Discussion: Are movies too long? Should cinemas bring back intermissions?

With the much-debated length of Scorsese’s newest, Killers of the Flower Moon, would it be time to re-introduce intermissions at the movies?

Last Updated on October 27, 2023

killers of the flower moon

Whether they’re smaller independent movies or big studio franchise blockbusters, filmmakers have recently been on a kick of indulging in extended lengths for their films. There have been a slew of stories in the past years reporting on the long runtimes of upcoming releases. Whenever you see headlines like, “John Wick: Chapter 4 is longest in the franchise,” or “Fast X sports the largest runtime of the series,” or “Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is said to be 3 hours long,” or “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part I is said to be the longest installment yet,” does it excite you? Does it worry you?

The latest example is Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon exceeding well beyond three hours. The Journal recently published a poll asking their readers, “How long is too long for your experience at the cinema?” Scorsese has managed to sidestep runtime criticism with his recent nearly four-hour gangster epic, The Irishman, thanks to the convenience of streaming on Netflix. Viewers can watch at their own comfortable pace, and there have even been fan suggestions on how to watch The Irishman as a mini-series.

Although Killers of the Flower Moon will come to AppleTV, Paramount has given the acclaimed film a theatrical run that includes IMAX screenings. Scorsese has defended his vision, citing that people sit for hours on end binging on episode after episode of streaming content and people should pay the same respect to cinema. James Cameron would make the same argument when he was inquired about Avatar: The Way of Water‘s runtime exceeding that of the first film. Judd Apatow, whose comedy films would often sport unusually lengthy runtimes, once defended his decisions by stating that he would want to be allowed the time for his characters to build within his character studies.

Hollywood has a history of presenting their films with a large runtime by breaking up the pace with intermissions to allow the audience to breathe as if it were a three-act play. Even if films are immaculately made and connect with the audience, if the story seems to drone on and on, it can hinder the enjoyment of the film and ruin the viewing experience. If filmmakers wish to continue indulging in over three-hour lengths, would an intermission help you digest the movie better? If audiences are allowed to stretch, take a bathroom break, refill snacks or drinks without missing a minute, they also would not have to worry about missing a key plot point. Heck, if people are allowed to check their phones at intermission, it could also hopefully mean less phone activity during the movie.

What do you think? How important are the runtimes of films to you? Would you welcome intermissions?

Source: The Journal

About the Author

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.