Movie Hell

My wife dragged me to RUMOR HAS IT tonight. It’s the first time in ages I’ve seen a movie on a Friday night (usually I see bargain matinees or, during the holidays, get in free with my WGA card). Now I know why the movie business is in trouble.

Let’s talk about the theatre experience first. The movie tickets were $20. The popcorn and drink were $10 (we shared). That’s $30.  You can rent a DVD for $3 or buy one for $18…or wait until it shows up on HBO or Showtime.  I was gouged and I didn’t like it. But hey, you can’t beat the movie-going experience…the big screen, the stadium theatre, and the great sound. Like hell.

My local stadium theatre is one of the crown jewels of the Regal chain. The theatre was packed. The film was scratched (and it’s only been out a week) and the screen was stained. The woman next to me passed gas, coughed, and sneezed her way through the entire movie. The couple in front of me wouldn’t shut-the-fuck-up, even though I asked them politely, and then not so politely, to please shut-the-fuck-up.

Let’s talk about the movie. I can’t remember seeing a movie with so many matching errors. Nothing matched from master to coverage. His hand are around the cup in the master, not in the closeup. She’s got her arms crossed under her chest in the coverage, not in the master. The couple is sitting behind them in the master, not in the coverage. We’re over Shirley MacLaine’s shoulder and she’s talking but her mouth isn’t moving. AHHHHHH!  Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed the unbelievable number of continuity and other matching gaffs if the movie wasn’t so dull. Shirley MacLaine was wonderful, and over-the-top, and cartoonish — but whenever she wasn’t on screen, the movie died.

I couldn’t wait to leave the theatre… and get away from the flatulent germ bag next to me, the loudmouth couple in front of me, and the over-priced popcorn and coke and the movie itself. Why pay $30 for that experience? Buying or renting a DVD, making my own bowl of popcorn, and buying my own coke, sitting in the comfort of my own home, suddenly seems like paradise.

Now before you write me off as a curmudgeon, I like going to movies. Or I did. But more and more often, the experience is like the one I had tonight.

18 thoughts on “Movie Hell”

  1. Try the Arclight. It’s the only place I can see a movie and there are no commercials, I get my seats reserved, and because people pay $14 a ticket they all want a quality experience so no one (almost ever) passes gas.
    Not to mention, if you try to walk into a movie after it’s started – you’re denied.
    I call that the perfect marriage of communism and movies ever.

  2. Agreed.
    The wife and I have all but quit going to the movies (she attends the odd one with friends at a matinee a couple times a year). There’s just not much point to going out when we have our home theater system and see 10 or more movies a month with Netflix for $18/month.
    Of course, having two young children might have influenced our decision, but I think we’d have soon arrived at it anyway. The cost of seeing a movie in the cinema versus the hassle, the idiots around you, etc, just doesn’t make economic sense for us.

  3. This is why I bought a projector and screen and now regularly watch DVDs at home. Huge screen. Comfy sofa. No annoying neighbors. And if I have to pee, I can pause it.
    Oh, and the food’s cheap.
    I did, however, break down and go to the theater today in T.O. Saw Syriana. Brilliant, disturbing movie.

  4. What you’ve just described is why I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater. Well, yes, I might be able to–I was at RAF Mildenhall, and I saw Space Cowboys at the base theater. That was…oh…maybe 5 years ago. And base theaters are much cheaper. Before that, I saw one with my brother in Mississippi. That was 1999. It’s before those two that I can’t recall that last time I saw a movie in a theater.
    With DVDs and HBO/Starz, I have no reason to endure the hassle of leaving the house to watch a movie. In my opinion, the theater showing provides advertisement for before it goes to DVD or the pay channels so people know it’s coming.

