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Author Topic: Intermissions in 2017
Marcel Birgelen
Film God

Posts: 2610
From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 09-04-2017 08:39 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Having visited quite a lot of cinemas over the last decades in several roles, one thing that keeps intriguing me is something as simple as the Intermission.

The times where an intermission is a technologically necessity have long since passed (maybe with the exception of selected extra-long 15/70 runs), also with a few exceptions, Hollywood hasn't released features with intermissions for decades now.

Still, the intermission isn't dead yet. In Indian cinema, the intermission is still a part of almost every Bollywood release for example.

While most multiplex operations have eliminated the intermission entirely, seemingly to pack more shows into the same auditorium and to avoid patrons jumping shows, there are still many cinemas around this globe inserting intermissions into the features they show. This seems to be primarily rooted into local customs and expectations of the local patronage.

So, I was wondering, why not do a little "questionnaire", to get some idea of what the status of the intermission is in 2017. Below some of the questions I have, in a somewhat random order. Feel free to answer or ask new ones.

* Do you have intermissions?
* Did you have intermissions at one time but stopped with the habit? And why did you stop?
* Do you show intermissions for all shows? If not, what are the criteria?
* Why do you have intermissions? Is it, for example, because it's a local habit?
* What do you think about intermissions? Does it for example unnecessarily disrupt the movie? Or does it help to keep the room silent, because people can go to the toilet and have a little chat about the movie, without disturbing anywone?
* Does it help your bottom line, as in, do you sell more concessions?
* Since most movies don't come with an intermission and most also not with an advice for an optional intermission, how do you determine the best time to start an intermission?
* What do you think is a good duration for an intermission?
* Do you close the curtains during an intermission?
* Do your customers expect you to have an intermission in the show?
* Have people ever asked if your shows have intermissions?
* Have people complained about your shows (not) having intermissions?
* Have you ever checked your contracts with the studios and what they have to say about intermissions?

Well, I could go on for a while, but let's not do that. [Wink]

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Steve Kraus
Film God

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From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000


 - posted 09-04-2017 10:02 AM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You may not be allowed to add intermissions here. One would have to consult the master contracts signed with each studio. Otherwise, if the movie is even slightly longish I could see where having one would add to concession sales especially on titles playing in two or more auditoria where there are already ample showtimes for patrons to choose from.

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 09-04-2017 10:42 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Arthouse theatre. No intermissions here, unless incorporated into the film. There was an "intermission" for Weiner Dog, but that was a joke in the film. Most films we show not long enough to merit an intermission (though Toni Erdmann could have used one).
When we were full time 35mm, if one of the projectors was down we would have a break in the middle of the film to thread up the second half. Our audience never complained, and many for thankful for the "potty break."

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Matt Smith
Film Handler

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From: Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, England
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted 09-04-2017 10:50 AM      Profile for Matt Smith     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We usually only have intermissions on Bollywood films or sometimes the encore performance of theater, ballet or opera showings.

The latter usually put a whole intermission including hold card and a countdown in the middle of the DCP and give you the timings to turn the lights up and down...usually!

Bollywood features are split into two CPLs and we play a 10 minute intermission between them. I notice sometimes that part 1 will be an hour and a bit and part 2 will be 50 minutes, not really a length that demands an intermission but the audience has come to expect it. Not sure why you would try and play it without an intermission since the audience come out and top up on concessions.

We did have a Bollywood this week that was all one CPL but they had put an intermission hold in the middle (only 8 seconds) and you were expected to pause on it. The film was 2 hours 40 minutes so I just put a Dolby intermission in the playlist, would have been total anarchy if not!

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Carsten Kurz
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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 09-04-2017 11:10 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In Switzerland, it's a countrywide regular habit to have intermissions. Patrons expect to have a glas of wine or champagne and some chat.

- Carsten

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Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

Posts: 3664
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 09-04-2017 03:07 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
In the US, the exhibitor's Master License Agreement with each studio will state something like:

quote: I can't believe this was published to the internet
Exhibitor shall exhibit the Picture without alteration or intermission, on the Screen Auditorium identified in the Booking Confirmation on consecutive days on each performance of every day stated herein from the actual hour of the opening of the theatre to the actual hour of the theatre closing.
quote: Thank you Wikileaks
Licensee may not, without Licensor's prior written consent, add or interpolate material to, edit or eliminate material from, or in any way alter, or authorize any third party to alter, any Materials. All Material shall be exhibited in its entirety, in its original continuity of subject and in the identical form in which each such copy is delivered to Licensee and/or otherwise legally obtained.

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 09-04-2017 03:29 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think any movie 135 or more minutes ought to have an intermission. I can see the whole "pack more showtimes into a day" argument but I would bet the customer satisfaction combined with more concession sales would easily make up for the lost revenue from eliminating an early afternoon or late evening show.

In the film days, I knew one operator who owned three single-screen theaters who had an intermission in every movie. He would just run the first three reels and put the intermission after the third reel. He said his patrons loved it. (He's now deceased and his theaters are operating under a new company sans intermissions.)

We have never had intermissions unless they're built-in.

If we had a curtain, I'd close it during an intermission. As it is, we have "curtain lights" which come on anytime the screen is blank for more than a couple seconds.

I can't even remember the last current-release movie we had that had an intermission in it.... all intermissions we've had lately have been in old movies, like most recently "The Cowboys" and in past years, "Gone with the Wind," "Ben-Hur" and "The Ten Commandments."

