Thursday, February 6, 2014

Riske Business: Adam and Patrick on Going to the Movies

This week, Patrick and I discuss something that we movie fans oddly don’t discuss enough – why we like going to the movies and how we feel about the moviegoing experience in 2014.

Adam: Patrick, you and I both enjoy going to the movies.

Patrick: I do like going to the movies! I wish I was there right now.

(Patrick leaves and goes to the movies and we pick up the discussion two days later)

Adam: I personally enjoy it so much that I often go even if there's nothing to see (I’m looking at you Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones). That being said, I am stressed out nearly every time I go to one because I can't concentrate until everyone in the theater is seated. When someone comes in and is looking for a seat, I get very nervous.

Is there something that stresses you out most when seeing a movie in a theater?
Patrick: I suffer from the same anxiety as you; I can't relax until everyone comes in and sits down. Last weekend I went to see Enemies Closer and was completely by myself (on opening day) until the trailers started, at which point a guy came in and sat DIRECTLY BEHIND ME. In an otherwise 100% empty theater. That stressed me out.

Adam: That bag really took Enemies Closer literally. Why would he sit right behind you? Is he socially oblivious? Just separated from his mother's womb? If that happened to me, I would have to get up and move seats. Maybe even leave the auditorium and see a different movie.

Patrick: I know everyone is lamenting the death of the moviegoing experience thanks to tweeting and texting and rude audiences and the general breakdown of the social contract, but I'm not ready to give up yet. I'll try and go in the mornings when it's less crowded and the audience is a little older or try to find other creative ways to get around the things that bother me, but I can't NOT go to the movies. As Joe Dante once said "Movies are my religion, and I'm going to church."

Adam: I find myself going to more movies on the weekends in the morning than I have before for the reason you state -- people seem to know how to behave then. People going to a brunch afterwards are in a great mood and I want to exploit their fine temperament to my own benefit.
Patrick: We're not fortunate enough to have cool Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Chicago, where they take moviegoing etiquette seriously enough that they'll bounce a motherfucker for breaking the rules. But what are your thoughts on the upscale theaters that seat fewer people, provide more space between the seats and often serve food and drinks? It seems like a way to combat the suckiness of modern cineplex culture, but I'm not sure it's much better. For one, it's way too expensive. For two, I DON'T NEED SERVERS COMING IN AND OUT WITH FOOD WHILE I'M TRYING TO WATCH A MOVIE. I know a lot of people like it, but I feel like it makes the movie incidental -- it's something that's on while you're having dinner.

I saw Her in one of those theaters, and it's a SUPER quiet movie, and there were people behind me arguing about their bill while Leif was trying to get all up on his OS. Not cool, upscale patrons!
Adam: I have been to a handful of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Austin and I really appreciate their policy about not talking/texting but it's not 100% enforced – sometimes you have to rat the rude people out. I sat next to a chatty couple (definitely were on a first date) during The Master in 70MM and although I could have raised a card to get an usher to come remove them, I didn't want to be "that guy." Your choices suck: either be a tattle-tale or put up with rude people. At least in the case of the first daters, the conversation was funny. They are going to get beat senseless by reality when they get out of college. The guy was talking about how he was going to make coin through "theoretical philosophy" and the girl wanted to get a degree in "languages," but she wasn't sure which ones.

Patrick: Could that girl get a degree in Na'avi? Because I'm hiring. Seriously, though, I hope they get married and have a happy life together. On the streets. In Portland.
Adam: To answer your upscale theater question, I am not a fan of the dine-in/upscale movie theater, though I recognize it is appealing to many more casual moviegoers. I don't understand why those moviegoers like it though, because isn't part of the fun of paying for dinner and a movie being able to talk to each other during dinner? Unless you see the person you're with all the time (be it date/friend/family), why would you want to cut that experience in half? I live within walking distance of one of those theaters and I'll drive 10-20 minutes out of the way to see the same movies at a "normal theater." I agree with your statement that the movie itself at the upscale theaters becomes incidental. I've been bemoaning the same thing about going to baseball games for a long time; in many stadiums, it's a Gameworks or Dave & Busters that just happens to have a baseball game going. To answer your Na’avi question, she was like a baby. Making noise, don’t know what to do. All the same, Eywa has heard you.

