the "mood" of the piece going from segment to segment, but this was rarely successful. Segmenting a film breaks the spell, and lets too much of the everyday back inside.

    No one's expecting you to neglect yourself to sit through the whole thing. I recall an interview with Diaz where he stated that people could leave the theater to talk on the phone, or even go eat and come back so long as the film kept playing. This is an important point. The work must be allowed to be; our limitations as human beings aren't its concern.

    For blockbusters, it doesn't really matter. We can split those however we want, or better yet, not play them at all.

    4 votes
  6. Algernon_Asimov
    (edited )
    Link
    Just this weekend, I watched an old movie with an intermission. It was nice. I'm used to seeing theatre, where there's an interval halfway through most shows. The only issue I see with this in...

    Just this weekend, I watched an old movie with an intermission. It was nice.

    I'm used to seeing theatre, where there's an interval halfway through most shows.

    The only issue I see with this in movies is that it will encourage directors and writers to create a cliffhanger moment halfway through the film. That can be good or bad, depending how well it's done.

    EDIT: Typo.

    3 votes
  7. [3]
    loz
    Link
    Probably too expensive, but I think a good argument can be made for one or two small toilets within the theatre, with audio piped in.

    Probably too expensive, but I think a good argument can be made for one or two small toilets within the theatre, with audio piped in.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      katontheroof
      Link Parent
      Okay, so I have actually seen something like this online on one if those "amazing things from around the world" listicle. It would be absolutely amazing to have, but you're right that it'd...

      Okay, so I have actually seen something like this online on one if those "amazing things from around the world" listicle. It would be absolutely amazing to have, but you're right that it'd probably be way too expensive.

      2 votes
      1. Douglas
        Link Parent
        We have one in Portland, OR-- the Bagdad theater. You go use the restroom and can still hear the theater audio, it's SUPER convenient.

        We have one in Portland, OR-- the Bagdad theater. You go use the restroom and can still hear the theater audio, it's SUPER convenient.

        1 vote
  8. katontheroof
    Link
    It seems like most people are somewhat against the idea of inserting intermissions into movies that do not have one built-in, and I also hold this view to a certain extent. Pacing is important and...

    It seems like most people are somewhat against the idea of inserting intermissions into movies that do not have one built-in, and I also hold this view to a certain extent. Pacing is important and inserting an intermission might mess with that.

    Follow-up Question
    What are your thoughts on intermissions for movies based on plays/musicals/operas? The source materials for these kinds of movies traditionally include at least one intermission, but the movie adaptations routinely remove them.

    Edit: typos

    2 votes
  9. Hidegger
    Link
    My preference is generally to not have an intermission unless it is properly built into the film and there are parts to the film and it is a fairly long feature. I can only recall 2 intermissions...

    My preference is generally to not have an intermission unless it is properly built into the film and there are parts to the film and it is a fairly long feature.
    I can only recall 2 intermissions I've sat through; Planet Terror and Death Proof grindhouse break and Monte Python's joke intermissions. I remember the days of VHS and movies like Magnolia had 2 cassettes or a movie like Love Exposure that breaks into 3 distinct parts/chapters where a break wouldn't be a bad thing especially since they were both over 3 hours long.
    When I'm at the theater I generally don't buy concessions, way over-priced, and I don't need more than 2 minutes to take a piss which I have rarely needed to do during a film so it's not a big deal to me. Sitting around bored and waiting for time to pass for 10 or 15 minutes would bug me a lot worse than missing a couple minutes to pee.

    2 votes
  10. Litmus2336
    Link
    I don't personally like intermissions, but I think it makes sense for some matinees and a select number of evening shows to offer them, in the same way some movies have closed captioning, or have...

    I don't personally like intermissions, but I think it makes sense for some matinees and a select number of evening shows to offer them, in the same way some movies have closed captioning, or have special family friendly showings.

    1 vote
  11. mrbig
    Link
    I like them, given that the movie was made with an intermission in mind. They allow me to stretch my legs and take a leak without missing anything. When I come back, I feel mentally refreshed and...

    I like them, given that the movie was made with an intermission in mind. They allow me to stretch my legs and take a leak without missing anything. When I come back, I feel mentally refreshed and more able to enjoy the rest of the movie. It also creates a nice window for socialization, which discourages people from talking during the projection, since they can save their comments for the intermission.

    1 vote