As “Barbenheimer” (the fun portmanteau of Barbie and Oppenheimer) took the world by storm earlier this year, it illustrated the growing difficulty of sustaining long movie runs. With Oppenheimer clocking in at a whopping three hours, it became clear that we needed a way to deal with epic-length films that tested our physical and mental stamina.
The case for reintroducing movie intermissions
The length of movies is increasing, but our attention spans are not. According to recent research, the top ten grossing films in the United States in 2022 had an average duration of 136 minutes, indicating an increasing trend toward longer cinematic experiences. Many 2023 releases, from Oppenheimer to Killers of the Flower Moon, exceed two hours.
But should we sit through these nonstop movie marathons? From a health standpoint, it’s evident that movie intermissions should be reinstated.
Dr. Christi Pramudji, MD, urogynecologist and pelvic floor specialist, warns that sedentary lifestyles, such as sitting during a three-hour movie, are detrimental to our health. “It’s not good for our health to be sitting in the same position,” she said. Long durations of sitting can cause a variety of health problems, ranging from cardiovascular issues to joint problems and a weak core.
Dr. Pramudji, another urinary health expert, emphasizes the negative bladder repercussions of holding in pee while watching movies. As the body’s natural defensive mechanism is interrupted, it might result in urinary tract infections and voiding problems. “The muscles end up tightening too much to try to hold it in, and the normal signals that tell the bladder to empty can get disrupted because you’re blocking what your body wants to do.”
Furthermore, prolonged sitting might cause digital eye strain and impair healthy blood flow in the legs. Aside from the physiological concerns, watching long films can be intellectually taxing. Intermissions, according to Chad Pierce, chief film projectionist and theater floor manager at The Texas Theatre, can prevent the overwhelming nature of overly long tales. “Intermissions give you the opportunity to breathe and digest the information presented to you,” Pierce said.
Surviving lengthy films: 6 tips for moviegoers
While we fight for the reinstatement of intermissions, we also need to be prepared to negotiate today’s marathon films. Here are six techniques to help you stay healthy and engaged after long movie sessions.
1. Use the restroom before the movie begins
To avoid mid-film toilet trips, make sure your bladder is completely empty before watching the movie. Arrive at the theater earlier than normal to allow for a pre-movie restroom break. Dr. Pramudji also advises against drinking too much liquid an hour or two before the movie.
2. Inquire about the lengths of pre-movie trailers
Learn how long the pre-movie trailers will run from the theater personnel. Knowing this can help you make the most of your time outside the seat, whether it’s for potty breaks, concessions, or extending your legs.
3. Avoid foods that irritate your bladder
Avoid meals and beverages that irritate your bladder, especially if you are sensitive to them. Items that irritate the bladder, such as caffeinated beverages, chocolate, spicy foods, and tomatoes, can cause urinary discomfort and frequency. While it may be difficult to avoid candy and soft drinks in a theater, it’s a great decision if you’re committed to a full-length viewing.
4. Use the 20-20-20 rule to combat digital eye strain
The 20-20-20 guideline can help you avoid digital eye strain while watching long films. Look at an item about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds every 20 minutes, blinking regularly. This technique, developed by the American Optometric Association, reduces eye fatigue and keeps the eyes lubricated.
5. Schedule no-spoiler bathroom breaks
Use online services to find the best times for restroom breaks without missing important story sections. Websites such as No-Guilt Fan Girls’ “When Can You Pee” provide recommendations for each film, ensuring you keep informed without revealing any spoilers.
6. Workout before the movie
Exercise before a movie can improve mood, cognitive function, and concentration. Physical activity increases brain-derived neurotrophic factors and prepares you for a long movie experience, allowing you to stay focused and engaged.
It’s critical to prioritize your health and enjoyment in the age of marathon movies. You may overcome long movies without jeopardizing your health by resurrecting movie intermissions and using these tactics.