  5. I love love love the movies, but quit going a number of years ago as well. I used to be the kind of person who caught both premieres and the old classics showing at the Brattle Theater. But I just can’t take the rudeness of that one patron (or three) who talks, or cracklebags, or answers their cell phone and continues the convo right there in their seat any more.
    Without ushers, there is no hope. Most people are considerate, but even when I switched to attending movies during really offhours, or a month after a premiere, there would always be that family group with three year olds going out of their mind in a PG movie, or the lone man with five thousand cracklebags stuffed into his coat and backpack.
    The high prices, the sticky floors, the crappy sound and film quality — all of it I could take, but the nightmare patron — no more.

  6. I liked the movie considerably more than you did. One reason might be that the crowd wasn’t quite as bad as the one you were surrounded by. Another might be that we paid only 2 bucks each for the tickets. It’s hard to feel ripped off at that price.

  7. At least you weren’t going to a film people thought appropriate to bring their screaming child(ren) to–at midnight.
    I would make a fortune if I were to have “no children, cellphones left at the door and manners enforced” screenings.

  8. I’m with Robert on this. There are few movies that I go to see on the big screen. It much cheaper to buy the DVD in 3 months time and get all those extras too. MUNICH and SYRIANNA are absolutely brillant and are much see……they were worth the money (and better yet, I saw them during the matinee time with little crowding, no one sat next to me. Ha)

  9. And with prices and unpleasant experiences like we all share, the studios wonder why movies are dying? When they don’t make movies GOOD ENOUGH to endure that? They’re using the same model for 100 years while the world and technology is passing them by. Everyone looks down on straight-to-video/television – including myself – but maybe that’s the way to go.

  10. I love going to the movies. I go to the early screenings or talk my dad into taking me. The only movies I rent are ones I didn’t have time to see in the theatre or are ones that I’ve never seen before and being 20 means that are a lot of great movies I haven’t seen out there. Then the ones I buy on DVD are ones that I absolutely loved on the big screen or thought were great after I watched it on the rented DVD. I’m also lucky in the fact my city has a couple of stores called Movie Trading Company where you can buy DVDs pretty cheap.
    I have had my share of bad experiences, but most of them are connected to some of the free screening movies I see. There was one where a woman talked to her friend all the way through The Stepford Wives, but the only redeeming thing about that movie was Matthew Broderick. Then at another screening for In Good Company the older gentleman sitting next to me thought my guy friend was my boyfriend, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but he had to point out what was wrong with all of today’s teenage couples. When I went to go see the movie Daredevil a pair of guys talked behind me and my dad the whole movie. I end up buying the movie, but it’s not as good as I thought it was on the big screen. And when I went to see King Kong this guy behind me stuck his feet on my armrest, which wouldn’t have been that bad except he took off his shoes and his stinky socked feet were touching my arm. He did this twice even though I caught him both times.
    I still plan to keep going to movies just as long as there’s something worthwhile on the screen.

  11. As I remember it, going to the movie theater has always been like this. Not the commercials, but the movie talkers and farters, the over-priced snacks, the uncomfortable seats, all of it.
    I think we notice it more now because we have a better option in DVDs and because ticket prices seem to have gone up so much. (Has anyone noticed if ticket prices have gone up more than inflation?)

  12. I’ve had a few bad experiences at films in Baltimore, but since we moved to Hershey, it’s been pretty good. My wife or I take the kids to the matinees ($5.25 before 6 p.m.) and we don’t buy the overpriced food. Most of the theaters only seat about a hundred, stadium style, so they’re not crowded.
    Even when we’ve visited the folks in Dover, Del., my Teresa and I would see movies at the mall in the evening, and we’ve had good experiences.
    But I love my DVD. When VHS was king, we bought probably 25-30 movies, mostly Disney. In about the last 18 months since we moved to DVD, we’ve bought more than 250 movies and TV shows, and we have a wishlist with another 350.