Patrick: I'm sure this is a different conversation, but part of the rise of those special dine-in theaters (or whatever they're called..."premium?") is combatting the home entertainment experience, with tens of thousands of options and high def TVs and home theaters. It's the same thing we saw in the '50s when TV showed up and again in the '80s when cable and VHS started competing with theaters. So now theaters serve food and you can sit in recliners so can be more like we're at home?

But I also wonder if part of it is because we're totally overstimulated all the time. Everyone has to be entertained every second. So the fact that we're eating and there just happens to be a movie on is perfect. It's ALMOST enough to keep us busy. Once those same theaters add a "texting" section, everything will be complete -- until that's no longer enough, either, and we have to think of yet another thing to detract from the actual moviegoing experience and ruin it further.

Adam: My worst nightmare is a theater that has a main screen with a social media area (they'll called it "The Quad" or something communal-sounding) and everyone can read their friends' funny comments or see instagram pics while the movie plays on the 9" monitor on the back of the seat in front of you like on an airplane. I really don't think it's all that far away.

How do you feel about going to movies alone? What was your first solo moviegoing experience?
Patrick: I love going to the movies alone. I couldn't wait for the day my mom would allow it. We had a second run theater in walking distance from my house growing up that was closed for years and reopened when I was 10. It wasn't until I was 12, though, that my mom would let me walk there and see a movie alone. My first alone movie was Bird on a Wire, and from that point on the floodgates were open. I was there every weekend as long as there was something that was PG-13 or less, rating-wise. Didn't matter what the movie was or if I had already seen it -- the going was the important thing. Once I was able to drive, that opened up a whole new world; now I could see first-run movies alone whenever I wanted (assuming I had the money). Once I was out of school, I would spend entire days at the theater alone -- five or six movies at a time. I still enjoyed going to movies with friends, but I loved the flexibility of going to see whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to go. It might be hard to talk someone into a double feature of the That Darn Cat remake and Paul Schrader's Touch for the second time, but I didn't have to worry about that.

Adam: I didn't go to my first movie alone until I was 18. I'll remember it forever, because I was on winter break from my freshman year in college and none of my friends knew what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was. I wanted to go on a Monday and didn't because I was too embarrassed to go alone. I ended up going the next day and was nervous about the experience until I noticed a few others in the theater that were also alone – only half were prostitutes. Shortly thereafter, I saw Traffic alone and didn't care. Nowadays, I go with people about half the time and by myself half the time -- alone, yet not alone. The flexibility is the best part of it, but I always have my 1-2 days a year where I remind myself of the ending to About a Boy (another movie I saw alone) – “No man is an island.”

I want to get positive now and figure out why we both love going to the movies so much. I really like stadium seating. I'm a fan of IMAX 3D for "bad" movies (one of the reasons I rushed out to see Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, only to learn it was a good movie). I enjoy the new trend of studios screening movies at 8pm or 9pm the Thursday before the release date as opposed to midnight shows or waiting an extra day. I love theater hopping and watching 20 minutes of a movie I like instead of sitting through pre-shows or trailers in some cases. I like AMC Stubs cards. I love repertory theaters like the Music Box that have wonderful special events (The Massacre, for example) and filmmaker Q&A’s. I appreciate going to old movies and figuring out who I’d want to snog if I were around in 1954. I dig the Coke Freestyle machines in some theaters that allow me to have Vanilla Barq's. I like football and porno and books about war…..
Patrick: I have yet to go to one of those theaters with the cool soda machines! I mean, they have them at Noodles & Company, but those places hardly ever show The Croods, you know what I'm saying?

Adam: It would be so boss if N&C played The Croods on the soda machine. Mine only plays Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Tried so many times to finish that movie, but there's always someone behind me that wants Raspberry Seagram's Ginger Ale. One time it was Idris Elba himself and he was all like "Spoiler alert - He cancels the apocalypse. I'm thirsty, mate."

Patrick: I was at one of those Mandela Coke machines. It filled me with guilt and bummed me out and I couldn't even finish my Wisconsin Mac n' Cheese. I struggle, is what I'm saying.

