Cinema’s ongoing war against the human bladder continues this week, as THR reports that Apple Original Films and Paramount studios pushed back on independent theaters for inserting an unofficial intermission into Martin Scorsese’s new historical epic Killers of the Flower Moon. And while, on the one hand, it’s hard to criticize the studio’s demand that theaters not alter Scorsese’s vision by inserting a pause he didn’t want into his film (at least, the precedent it would set would be decidedly disturbing), on the other hand, the film is 216 minutesand we must recognize that it can become quite difficult, around minute 200, to contemplate the ugly banality of evil and greed when half your brain is calculating how many other filmmakers you’re going to have to juggle to get to the toilet right now. the generic.
It’s unclear how many theaters (all of which would be independent and not chain-based) took it upon themselves to insert the break. THR spoke to people in at least a few different movie theaters who have since abandoned the practice, after the film’s crew reminded them that unauthorized intermissions were a violation of the film’s licensing agreements. (An anonymous employee cited moviegoers who appreciated this respite, saying, “I wish we had had it during Oppenheimer. “)
The intermission has a long history, dating back to the theater, but the practice was mostly phased out in Western cinema by the mid-1960s. (Though Wes Anderson squeezed one in this year Asteroid City, although the film is only 105 minutes long.) They still represent a significant part of cinema in some countries, notably India, where most films have a built-in pause, and a number of Hollywood films have had them imposed by force. Interestingly, it was in a conversation with the Delhi-based Hindustan Times that Scorsese recently addressed the length issue himself, remarking: “People say it’s three hours, but come on, you can sit in front of the TV and watch something for five hours.” Additionally, many watch theater for 3.5 hours. There are real actors on stage, you can’t get up and walk around. You give it that respect, give respect to cinema.