Martin Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon' is so long that some theaters are pausing the three-and-a-half-hour epic for bathroom breaks — and it's divided moviegoers

Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon."
Martin Scorsese's 206-minute epic "Killers of the Flower Moon" is now playing in theaters.AppleTV+
  • Martin Scorsese's 206-minute epic "Killers of the Flower Moon" is now playing in theaters.

  • Unbeknownst to the filmmaker or its distributor, Paramount, some theaters have added intervals, per Variety.

  • Some have condemned the practice, but to the weak-bladdered, it's a welcome addition.

Martin Scorsese did not include an intermission in "Killers of the Flower Moon," but that hasn't stopped some movie theaters from inserting one, leading to a debate over whether built-in breaks during long movies should be introduced.

The film, based on an acclaimed nonfiction book of the same name and stars Leonardo DiCaprioLily Gladstone, and Robert De Niro, was released globally and in US theatres on October 20.

Clocking in at 206 minutes, it's among one of the longest blockbusters released over the last year. "The Batman," "Avatar: The Way of Water," "Babylon," and "Oppenheimer" all passed the three-hour runtime mark, and it seems that moviegoers — or at least movie theaters — have decided to do something about it.

Several theatres took matters into their own hands and added intermissions

According to a recent Variety report, a small number of theater venues out of the 10,000 globally showing "Killers of the Flower Moon" sold tickets to screenings that feature a break halfway through.

UCI Cinemas, a European theater, confirmed to the outlet that in nearly all of its venues, the film is paused for a six-minute interval, while UK chain Vue has listed screenings with a 15-minute intermission, akin to those offered for stage plays and musicals.

Until October 26, The Lyric, an independent theater in Colorado, was advertising to patrons that its screenings included an eight-minute intermission, but it was forced to stop after being contacted by Paramount and Apple Original Films, per Variety.

JaNae Collins, Lily Gladstone, Cara Jade Myers and Jillian Dion in "Killers of the Flower Moon."
JaNae Collins, Lily Gladstone, Cara Jade Myers and Jillian Dion play sisters in "Killers of the Flower Moon."AppleTV+

Scorsese has passionately defended the runtime of his film, stating in an interview with The Hindustan Times earlier this month: "People say it's three hours, but come on, you can sit in front of the TV and watch something for five hours." The film's editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, told The Evening Standard on Friday that it's a "violation" to insert the breaks as it means the theaters are not showing the movie as intended.

Representatives for UCI Cinemas, Vue, and the Lyric did not respond to Insider's request for comment, made outside regular working hours. Neither did representatives for Scorsese, Paramount, and Apple Original Films.

To some online fans, intermissions are a welcome addition

However, not everyone agrees, and some media users think including intermissions to allow the audience to stretch their legs, visit the restroom, and generally take a break is a good idea — especially if you're spending a whole afternoon or evening inside a movie theater.

One X user said: "Perhaps my most controversial opinion, but if your film is more than 2.5 hours long, it needs an intermission. Human beings have bladders and movie theater concession stands will sell more tickets and also more drinks/snacks if people know they won't have to miss anything."

Another wrote: "It's either intermission or I miss some of the movie pick one!"

But not all were sympathetic to the weak-bladdered, with another X user writing: "Hot take: If you're a grown adult, you should be able to sit for 3.5 hours without needing an intermission. Plan ahead."

Martin Scorsese at the premiere of "Killers of the Flower Moon" held at the Dolby Theatre on October 16, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Martin Scorsese defended the runtime of his film earlier this month.Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

However, others pointed out that intermissions were once standard practice in movie theaters, so it's a case of reintroducing them.

The criticism of overlong runtimes has been growing for some time. The same week "Killers of the Flower Moon" was released, "The Holdovers" director Alexander Payne said during an appearance at the Middleburg Film Festival that he felt fatigued from the long movies that recently came out.

"You want your movie to be as short as possible," Payne said, according to IndieWire. "There are too many damn long movies these days."

Among audiences, the trend of ballooning runtimes has inspired the app RunPee, which advises users on the best time to relieve their bladder during a movie so they don't miss any important action.

According to its listing on the Apple App Store, the app's "database is updated weekly with the latest movies so you will know the best times to run and pee, without missing the best scenes." So if your local theater isn't showing "Killers of the Flower Moon" with an intermission, that might be your best option for working out when to excuse yourself.

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