Adam: What are some aspects of going to a theater that you like? Is it something in the actual experience? Is it romanticizing of the idea?

Patrick: I can't pinpoint exactly why I love it, nor when it started. As far back as I can remember, all I wanted was to go to movies. Even with so many modern annoyances, I still love everything about it. I love multiplexes that bring more variety (in theory) and let me see different kinds of movies (though I do admit that I miss the giant one or two screen theaters). I love stadium seating. I love trailers, even when I've seen them a bunch already (except not you, Lone Survivor infomercial). I love the community of it. As much as other audience members can be the bane of my existence, I love hearing them react to a comedy or gasp during a horror movie. Many of my favorite moviegoing memories involve big, rowdy crowd reactions. People stood up and cheered during the midnight show of Independence Day, and I LOVED IT. It was so much fun seeing people behave so ridiculously and letting myself be ridiculous with them.

I miss 35mm. I romanticize that shit, and there's something that feels so much more special about a repertory theater showing something in 35 because it means they GOT A COPY. Someone had to track it down. Someone had to ship it there. Someone got to take it out of a box and load it onto the projector. Digital doesn't have that same coolness, even if it rarely bothers me when I'm watching it. And I wish some theaters around here would offer different kinds of experiences -- double features, special screenings, that sort of thing. I know we're never going to have anything like the New Beverly in Chicago (and to be honest, I would probably rarely get there to see anything -- at least, not until my kids are grown, at which point we won't go to theaters but instead have hundreds of remakes and reboots beamed directly into our space brains), but I'm jealous of everyone out in L.A. for moviegoing opportunities they get. As movie fans, I never want us to take the experience for granted.

What's your dream double feature? Where would it screen and what snacks or food would you eat? Who would you invite?
Adam: I completely agree with you about double features. I almost went to Star Trek Into Darkness/World War Z just because it was a double feature (and I never want to see World War Z ever again). Same with Spider-Man and Men in Black II. Almost went to that but ended up at One Hour Photo. Great job, 2002 version of me.

My dream double feature will definitely surprise you. I want to repeat an experience I had going with my dad when I was 7 years old to the late Town & Country mall theaters to see a double feature of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I would get a bag of Cineplex Odeon corn and a Coke. I have always remembered and romanticized that experience because it was like a perfect storm of awesome. We had seen Last Crusade before and knew it was a lot of fun. I was bothering my dad all summer about taking me to Star Trek V and he finally relented. If I could repeat that experience, I think it would be unspeakably badass.

Patrick: I almost went to that same Star Trek/World War Z double feature just because it existed, and I didn't like either of those movies. That second-run theater by my house growing up used to have double features every couple of months, so you got two movies for $1.50. Those were the best Sunday afternoons of my life. There was also a refill on a large popcorn and soda, so you were SET for both movies. How else could I have seen Without a Clue and High Spirits? Or The Great Outdoors and Big Business? My favorite was UHF and Shag: The Movie, which I saw mostly because it was attached to UHF and which I ended up loving. The combination of the early '60s PLUS the Cates/Fonda/Gish trifecta was more than my 12-year old heart could stand. My friends used to make fun of me for loving "girl" movies. We're not friends anymore.
Adam: That second run theater by your house is where I first saw Weekend at Bernie’s in a double bill with Young Einstein!!! What is your dream double bill?

Patrick: I couldn't possibly pick a dream double bill, which is totally unfair because I asked you to do it. That UHF/Shag one WAS pretty sweet. The Music Box in Chicago did a double feature of Kill Bill and Grindhouse a year or so ago and I wasn't able to go, but that would really be something. That's like four movies.

Adam: I change my answer to the double feature question. Showgirls and Jade. Alone with a bag of ring pops.

What is the most tragic example of an R-rated movie you were denied entry to because you were under 17 at the time?

Patrick: I don't think I was ever denied entrance to an R-rated movie, because I had a beard at age 13. Actually, we always made sure that adults would buy the tickets and then we would just explain that we were meeting said adult inside the theater. I was almost denied entrance to Falling Down, which would have crushed me because I had walked many miles to get there. I still don't know why I did that. I guess I just really identified with Michael Douglas's white, middle-class rage as a pre-teen. The system had really chewed me up and spit me out, and I wanted my McDonald's breakfast at 10:31. Testify, D-FENS.

