Smoke Break

A globalized America deserves a globalized cinema.

Expanding our cinematic horizons can expose us to different artistic norms that have the ability to reinvigorate the viewing experience.

Emphasis on re-.

2023 has already seen two continent-traversing blockbusters burst onto the domestic stage: China’s The Wandering Earth 2 and India’s Pathan. And they brought along with them a bygone theatrical form: an intermission! Even though their runtimes are no longer than what Hollywood trots out regularly!

Actually, let me rephrase that: the movies are supposed to have an intermission.

But my screenings skipped them entirely! Even though the word “intermission” flashed onto the screen at the appropriate juncture! But instead of granting us this scripted opportunity for contemplation, conversation, and concessions, the break lasted all of seconds before immediately cutting to the next scene.


I understand theaters wanting to maximize their SPD — Showtimes Per Day, trickier with such durations — but would an extra 15 minutes really not come out in the wash of giving audiences another chance to double up on margin-friendly food-and-drink transactions?

And more importantly:

Eliding an intermission betrays the artist’s intent (example: this artificial jump upends the precise flow/pace/rhythm). Ideally, in addition to whatever other calculus goes into the decision, an intermission is there for artistic reasons.

So why are American theaters messing with art?

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