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Killers of the Flower Moon: Should cinemas bring back intermissions?

Martin Scorsese's newest masterpiece is 3 and a half hours long

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from Martin Scorsese's upcoming Apple Original Film, Killers of the Flower Moon. (Courtesy of Apple)
Some screenings for Killers of the Flower Moon will have an intermission. (Apple)

Killers of the Flower Moon is Martin Scorsese's latest epic, and the movie has a runtime of 206 minutes — or 3 hours and 26 minutes — which has led to some cinemas offering screenings with an intermission.

Vue cinemas has confirmed that it will have screenings for the film, which premieres on Friday 20 October, with a 15-minute interval during the screening.

Read more: Martin Scorsese reveals creative struggle after Taxi Driver: 'It depressed me a great deal'

This will give viewers a chance to stretch their legs, get a drink or snack, or even take a bathroom break if they so wish.

The cinema chain has said that any film fans to choose a screening with an interval should be aware, saying in a statement: "If you have chosen a screening with that displays interval, please factor a further 15 minutes into the running time of this screening."

Should cinemas bring back intermissions?

Intermissions in films aren't new to the world of cinema. Classics like 1939 film Gone with the Wind — which is a staggering four hours long — was screened with an intermission, and its DVD release was split between two discs with an intermission built in.

During the Golden Age of cinema through to the 1950s and 1970s, and less so in the 1980s, movies would have an intermission in cinemas to allow viewers the chance to take a break, and it was also used as a good way to drive business to a cinema's foyer.

Movies that had intermissions in cinematic history include Stanley Kubrick's iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, and Ben Hur.

Kino. VOM WINDE VERWEHT Gone with the Wind USA, 1939 Victor Fleming Scarlett O'Hara (VIVIEN LEIGH) und Rhett Butler (CLARK GABLE) Regie: Victor Fleming aka. Gone with the Wind / VOM WINDE VERWEHT USA, 1939. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)
Intermissions used to be the norm in cinematic history, 1939 movie Gone With the Wind is a four-hour movie that was shown with an intermission and also had one built into its home media releases. (Getty Images)

Killers of the Flower Moon charts the horrific true story of the Osage nation murders in the 1920s, where countless Native American people were killed after the community discovered oil on their land and became hugely rich as a result.

Centred on Leonardo DiCaprio's Ernest Burkhart and the romance between his character and Lily Gladstone's Mollie, the film examines the murders in a brutal yet honest way and tells the story from the Native American point-of-view after their experience was previously recorded in history only as the case to start the FBI.

Read more: The shocking true story behind Killers Of The Flower Moon

To that end, the film is set over several years to show the brutality that was inflicted upon the Osage Nation and this contributes to the length of the film's running time.

Scorsese has defended the film's length, saying in an interview with Hindustan Times: "Killers could play on a small screen, but in order to truly immerse yourself, you should take out the time.

Killers of the Flower Moon charts the horrific true story of the Osage Nation murders in the 1920s, and as it focuses on several years of history it has a long run-time (Apple TV+)
Killers of the Flower Moon charts the horrific true story of the Osage Nation murders in the 1920s, and as it focuses on several years of history it has a long run-time (Apple TV+)

"People say it's three hours, but come on, you can sit in front of the TV and watch something for five hours.

"Also, there are many people who watch theatre for 3.5 hours. There are real actors on stage, you can't get up and walk around. You give it that respect, give cinema some respect."

In age of social media and instant gratification, keeping focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time has become increasingly difficult as attention spans decrease — making it appear harder for viewers to sit and watch a long film like Killers of the Flower Moon.

However, recently there have been a range of long movies come to the big screen such as Oppenheimer, which is three hours long, Babylon, which is three hours and nine minutes long, and Beau is Afraid, which also has a three-hour runtime.

Cillian Murphy is J. Robert Oppenheimer in OPPENHEIMER, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. (Universal)
Christopher Nolan's war drama Oppenheimer is three hours long and was released in cinemas without an interval, it has gone on to earn over $925m at the box office. (Universal)

Oppenheimer became a global sensation alongside Greta Gerwig's Barbie, both films came out on the same day which created a cultural phenomenon known as Barbenheimer in the lead up to their release.

Christopher Nolan's biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, has done extremely well at the box office and earned over $925m worldwide.

It did this without an intermission, which indicates that film fans don't feel the need to have one — or at least that they are happy to sit and watch a long film.

But, perhaps if the intermission screenings for Killers of the Flower Moon prove a fruitful venture for Vue then it and other cinema chains might bring them back for good.

Killers of the Flower Moon premieres in cinemas on Friday, 20 October and it will be released on Apple TV+ at a later date.

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