Adam: I wish I had your charmed childhood where you always got into R-rated movies. I didn't get into Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, Supercop, Rumble in the Bronx (the world did not want me to meet Jackie Chan) and Saving Private Ryan just to name a few. I even got carded when I bought Drive on Blu-ray last year at Best Buy. My response was "I'm almost bald."

Your turn, lovely readers! What do you think about the moviegoing experience in general? What do you like most about it and what stresses you out?


  1. Great column, guys! It will come as no shock to you that I, too, love going to the movies. My response to several of the worst/most stressful moments in my life has been to hightail it to a picture show. I do remember the first movie I ever saw alone, and it's a very special memory to me: It was Star Wars (what we now call Episode 4, but what I then called pretty much the best movie I had ever seen.) I'd already seen it but HAD to see it again, an idea that was much less compelling to my fellow 13-year-old girls. I walked the mile-and-a-half to the nearest theatre, getting more and more excited with every block. I was nervous (what if any kid from school saw me? Alone!? In public?!!) but it worked out great -- I had Han all to myself, as both role model and secret boyfriend. (We're still together. Don't tell JB.)

    1. I had the ever-adorable Zhang Ziyi to myself. She made me want to be a better man.

    2. My buddy once talked his mom into seeing "Where the Heart Is" so he could go see his movie girlfriend Natalie Portman. He was in college at the time.

    3. My college gf looked slightly like Anne Hathaway so when we were apart one weekend I saw Ella Enchanted in a theater by myself because I missed her.

  2. A guy sat directly behind me in an empty theater twice last year and made me so nervous that I moved.

    Great article guys, I agree pretty much 100%. My local Cinemark has a series playing classic movies every couple of weeks that I love going to because there's something really irreplaceable about seeing movies in an actual movie theater. I get aggravated talking to other "film lovers" in my area because they all hate going to the theater because it's not hi-def enough for them. They only want to watch movies on their 4K TV's, and have no interest in watching anything that was released before 1977.

    I love going to the movies because of the respect it demands of you. Granted, most people don't listen and wind up giggling and texting, which is why I don't mind going alone most of the time. I actually have a Rogues Gallery categorizing all the nuisances and labeling them according to what show we were in. Personally, I love the theater because it commands my attention not only because I actually paid money to get in, but also because the atmosphere focuses my attention. As much as I try to fight it, it can be difficult sometimes watching a three hour Italian flick at home and not play on my phone. There's just something about those theater seats.

    I'm also on board with going to earlier showings to avoid the obnoxious crowds. Most of my friends would never go see a movie like Her, so I'll go by myself and actually have a pretty good time. Lots of times I wind up in a theater full of senior citizens, and some of the best times I've had at the movies were after such screenings getting to talk to them about the film. They were actually excited about the movie and had thoughts about what it all meant and how it came together, not just how it compared to Fight Club. It's kind of similar to your story about that kind old lady in Fargo, Patrick.

    I wish more theaters played classic films, because the experience sitting in those seats and going out of your way to watch the movie is what makes them special. I got to see the Wizard of Oz in IMAX last year, and while some nearby drunken audience members kept pulling me out of the experience, it was a whole new way to experience a movie I love that I'd seen dozens of times before. Ditto Raiders of the Lost Ark and Beauty of the Beast. Nowadays, everything is about convenience and how you can stream a movie to your living room so you can half-listen to it while you tweet. Those are just broad generalizations of course, but I keep having bad experiences inviting people over for movie night lately. The movie going experience makes it slightly easier to get away from that. I totally agree, it's like going to church.

    1. Good point about focusing your attention. I've been catching up on some 1985 movies this week and it's taken me forever to get through some of them because I will take nap breaks or breaks to look up the movie on IMDB or Wikipedia etc. Movie theaters are like temporary cure for my ADD.

      Speaking of classic movies, I really like that Cinemark series. I saw they're showing The Little Mermaid and The Jungle Book in a week or so. That's badass. I haven't seen those in a theater in forever. Too bad I'd be the creepy old guy at Little Mermaid, maybe my mom would go as a way to social proof myself. Same reason I'll go see The Lego Movie at like 11pm.