  13. I agree that some movies are just made to be seen in a big screen. I don’t know anyone over the age of 14 who liked LORD OF THE RINGS because the actors were so great. And even with a beamer the beauty of New Zealand won’t be only half as breath-taking in your home cinema as it is on a big screen.
    I have to admitt I like going to the movies (with student discount, of course), even though there are some disturbing things. What I really hate are people who go into old movies (that everyone has seen a million times) and are interested in the plot. 2 years ago I almost got killed by an angry mob at a movie festival because I’d dared to mention that someone dies at the end of “Love Story”. Also there are those certain types of people, who will go to watch a movie based on a novel, only to give out the current state of comparison every two minutes. (“In the novel this scene was much shorter”, “They left out the part, in which…”)And last but not least: sticky carpets. It’s just like in those nightmares when you want to run away, but you can’t.
    Yet, I like movie theaters. Maybe that’s a sick notion, but I can’t help it.

  14. While we’re on the subject of talkers in movies: The wife and I took in “Walk the Line” last night (which I highly recommend, by the way). Since it was New Year’s Eve, the crowd was mostly senior citizens.
    Now, people talk a lot about how rude teenagers can be about talking in movies…let me tell you, they are NOTHING compared to senior citizens.
    “Hey! Isn’t that that guy from that show?”
    “What show?”
    “That show you used to like! That’s him! That’s that guy!”
    “What’s happening now? Is that that girl from earlier?”
    “I remember when girls wore dresses like that…”
    All declaimed, of course, at a volume suitable for people wearing hearing aids with defective batteries. And god forbid you should ask them to pipe down. Pheh.

  15. Don’t get me started on rude people over the age of 55. My wife and I went to Belterra Casino in Indiana a couple of years ago. It was a Wednesday, and we decided to take a long drive along the Ohio River to Louisville and back. We stopped at Belterra on a lark and played the slots, which we’d never played before.
    I got screamed at by a grandma who pouted because I took “her” machine, and two more little old ladies smacked me in the head as they barrelled through to their machines. Another lady (Mind you, I saw men being rude, too, but the ladies seemed to have it in for me) tried to shove me aside because I blocked the way to her favorite slot machine.
    The next time Diane and I went to Belterra, we saw Bill Engvall. Ironic, since a lot of these jerks needed to be told, “Heeeere’s yer sign!”
    Mind you, whenever I hear someone over 55 asking why the younger crowd is so rude, it’s because their rowdier peers are all draining their retirement accounts at a nearby riverboat. They never grew up. They just separated themselves from their more mannered peers.

  16. I’m over 55, but that’s enough about that.
    A few years ago, when I wasn’t over 55, I was behind a little old apple-cheeked grandma who slowed at turns, straddled lanes, put on her signal and didn’t turn, all in a very busy stretch of road. She turned and stopped. Dead stop. No warning. As I pulled around her I stopped and said, “Ma’am, you look like you’re lost. Can I help?”
    She, frustrated, looked at me with her grandma face and said, “Go fuck yourself.”
    As for movies, the wife and I go on Sunday matinees and have a great time.

  17. My last movie experience was the new Harry Potter, which granted, is skewed towards kids, but I couldn’t believe how many people brought children that were too young, e.g., infants, that cried throughout or people who just let their children do whatever they want. I almost stood up before the movie started (as I had a bad feeling about the what appeared to be the most obnoxious patrons ever) to announce the following rules:
    1. If you have a cell phone or pager, you must turn it off. If you need to keep it on for emergencies, you must turn it on vibrate and then LEAVE when it goes off, instead of actually carrying on your conversation during the movie.
    2. If you have a small child who begins wailing during the movie, you must LEAVE and take the child with you. I’m sorry that you are going to miss part of the movie, but you can’t punish the rest of us who wisely did not bring an infant.
    3. Do not kick the seat in front of you. Even if there is not someone directly in front of you, the whole row in front of you can feel the vibration from the kicks.
    The kicking was what drove me crazy and it was an adult and not a child. Harry Potter is pretty lengthy movie and the guy diagonally behind me kicked the chair beside me the entire movie, even after I asked (once nicely, second time not so much) for him to stop. And this was a newer theater with plenty of leg room!
    I was going to see Walk the Line that same weekend, but left vowing never to return. I just don’t understand where common courtesy went!!


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