The Return of Cinema Intermissions?

Sounds like the title of another film franchise? It's actually one of the Dilemmas that appeared in our DilemmaMatch app recently. With the trend for longer and longer  films, find out what other moviegoers think about cinema intermissions…

Is it time to bring back the Cinema intermission?

Films nowadays don’t just feel longer and longer. They are. According to Business Insider, movies released in 2012 were 1.2 times longer than they were in 1992. But despite this trend, cinema intermissions have largely been scrapped, making a visit to the movies a test of endurance for many instead of a relaxing escape. Two hours into a film like Interstellar for instance and you realise there’s another 40 minutes to go, and well, nature calls…

And critics continually bring up length in their reviews. About The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Scott Tobias quips: “Spread out over three hours, The Wolf Of Wall Street is an exhausting experience, perhaps too much in tune with one of Belfort’s sleepless, drug-fueled benders.”

But even if we disregard the critics, we live in a world of YouTube clips, Instagram videos, and six-second Vines. Today's cinema creates an odd dichotomy: Movies are ever increasing in length, at a time when our attention span is apparently becoming shorter and shorter.

So is it time to bring back the cinema intermission?

History of the cinema intermissions

In cinema’s early days, intermissions allowed projectionists to change film reels. For most of the 1950s through 1970s intermissions marked epics, making them akin to a live theatre experience. And as time went on, having a break in the movie encouraged patrons to refill their popcorn, meaning more income for cinemas.

But with the surge of multi-plexes, pushing extra screenings onto the schedule has become more important than popcorn sales. As a result: cinema intermissions have largely become a thing of the past.

The benefits

So why bring back the cinema intermission? You could argue that besides the fact that cinemas need to fit in as many films as possible for financial reasons, a break in the middle of a gripping film kills the mood. But there’s a whole gamut of benefits to counter these arguments too.

Filmmakers gain the space to tell their story in two separate blocks, meaning they can restructure how long stories are told. Film critics, who watch films constantly, suffer less from movie-watching fatigue, and full bladders…..  And the re-introduction of an intermission lets moviegoers refresh their snacks – increasing the revenue for cinemas - and helps combat the problem of our dwindling attention spans.

So with that extra ten minutes, you might buy another coke, enjoy the whole movie, and not leave red-eyed and tired after three straight hours of full-sensory immersion. That sounds like a win for everyone. But what do others think? Find out for yourself - take a look at our great DilemmaMatch app for iOS or Android!

Cinema intermissions - time for a snack...