    2. I'm so unbelievably jazzed to see those two Disney classics on the big screen. This is exactly what I love about going to the movie theater, it makes great even better.

  3. I am that guy who will sit directly behind someone in a virtually empty theatre. I don't do it to make him nervous but chances are he's chosen the best seats in the house and logically the next best seats are going to be in his vicinity. I have no idea why this makes you guys nervous. I don't kick seats, munch food loudly, or talk... so why should my proximity alone ruin your movie-going experience?

    1. I'll come clean. I'm actually a pretty paranoid person, and ever since the Dark Knight Rises shootings I've gotten extremely nervous when somebody sits right behind me. I know it's illogical, and the odds are 99.9% in my favor, I just wish that if somebody sits a row behind me they move a seat or two to the side. That's just me, and I know how insane this sounds.

    2. Myke, that's not insane at all. If it's an empty theater no one should sit right behind you. It's like pissing at a urinal. If there's three and the one on the left is being used, you go to the one on the right, not the one in the middle.

      If a person has to sit in the row behind me (again, in a fairly empty theater) they should have the courtesy to go one or two down to either my left or right.

      It's such an anxiety thing for me.

    3. Darren-

      I see your point about wanting to sit in the best spot of the theater, but right behind me freaks me out because it feels so targeted, especially when there's so much space available. I know this is not why you do it, but with so many seats around, it feels like my privacy is being deliberately invaded. I would move over a few seats, not because of an antisocial impulse, but because I want to respect your space. Who needs to hear me shuffle in my seat if they don't have to? Just my two cents.

    4. When I went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmOWg a couple weeks ago, there were only about 10 people in the theatre, and right before it started these really gnarly, homeless-looking dudes with like a garbage bag full of something walked in and sat in the back - I know I shouldn't judge by looks but they seemed like bad news. I started thinking they could pretty much go down row by row slitting everyone's throats on their way and it's so loud in there I'd be totally oblivious until they got to me. So...yeah, I guess I get creeped out by near-empty theatres too!

    5. Did they have poop in their hair? If so, they were wizards.

    6. Come to think of it, I did think I smelled some pipe-weed when they walked by...

    7. Long Bottom Leaf, finest pipe weed in the Southfarthing.

  4. I'm more striking than lovely.

    I've really come to love the theatre experience again, for the obvious reasons like big picture and sound, but I've always found the communal experience amplifies my own reactions - everything seems more funny, scary, intense, whatever - I feed off the crowd energy.

    I've also been going alone a lot more since Adam convinced me it was okay in an article he wrote awhile back. Up until last year I had gone to one movie alone in my life. I had just moved to Toronto, I didn't know anyone yet so I felt pretty alone period, and it was an awful, sad experience not helped by the fact it was Men in Black II. Now that I'm not actually lonely, I love it - my fiancée goes to bed early and I'm a night owl so I'll often go to a late show after she goes to bed - it's great! So what if I look like a creepy old man amongst a crowd of freshman chicks at The Bling Ring? Who cares if I seem like the Lonelier Mountain at The Hobbit? I'm not there to chat about it anyway. Viva el teatro solo! (with apologies to any Spanish speakers)

    And I've got a doozy of a tragic entry-denial story. It's late June 1993. I've been 13 for a couple of weeks. On a family trip to PEI we get a hotel near a multiplex where the movie I've been dying to see for over a year (probably the first time I've ever anticipated a movie for so long), based on a book I had read when I was 10, is playing. My parents drop me and my 8-year old sister off to see it while they catch up on some "alone time". Pumped out of my fucking mind, I walk up to the ticket counter and say, "Two for Jurassic Park please!" Sorry, the ticket lady replied pointing at my sister, she's too young. Fuuuuuck. My sister suggested we go see Dennis the Menace instead but FUCK THAT. Utterly dejected I walk back to the hotel where my Dad adds to my trauma by being mysteriously pissed off at me for coming back so early. The whole family would go the next night but man, that one hurt at the time.

    1. I'm so happy that you felt more comfortable going to see movies by yourself. It means you're not going to let a social construct get in the way of you seeing what you want to see. That's awesome.

