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Blockbuster or bubble breaker? Why film breaks need to return – now! | movies

AAccording to Robert Pattinson, the key accessory of the new Batsuit wasn’t the batarang, bat lasso, or bat hook, but rather a Velcro-fastened flap that he could use to pee when needed. Not such an easy escape, however, for audiences of The Batman, who must display superhuman willpower and hear their loins for its 176-minute run. Given that it joins No Time to Die (163 minutes) and Avengers Endgame (181 minutes) in the ranks of recent blockbusters tossing the bubble-bursting three-hour limit, it’s about time this staple one another era of maximalist cinema: the pause?

It feels like a relic from a more civilized era. But with more franchises than ever embracing their sweet time, the break would be a welcome opportunity to use the bathroom, loosen up your legs and buttocks, and avail yourself of refreshments while chatting with fellow moviegoers about the semantics of grunge thinks in Batman. Extended runtimes have become so common that many franchises, like Avengers, The Hobbit, and It, began splitting unified stories into multiple parts anyway – effectively enforcing month-long pauses. So why not make it official and give us all a break whenever a movie hits the 150 minute mark?

However, the death of the pause has actually been greatly exaggerated: in Iceland, Switzerland, Egypt, Turkey and of course India, where films contain so much volcanic emotion, it still survives that a pause to cool everyone down is practically an audience health measure . Occasionally, they’ve returned in showcase screenings of modern Hollywood film to elevate the old-fashioned—as in Peter Jackson’s King Kong (187 minutes) or Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (187 minutes)—or simply out of fashion grace in Zack Snyder Justice League cut (242nd minute). But essentially, at some point some Hollywood analyst decided that a 10-minute break was incompatible with the modern multiplex’s “pack ’em in, six shows a day” production line.

1982’s Gandhi is often cited as the last great Western film with a break. This would be fitting, as this multiple Oscar winner was a remnant – in a world borrowed from the streamlined blockbuster machines introduced by Spielberg, Lucas and others – from the sprawling old-style epics that made their productions so secure parted like Charlton Heston did the Red Sea.

“Let’s all go to the lobby” Techn a 1957 Technicolor interrupt message. Photo: Filmack Studios

Originally, pauses were a legacy of theater and opera, although they had a technical justification in early cinema: to give the projectionist time to change really big roles. But in the 1950s and 1960s they became part of the deluxe theatrical experience that studios offered for widescreen epics like The Ten Commandments, Lawrence of Arabia and the original West Side Story to distract viewers from the young pretender, television. These behemoths were first wheeled out at “roadshow” performances in major cities, often with all the trimmings: overtures, performances, and intermissions that allowed weary bettors to hit the takeaways and get a Coke to see them through another two hours of war to bring gangs, endless desert wanderings or Egyptian plagues.

But 21st-century cinema now faces its own existential threat: streaming. No one is going to pretend that the return of pauses will suddenly reverse cinemas’ post-pandemic malaise in the face of Netflix, Disney+ and more. But compared to the seedy home TV experience that is interrupted every 30 seconds by social media, they could help boost the status of going to the cinema as a prestige event.

Over the past decade, it seems like movies have tried every gimmick — from 3D to Imax to immersive, secret cinema-style masquerades — to rejuvenate the nocturnal experience, but all of this comes at a price. Pauses could bring a sense of occasion and ceremony to today’s cold-eyed franchise lineup, subtly connecting to a more genteel era of filmmaking. That would be at no extra cost — and the extended hiatus would actually help boost snack sales, which already deliver the fattest profit margins.

They might even help blockbusters up their game. It’s a regular complaint of the CGI era that story – often retrofitted to include VFX sequences – takes second place. Under the yoke of these long runtimes, a kind of digital fatigue often sets in, where you suddenly can no longer distinguish one muddy monster smackdown from another. If pauses were a regular feature, it could force studios to think more about structure again – carefully modulating the rhythm of their script around the pause, and that’s what cliffhangers or other dramatic effects might produce.

Lawrence of Arabia, with Peter O’Toole and his Arabian buddies clutching the bit, hits the break with a chastising note from Claude Rains: “He rides the whirlwind! Let’s hope we’re not.” In Seven Samurai, some villagers are starting to think they can beat the bandits without all that extra help, but Takashi Shimura makes them give up just before halftime: “It’s the nature of war : By protecting others, you save yourself.” This is the pause that works intelligently: as an introspective turning point, a small fall before the big rise. With the snap, Marvel pulled off a true coup de théâtre to end Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos seemingly irreversibly finger-wiped half the population of the universe – and what a wonderful pause it would have made if Endgame had followed immediately.But that kind of boy feels like a rarity for their formulaic Lycra fests.

In truth, however, the return of the breaks seems about as likely as Batman smoking a bong. But maybe, just hypothetically, we can work out a gentlemen’s agreement with Hollywood: if you insist on stretching a comic youth to Tolstoy proportions, how about you do the decent thing and let us take our time, too ?

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