question about intermissions

Discussion in 'Movies' started by george kaplan, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    On all of the dvds I have with intermissions complete with music, the intermission only lasts about a minute or two.

    Now presumably the purpose of these theatrically was to give people time to go to the restroom or lobby for popcorn. That could hardly be done in the time that these dvd intermissions run.

    So, there are 3 possibilities, and I'm curious as to which it is:

    a) the intermissions really were that short

    b) the intermissions were longer, and what we're getting on the dvds is cut down

    c) the intermissions were longer, but most of the intermission was without music, which is as on the dvds, so what is 'missing' from the dvds is an extended quiet time with the lights on during intermission

    Any information about this is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    When I saw Lawrence of Arabia in a theater last fall, with intermission, it was option (c).
     
  3. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    Ghandi had an intermission of 15 minutes, though most of it was without music, if I remember (been a while).
     
  4. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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    C
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    That's what I figured, but never having seen any of these films theatrically, I wasn't sure.

    Thanks for the info!
     
  7. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    I would imagine that one of the things it allowed for was the projectionist to get a breather, and a chance to reorganize the projection booth.

    Remember at this time, the vast majority of films were shown alternating between two projectors. If you had a Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm, you're probably looking at 14 2000' reels of film. If that's the case (as opposed to 28 1000' reels,) you've got 16 minutes to pull the spent reel #1 off of projector 1, clean the film path, replace the carbons, and thread reel #3, before reel #2 tails out on projector #2.

    An intermission might be required to save the projectionists lift! I'd estimate a 2000' reel of 70mm film to weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 pounds.

    Now it's not beyond the realm of possibility that 70mm would run off of 1000' reels... which would mean a reel-change every 8 minutes. On the other hand, you should be able to get two reels out of a set of carbons... [​IMG]

    (note: I had to make some gross estimates there about how long a 70mm reel would last - I believe it's about 12 frames per foot; I know 35mm runs 16 frames per foot.)

    Leo Kerr
     
  8. Joey Skinner

    Joey Skinner Second Unit

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    I suppose the only reason that the intermission is on the dvd at all is to let you know that there was one in the original movie.
     
  9. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    The intermission has nothing to do with the projectionist. It is just a pee break. If it was for the guy up in the back room, then plays on Broadway wouldn't have them.

    I don't think that I have any DVD's with short intermissions on them. Anyone got a list?

    Glenn
     
  10. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Are you saying you don't have any dvds with intermissions, or that the ones you have are long intermissions?

    some of the dvds I have with intermissions:

    Ice Station Zebra
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    The Ten Commandments
    Ben-Hur
    My Fair Lady
    The Sound of Music
    South Pacific
    Spartacus
    2001
    Hello, Dolly!
    The Great Race

    and many others that I'm sure I'm forgetting.
     
  11. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    Technically speaking, the music you are hearing are NOT the intermssions. They are Entractes, and should be thought of as the "overture" that leads into ACT II. It also helped to "signal" that ACT II was going to begin shortly, and get the audience back in the mood. Usually, no music or house music would be played during the actual intermission. Intermissions were typically 10-15 minutes long for roadshows.
     
  12. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Again, I am ignorant of this, but I suspect this may not be completely correct.

    In many of these dvds, there is music with the words INTERMISSION, that then becomes music with the words ENTR'ACTE. I was supposing that the Intermission music, led into the intermission, and that the Entr'Acte music led into the second half of the film, with no music between the two. Is that not correct?
     
  13. rich_d

    rich_d Cinematographer

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    As a general rule yes. However, some intermissions had no music and no entr' acte music. In some theatres the house music would play from Intermission to start of the film, so there really was no break in the music.

    I guess you could take the approach that since the film is actually running again during the Entr' Acte, that the intermission is over. But I see little that is gained from that understanding. After all:

    Some intermissions do have music going when 'Intermission' is on the screen and continues into a black screen (Lawrence of Arabia).