      I had a similar experience to your JP nightmare with Demon Knight. My friends were like "let's go see IQ" and I was exasperated by their suggestion. Not the same thing, guys!

    2. Yeah man, I'm not very good at "reversing engines" once I've got something in mind. Like a few weeks ago I was so sure my You're Next blu-ray was arriving that day and when it didn't I totally sulked through the "Downton Abbey" episodes my girl made us watch instead. I was all, shut your stupid face, Lord Grantham.

      P.S. The next day she fucking loved You're Next.

    3. Is Mr. Darcy on Downtown Abbey? He's in every British show I think. And Married with Children.

    4. Firstly, it's "Downton Abbey" - common stupid mistake.

      Secondly, I don't really pay attention to the characters - I'm in it for the fabulous period costumes.

    5. Actually going to the movies after your fiance has gone to sleep! wow, thats an extra step I've never thought of taking. Ive watched a movie (or two or three when its SMM) after shes gone to bed, but actually leaving the house! thats like,! I'm speechless, but i think im impressed....i think.

      Oh, and it IS Downtown Abbey. Its the only name that makes sense, which makes everyone else pretentious and wrong. (p.s. ive never watched the show, but i know im right).

    6. I think I'm going to write a pilot called Downtown Abbey about a girl named Abby (but writes it Abbey to be pretentious) who lives downtown and likes to go to the movies. The first episode will be her sneaking out to see Pompeii after her fiancee has gone to sleep. The show takes place in the future.

    7. Adam, your show sounds a lot better - can I play Abbey? I look great in heels and lipstick and I'm only a few more episodes of "Downton Abbey" away from having my own set of B-cups.

      Brad - to be honest it did feel a little wrong at first and Sascha (she spells it that way to be pretentious) didn't love the idea (especially because we're gentrification pioneers on the border of a sketchy neighbourhood - the title of my upcoming memoirs) but she's gotten used to me stumbling into bed late at night, breath reeking of popcorn and Coke Zero, eyes glazed over from visions of another universe...I think.

  5. I simultaneously love the communal experience and wish everyone in the theater would go away. Mostly it's the on-the-phone crowd I can't stand. Isn't going to the movies too expensive to just sit on your phone the whole time? Really try to find times and theaters where I know I won't experience Theater Rage. Then set me up with a GIGANTIC Coke (cola, not pile of) and I'm ready to go.

    1. I feel really fortunate to apparently live in a place where people have some respect for each other and the rules of the theatre. ONE time in the past couple years have I been momentarily distracted by a cellphone being turned on - I guess in a "have-not" area like mine, people really want to make the most of their relatively expensive movie outings. Go figure!

    2. You make Narnia sound pretty good Sol.

  6. Great column! I think serious movie fans like us F-heads eat this stuff up. Keep it up!

    - What I like: The communal reaction. Recent example: A full theater gasped in shock at the "reveal" in Star Trek Into Darkness. Yeah, people are maybe less plugged in around here... but I will never forget it.
    - What I don't like: Tech issues. When the picture goes out during the climax of Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, but the sound continues. I don't realize it's a tech issue until far too late. I proclaim: Guy Ritchie is an artistic genius! Oh wait.. it's just broken.
    - What stresses me out: When people around me are drinking in the theater. Except when I saw midnight release show of The Love Guru, then I was envious.
    - Dream Double Feature: I had 1 dad double feature experience and it was perfect: Ronin and Rush Hour.

    1. Thanks Matt! I saw my Rabbi at Rush Hour. Point being, everyone saw Rush Hour :-)

  7. Nothing I can say here that hasn't already been written in the column or comments, except I love Shag. You are so right. Having the three girls in that film was pretty awesome, although Pudge was the one who stole my heart.

    Bridget Fonda, while beautiful in this movie, always takes my breath away in Scandal (the 1990 Cinemax version, not the version they put on the DVD claiming it was "uncut").

  8. You guys are so so so so so so SO lucky to have nice theaters and moderately respectful audiences. Cell phones and the occasional whispers are the least of our woes down here. It gets crazy sometimes. It's not always bad, but you just never know what you're going to get. When my family saw Wreck it Ralph, there were some teenagers in the row behind us actually having a push-up competition.

