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How to Watch Lord of the Rings: Theatrical Intermission Times

Scroll down for appropriate intermission timings to watch the theatrical versions of Lord of the Rings.

By now, everyone who’s seen Lord of the Rings has watched it 14 times. Additionally, these hardcore fans insist on watching extended marathons. It’s not because it is the intended way to enjoy the artistry of the films, but rather an act of masochism to demonstrate their devotion to the franchise. These leaves the greatest cinematic trilogy of all time fairly inaccessible to the casual movie goer.

If you don’t want to read the books, nor invest 12hr7m into watching an extended marathon, this is the guide for you.

First things first: watch the theatrical editions. They have a shorter runtime of about 3 hours each. Watch one a week, with appropriate intermission times, and then go to YouTube and (at your leisure) watch the nearly 3 hours of deleted scenes that comprise the extended editions. Then maybe once you’ve fallen in love with Lord of the Rings, you can read the books and schedule extended watch marathons of your own. Here’s the schedule:

Week 1: Fellowship of the Ring

Intermission: 1:33:32, after the council of Elrond finishes

Shot of Fellowship a few seconds before the scene ends. Take intermission after this
Shot of Fellowship a few seconds before the scene ends

Runtime without intermissions: 2 hours 58 minutes

This one may not require an intermission. I’ve shown it to friends who were surprised when it ended because it doesn’t feel like 3 hours.

Week 2: Two Towers

Intermission: 1:17:52, after fish and chips interaction with Smeagol

Po-ta-toes. Good intermission spot for two towers
What’s taters, precious?

Runtime without intermissions: 2 hours 59 minutes

Week 3: Return of the King

Intermission 1: 1:37:23, after a weapon called Grond is introduced

Grond battering ram. Intermission here lets reminds you that you're only halfway done, even with the theatrical edition
Grond! Grond! Grond! Grond!

Intermission 2: 2:57:59, after “I’m glad to be here with you, Samwise”. There’s a fade to black and the music briefly stops. Pause before it resumes again.

Frodo embraces Sam
Frodo and Sam embrace

Runtime without intermissions: 3 hours 21 minutes

Return of the King has two large climatic battles and 6 consecutive endings. It’s often been criticized for its pacing problems and not knowing when to leave the stage. Watch appropriately, and you won’t relate to these complaints.

The appropriate way is with 2 intermissions: a standard one halfway through, and then a second after the first ending.

You can then watch the remaining 5 endings as an epilogue, which is more palatable.


MovieIntermission Times
Fellowship of the Ring1:33:32
Two Towers1:17:52
Return of the King1:37:23


I would highly recommend not turning off the movie when the credits start rolling. A large part of the film’s success is Howard Shore’s brilliant scoring, and it is well worth it to just bask in the music.

So that’s how Lord of the Rings should be enjoyed: 3 hour theatrical releases with an intermission in each movie. 2 of them in RotK.

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