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 09-04-2017 06:05 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's interesting to read those passages in the master contracts. Similar clauses are in the master contracts I've seen around here, yet there are quite a few theaters around that do insert intermissions. Seemingly, the studios don't really mind you doing it. I've never heard about a studio filing an informal or formal complaint or even going so far as threatening with legal action or contract termination.

In several cinemas, even multiplexes in the Netherlands and Germany there are intermissions for extra long features (e.g. anything in excess of ~140 minutes). I guess most people are grateful for that. Also, it's a great way to make up for the extra length of the movie with some additional concession sales.

For normal features, intermissions are almost extinct around here, but there are the occasional anomalies.

In the southern part of the Netherlands and the eastern part of Belgium, almost all cinemas, even most of the international chains do have intermissions in all their movies. It's a pretty localized habit and "foreigners", even those from a mere 70 miles away are often pretty bemused by the phenomenon.

About 20 years ago, most small town cinemas I visited in Great Brittan still had intermissions in all shows, although they were already gone by then in the big cities.

quote: Mike Blakesley
In the film days, I knew one operator who owned three single-screen theaters who had an intermission in every movie. He would just run the first three reels and put the intermission after the third reel. He said his patrons loved it.
It was common practice around here in the 35mm days to put an intermission after the third reel, or in some rare cases after the second or fourth.

At least most reel transitions also do coincide with some kind of scene change in the movie. While the timing could still be hit and miss, it was generally acceptable.

Once the transition to digital was made, they didn't really have such a pointer, so ever since, the timing of the intermission is a real hit and miss.

There is one local chain that really beats it all in this regard. They simply hit pause on all their screens simultaneously via a remote trigger. No matter if it's in the middle of an intense car chase scene and the wheels of the car being chased don't even touch the ground yet.

quote: Mike Blakesley
I can't even remember the last current-release movie we had that had an intermission in it.... all intermissions we've had lately have been in old movies, like most recently "The Cowboys" and in past years, "Gone with the Wind," "Ben-Hur" and "The Ten Commandments."
Apparently, there is a version of The Hateful Eight with an intermission. I'm not sure if it was ever released as a DCP though. I also remember the 2005 version of King Kong having a version with an intermission. Also, the 3D 15/70 re-release of Titanic (1997) had an intermission, also partly due to technical constraints.

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Gordon McLeod
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From: Toronto Ontario Canada
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 - posted 09-04-2017 06:10 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In th days of film theatres using tower transport had to have a intermission due to the limited capacity the 3' reel could hold

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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From: Annapolis, MD
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 - posted 09-05-2017 06:53 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
Apparently, there is a version of The Hateful Eight with an intermission. I'm not sure if it was ever released as a DCP though.
The "roadhshow" version of H8 on DCP did have the intermission card. This DCP was supposed to just be for the theatres that had 70mm and to be used as a backup in the event of a film related failure.

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Dave Bird
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From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
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 - posted 09-05-2017 10:34 AM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We have them of course at the drive-in, as every night is a double or triple feature. I realize that's not quite the question here, you're contemplating doing it in the middle of one film, but for sure it helps concession sales greatly. Depends on the films of course, if you have a program which holds more of the family audience for a second film, that bumps it quite a lot, but just anecdotally from me looking at the "percaps" after the first show starts and then after the second, I'd say we bump up 20-25% by having it.

The mythical "Paradiso" in NZ apparently does an intermission every movie where fresh cookies are served. I have a staffer who spent a season in that town, and she claims there's hardly a patron who doesn't buy during the intermission there.

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Scott Norwood
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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
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 - posted 09-05-2017 05:59 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
On the topic of recent-ish films with intermissions, Gods and Generals comes to mind--there was an actual intermission reel with a title card that was supposed to stay on screen during the intermission.

Otherwise, Hateful Eight, of course. I believe that there was a rumor that there would be one in LOTR-Return of the King, but it was not released that way, at least in the US.

I know that this wasn't part of the original question, but drive-ins typically do an intermission between features. Usually, they have some trailers, a short, and a countdown clock. Most drive-in intermissions that I have seen run for about twenty minutes.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 09-06-2017 04:18 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Technically, I think an intermission between two main features should count as "intermission", since it's part of the same show. [Wink]

The double feature is an almost unknown phenomenon around here, with the few exceptions of those "marathon screenings", where you get to see the sequel(s) before the new attraction or some specialty "film week" events, where you can "binge watch" movies at greatly reduced prices.

It's too bad Hollywood and the film industry in general focuses almost solely on the "full feature" releases, I would love to see some "new" formats, where you would get to see two separate features of roughly 60 minutes in length for example. I'm afraid such a format would not really be a hit with the general public though.

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Rick Raskin
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 - posted 09-06-2017 05:33 AM      Profile for Rick Raskin   Email Rick Raskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Remembering GWTW, there was an intermission reel that played music during the intermission.

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Terry Monohan
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 - posted 09-11-2017 11:03 AM      Profile for Terry Monohan   Email Terry Monohan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Intermissions in the 50's and early 60's were great. Loved the old popcorn/candy ads ect. This was a great time to go out to the lobby and get some snacks. Today the average movie people run so late, plus short staff selling tickets/drinks and food, they barely get in and find a seat numbered in the dark plus they miss most of the trailers and disturb everyone the first 15 minutes of the opening of the movie. If they ran some sort of a intermission now on a long movie the same people would run late in the lobby/bathroom and cause problems getting back to their reserved seats. The kids that work at cinemas now would not know where to cut a movie break, they would just cut it up in the middle. No nice trailer that says 'Intermission Time' or curtains that close. Old Ray Syufy at his Century Domes in San Jose in the late 60's tried to cut films for a candy intermissions $ and got in trouble from the movie people.

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