    Historically, I've had some astonishing experiences. When Miss Congeniality came out in December of 2000, all the kids in the family who had gotten together for Christmas decided to go see it to get out of the house. When we came out, there was a full on riot in the lobby. Garbage cans being thrown, cops flooding the place, all that. I once had a friend get maced at the dollar theater. And my mom was threatened by a dude in The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain when she shushed him. No joke. He stood up and blocked the aisle so she couldn't go complain. At one theater, the employees actually came into the theater mid-movie and danced around in the little space in front of the screen and then left. I remember one of them was holding a slice of pizza. It's not always like that, but it definitely IS more than it ISN'T. When I go, it's usually alone and in the morning or the first show after lunch, preferably on a Monday or a Tuesday after something has opened. If my wife wants to go with me, we aim for as early as possible. I love going to the movies, but the crowds here will often TOTALLY ruin a movie going experience, so it's not as easy to justify going through that every week as it used to be.

    1. This comment is amazing Heath.

      Who finished the push-up competition first? If Miss Congeniality turned into a Radio Raheem situation do you think there'd be a beauty pageant in the lobby if the same theater showed Do the Right Thing?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I want to both go to your cinema and also to never go there. I think what I really want to do is to see a movie about it. "Documentarian HHH, PhD, OBE". That is your mission if you choose to accept it!

    4. The kid in the red shirt directly behind my seat won the push up contest. I know this because he was the one who was giggling the most and was very pleased with himself.

      I seriously though it was like this everywhere until I started listening to F This Movie and then realized, oh no, it's not.

      I should also state that I've had plenty of theatrical experiences that were just fine, but I have a hard time relaxing at a movie because of all the stupid things I've seen people do.

  9. Poor Heath, if a riot breaks out at Miss Congeneality what the heck happens when the movie is really good?

    First things first, I am with you guys I HATE it when people sit directly in front of or behind me during a movie, you don't need to sit all the way at the end just a couple seats over is fine, I am a bit more relaxed at IMAX screens with this but at regular theatres how dare you sir!

    The dine in theatres I do admit I like on rare occassions. The one thing I like about these places is that you get to reserve your seat ahead of time (I will pay extra for this) and the food aint too bad (food quality is subject to theatre) My servers who have waited on me have been damn ninja like in their getting in and out of my way. Its definitely not something I do on a regular basis but on those rare occassions when i gotta see the movie opening weekend and I don't wanna wait in line crazy long to get a good seat I'll throw down a few extra bucks.

    Second, I prefer to see movies with someone (my current Aussie GF is super cool and loves to see damn near anything) however for a lot of my high school and college years I had limited viewing times and seeing stuff solo was the only way to go. I'm at the theatres to see a movie, not socialize at a bar.

    The fancy Coke machine at my theatre plays "The Nut Job" on it's screen. Have I told you I quit drinking soda?

    I like seeing a movie on film but I do like digital partially for making sure movies look the same whether its first week or fifth week at the theatre. Also if it wasn't for digital we most definitely wouldn't be getting the classic screenings of recent at Cinemark and other places. The last movie I saw on film was a midnight screening at the Musicbox last year of Pee Wee's Big Adventure and it was all kinds of cool. We only have one theatre like that where I live and nowhere near the variety of the Musicbox.

    Lastly, I have never been turned away for an R rated movie (started hitting them when I was 15) and only time I ever got carded was for the South Park movie (despite my fears a year earlier it would be for Alien Resurrection) Hell I even got into a screening of Orgazmo way before the MPAA believes I should have (Orgazmo being rated NC-17 is ridiculous btw) Also my dream double feature right now would be a Verhoeven match up of Robocop and Total Recall cause right now I think we all need that.