    Some have no music whatsoever other than the words 'Intermission.'

    Some have no Entr' Acte music (Dial M For Murder).

    Some theatres go to house music to this day. Years ago that might have been an organist.

    So it seems like many things in film, there is no one way.

    btw, does someone remember how 2001: A Space Odyssey was handled during theatrical release or even how Kubrick wanted it handled? The DVD shows an intermission with no musical break and black screen going right into the second half of the film (approximately 3 minutes of music accompanied intermission). At the last screening I attended, I believe that they stopped right at intermission and used the black screen music as an ENTR'ACTE into the remainder of the film.
     
  14. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    Having been in the theatre business, I can tell you that intermissions are for one reason and one reason only and that's to sell more popcorn, etc. Years of experience have shown that while folks will leave a long, film to answer the "call of nature" they are less likely to go for another box of candy or a soda. Back before the days of multiplexes, a single screen theatre might show a 2-hour film five times a day, but a 3-hour could only be run three times so an intermission helped make up the difference in concession sales. Of course, there were some exceptions like when a film was run in 3-D using both projectors at the same time thus requiring an intermission to change reels.
     
  15. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Just stop and think about this for a moment. It doesn't matter if you've seen films with intermissions before, or if not.

    Imagine you're sitting there, alone or with someone, and then all of a sudden your movie stops and the intermission shows up. The cute little title card is there, the music plays, and you have a fond moment of nostaliga. "Oh yeah, intermission. Man, back-in-the-day moment here!" or maybe "Intermission - oh yeah, before movies became 85minutes they used to give you a chance to hit the head"

    But then the one minute becomes two. You sit there. The music starts to get a little stale. I figure by minute 5, at the latest, even the most die-hard theater-phile has grabbed the remote and fastforwarded through the rest.

    The moral of this post? They gave you just enough intermission to be fond of, but not enough to go ballistic over.
     
  16. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Paul and rich_d's description of the intermission experience is correct. While the exact length of the actual "on-film" part may vary, generally the sequence was:

    1. Build up to intermission sequence: music swells, image fades, the tag "intermission" comes up, curtain closes fully before tag & music ends, house lights then come up.

    2. Audience takes care of whatever they need. At this point, there is no film running.

    3. After a 10 or 15 minute break, the Entr'Acte (on-print music with no picture) starts with the house lights still up and the curtain closed. This runs for several minutes as the house lights slowwwwly fade and during the last several bars, the house lights dim fully and the curtain begins to open just as the first image is hitting the screen (the audience should never, ever see a bare screen).



    2001's intermission tag comes up with just the sound of the ship, the curtain closes and house lights come up while the tag is on-screen. The second half begins with music for about 2-3 minutes with curtain still closed and lights fading. Curtain opens as first shot of ship is on-screen.
     
  17. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Martin Hart's American Widescreen Museum has some highly useful information on roadshow presentation:

    http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/wide...esentation.htm

    Full instructions on how to run proper roadshow presentations in your own home. Those with projection systems will love this.

    And here's 5 sets of specific roadshow instructions for films (Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments '56, El Cid, West Side Story, and Gone with the Wind):

    http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/wide...howmanship.htm

    There are some variations in how to deal with roadshow presentation, though...

    My Fair Lady has an actual visual for the overture. For the restored version, you'd keep the curtain open for the exit music/restoration credits.

    Doctor Zhivago has a prolonged end title that's kept on screen.

    Fantasia has an intermission title built-in to the restored version. You'd simply pause and let the title stay on the screen for the whole intermission time.

    Around the World in 80 Days has an intermission card that's part of the film.
     
  18. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    What's interesting with the above links is that Martin Hart stresses the importance of never seeing a blank screen and that the curtains should never start opening on either act until an image hits the screen.

    Yet, the instructions supplied for both TEN COMMANDMENTS and EL CID state that the curtains are to be almost fully opened by the time that ACT II's first image hits the screen.
     

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