Cinemas have obviously struggled with methods to entice more people to come to the theater. Due to the ubiquity of streaming, in response to both people’s building reluctance to go to the cinema and the pandemic, theaters have recently tried everything from making the seats more comfortable, offering a wider range of food and beverages and implementing their own subscription services to make the evening in the cinema to feel “worth it” for patrons. Film studios and filmmakers are leaning towards gimmicks to enhance the experience, from the early 2010s 3D craze to filming in IMAX format. The problem with the studios’ attempts to commit to the film experience is that they require all the people who come to the theater to pay a fee for these gimmicks, and while some people may cough up the extra money to experience the film in its optimal form, many can not, let them choose either the suboptimal presentation of just waiting until it comes to their home.
One option that the studios have not tried is one that has already worked on making a film an “event” more than half a century ago, and that would include a break in their tent pole pictures. Pauses rose to prominence in the 1950s as part of roadshow presentations of the studio’s biggest films in an attempt to tear people away from their new television and proved to be a huge success. While the entire roadshow experience that had these film debuts in a very limited number of theaters around the country before gradually expanding may be financially unsustainable with today’s absurdly high budgets, the reintroduction of interimity has the potential to empower filmmakers, theaters, audiences, and the studies in one stroke.
Blockbuster movies show very few signs of limiting their maturities. Marvel, the current leader of the clubhouse, regularly releases films that hover around the 150-minute mark, with their most successful films, Avengers: Endgame (maybe you’ve heard of it), and clocks in at a full three hours. Many critics become frustrated with what they perceive as the Marvel formula, which pretty undeniably exists. At the end of some of these images, the audience can sometimes just get exhausted by the nonstop kinetism to the point where they check out of the film. If they were to start using interludes in their movies, the Marvel formula would require being shaken. Placing a ten to fifteen minute break in the middle of your film forces filmmakers to adjust how and when to build on specific story elements, typically designing a two- or five-act story instead of standard three. As opposed to just letting the audience have more with a post-credit teaser, they would have the option of building into a cliffhanger as the guide to the break, giving the audience a jerk of energy to speculate about waiting for the second half . A break allows for storytelling techniques that are regularly offered in theatrical performances and not cinematic, and breathes new life into something that every second the audience could find obsolete.
In terms of theaters, breaks provide an invaluable chance to do the one thing theaters really need to do: sell more concessions. Admittedly, there are people who are willing to miss a part of a movie to get a refill on their popcorn or get a sudden urge for a box of Reese’s Pieces, but open a significant window to give each person in the theater a perfect chance for any. double down on their concession purchases can increase concession sales significantly. Multiplexer originally helped squash roadshow presentations, with people more often going to the theater to see what was playing rather than going to a single movie. That culture made a dramatic turnaround due to more selective theater operations and online ticket purchases, so multiplexers now have to take more account of the amount of people who want to see something specific. Maximizing concessions is also the best way to directly impact the success of a cinema and can contribute to the overall improvement of theater operations.
The audience benefits in a number of ways from a break. Practically, one no longer has to stress over missing important scenes in a movie because they have to use the toilet. Although it may seem like a small thing, we have become so accustomed to the pause button on our remote controls that adequate preparation for not being able to use the bathroom for three hours can be difficult for many people, especially for those with medical treatment problems. This predetermined bathroom break allows the audience to relax a bit so they do not hold it inside the last hour of the movie and they are worried that they will not want the best part. In the same way, the break also makes these ever-growing maturities feel less intimidating. While many are completely content to watch seven hours in a row of a television program in one sitting, something about one large portion of three or so hours freezes people. With a break, a three-hour movie could instead be played more digestibly as two 90-minute episodes in the back to adapt to more modern viewing habits.
Also, breaks feel in a strange way fancy. They give us the impression that what we are seeing is so important that we just need a break in the middle to gather our thoughts. A short interlude for hobnob creates a special atmosphere that is currently exclusively possessed by the traditional theater. Instead of leaning over to the person you are helping to ask a question about what’s going on in the movie, you’ve set aside time to hash things out and check the temperature of everyone’s feelings about what you’ve all seen so far. . You also now have a time slot where using your phone for something becomes perfectly acceptable and does not distract from everyone else around you.
For the studios, films with breaks really only play as well as in theaters. At home, you would probably just skip ahead to the next episode of the movie, without worrying about the allotted break time, and continue to pause where you find it appropriate. All of these benefits require a movie theater, and in an era where theater theater becomes intimidating, the knowledge of not being able to replicate that experience at home on a streaming service may, however, slightly increase these ticket office numbers and further demonstrate future viability for that business.
In recent years, only Quentin Tarantino‘s western chamber piece The hateful eight embraced the break in some remarkable way. Tarantino chose to recreate the whole roadshow experience with an ouverture and entr’acte, souvenir programs and project it exclusively in 70 mm in a small amount of theaters. Later, the film expanded to wide release and eliminated all of these extra features, even that pause. While it was certainly a noble endeavor in that recreation, a western one-room was perhaps not the best test item for the spring on the film-holding public to see if this was a viable option, although the execution of these concepts was carried out quite well in The hateful eight.
To really measure how everyone would feel about this, it had to be something similar Black Panther: Wakanda Forever announces that it has a 185-minute playing time including a fifteen-minute break. Of course, this scenario is purely hypothetical, but if that announcement were made, would it not give the film a sense of grandeur and import to excite moviegoers? The successor to Black Panther is going to be a blockbuster phenomenon no matter what, but something like a high profile that takes a break successfully would undoubtedly open the door for more movies to take advantage of the format’s success, to the point where you can give movies that seems to be an event that is slowly being driven away from the cinema as the culture flattens out.
Some of the greatest movies ever made, from Lawrence in Arabia to West Side Story, feel just as magnificent as they are not just because of their size and scope on the screen, but because their spacing gives people time to digest what they have just seen and a time to breathe among what can be overwhelming epicness. Their unique cinematic structures allow them to stand out from the crowd of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of traditional three-act films. In a time of crisis for the film industry, it would be a success to take the chance to regain this tactic, even if it just worked half as well as in the 1950s and 1960s. Of course, there is always a chance that people slander the break, but you must be willing to at least try it first before you know its effect.
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