  10. When I was 5 years old my dad divorced my mom. We used to things together on weekends so, to keep me in the habit and distracted from not having daddy around anymore, every Sunday mom would take me to the theater to watch a movie. It wasn't until years later (just recently actually) that I found out my mom is blind in one eye and has really bad vision on her one seeing eye. That poor woman obviously didn't take me to "Superman: The Movie," all the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer buddy comedies, the Peter Sellers "Pink Panther" movies or all those Spielberg/Stallone/007 80's movies because she liked them. To this date her cinematic taste could be charitably described as non-existent. The only movie she really wanted to see bad that she took me to when I was too young to get it (10 or so) was "Gone With the Wind," but since I didn't mind reading the Spanish subtitles (El Salvador, remember?) I actually thought it was a pretty rad, long flick and that Clark Gable was pimp. But it's thanks to a woman that doesn't particularly care for movies (and, indirectly, my father leaving us) that I looked forward to going to the movies every weekend since the age of 5. Incidentally (and fucked-up in the grand scheme of things) one of the first movies we saw together when we started going to the movies was "Kramer vs. Kramer." Talk about seeing your life on-screen! :-O

    Speaking of double-features, they were (are?) pretty common in third-world countries for obvious reasons. The one that sticks out in my mind was a double-bill of "Innerspace" and "The Living Daylights" (the best "Bond" movie ever! Suck it Mike! :-)) that I found fascinating because the movies had nothing in common except they seemed to bend over backwards trying to entertain me. The first time I snuck on my own to see a movie in a theater was "The Fly II." Yep, I was a late bloomer. :-)

    Ever since AMC introduced matinee pricing in New York for pre-noon shows a couple of years back my viewing habits have shifted primarily to mornings. The only movies I'll pay full ticket prices for are repertory and/or arthouse/indie/foreign films that AMC doesn't pick up. It's a sacrifice since (a) I'm not a morning person and (b) opening night crowds at night add so much to certain movies, but the difference between $7-9 versus $14-18 per regular ticket prices add-up to a not-insignificant hunk of change for someone that goes to as many theatrical screenings as I do (not in JB's league but in a galaxy far, far too close ;-P). But I guess I value the movie experience enough that, with so many options at home/work/online, I force myself to seek the theater experience at least a couple of times a week, and the matinee price incentive does the trick. By contrast the closest real-life friend I have that genuinely likes movies only saw two movies last year in theaters ("Gravity 3D" and "Her"), the rest he saw on TV, DVD and Netflix. And don't get me started on other people I know that will only watch movies (a) as bit torrent downloads or (b) on their smartphone. :-(

    Incidentally, does anybody that go to AMC regularly miss that intro they had with the kids sitting in their seats and the theater transforming into a jungle? I grew so sick of that intro, but now that we're stuck with the red dots walking the dog, the "sassy" woman thanking us and the big giant Coke build-up sequences with the red dots, I really miss those kids and seeing those seats and that theater transform into a Dolby-approved jungle. Or am I just cranky?

    1. my god yes, the amc pre show crap is WAY too long, there was no reason to update that thing, don't they know the only cool red dot is the 7-up dot, idiots.

    2. Thanks for commenting J.M.!

      The red dots are white noise to me at this point but when I first saw them (Hunger Games, Oldboy, Homefront), I really really didn't like them. I even joked that I was only going to go to Regal theaters because a) they have the awesome roller coaster bumper and b) to get away from those damn AMC dots. They look like evil tomatoes.

    3. We hate the dots. But the WORST thing about them, for me? I can totally see in my mind the pitch meeting where the creative team introduces the concept... "And here's Red - he wears a cool baseball cap! We call this big guy Griz - 'cause he's a bear! Our little lady Dot has this sassy ponytail!" And I want to punch them all in the brains for thinking up this horrible red circle world. Never thought I'd miss that jungle but I do.

  11. Oh man. I love this article so much. The movie going experience is so special to me it makes my heart explode. My favorite theater going experience of my life happened this year when I saw Jaws on my town's biggest screen with a full crowd. I've seen that film dozens of times but the way it was a whole new experience perfectly tells me why it's always just different in a theater than at home. It's bigger. It's louder. I'm not distracted. I'm totally locked it. And I'll never forget mine and the audiences reactions to the jump scares most of us have seen so many times. That movie plays like nothing else.

    Oddly enough, one day when I was about 20 I went to see The Croods alone because I needed to kill time in town. I wasn't used to seeing movies alone, but what the heck. I can't explain it, but I had a crazy amount of fun seeing The Croods by myself. Ever since then I've loved seeing movies by myself! About 90% of the time at least I'm with family or friends. But when alone... it's still special to me.