Thursday, April 16, 2015

Riske Business: The 10 Worst Things About the Movie Theater Experience

by Adam Riske
And here’s what I don’t like so much.

10. 3D – This would have been higher on my list if it weren’t (more or less) on its way out already, but 3D is obnoxious and not just because it makes the image darker and the tickets are more expensive. I find 3D annoying because it’s a waste of time and space. Say I want to see Insurgent and there are five screenings of it on any given day. Two of those screenings are in 3D, so I have to throw those out as opportunities to see the movie and now I’m left with only three chances to see the movie that day instead of what would have been five. Lastly, 3D is a spectacle and spectacles can be distracting, taking me out of a movie as opposed to immersing me in the experience. It’s more difficult to pay attention to a story while watching a 3D movie. At least that’s my opinion.
9. Revival Screenings at Chain Theaters – I usually enjoy attending revival screenings at classic theatres, but when they are at chains like AMC or Cinemark they become slightly depressing experiences. It’s a grab bag as to how well the movie will be projected and it’s sad to see a “classic” movie with only a handful of other people in a giant theater. For example, I saw Pretty Woman last summer during my 31 days straight of seeing a movie in a theater challenge and besides me being one of two people in the entire theater, it was a huge bummer because it was in this digital projection that looked about as good as a VHS tape. The only exception where I enjoy revival screenings at chain theaters are the series curated by the Chicago Film Critics Association because they do a nice job with their post-movie Q&A’s, which are engaging and interesting and always well-attended.

8. D-Box Motion Sensory Seats – Only a few theaters have these, but my experience with them is not the multi-sensory revolution they advertised. It’s just a seat that does things to your butt and back. At times the motion against your bladder is so pronounced that I had to get up out of the theater and go to the bathroom. These seats blow. For more on my experience with D-Box, read my column on when I went to a D-Box theater to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I said it better back then.
7. 1st Row Recliner Seats – What a stupid idea! These seats seem made by and for teenagers who don’t have the stamina to SIT STRAIGHT UP while watching a movie so they have to recline horizontally to a full-on LAYING DOWN position where they stare up at the movie. I’m not joking. It’s like looking up from the ground at a skyscraper.
6. Concessions – Let’s face it. Most theater chains don’t make good popcorn. I’ve written about this extensively. You can read that here. I go to AMC Theaters a lot and their popcorn is miserable. It doesn’t matter if you put butter or salt on it, it just sucks. Plus, it’s super expensive! You’re better off getting mini Nestle Crunch Ice Cream Bites even if it’s the middle of winter or hitting up White Castle on the way home and saving your money on the blah refreshments. Except for the Coke Freestyle machine…that thing is dope.

5. Old Bathrooms – You know I love old classic theatres, but some of their bathrooms are fucking disgusting. The décor looks like it’s from the 1930s – a prison from the 1930s. Bathroom ambience has improved so much since the troth days that it’s inexcusable to feel like you’re going to get shanked nowadays when you hit the head. Plus it has that old classic pee smell, which is worse than new chain theater pee smell. I don’t know why but that’s a science fact. Also a fact? In every classic movie theatre bathroom at least one person has died of unnatural causes. They be ghosts in there that say boo while you poo, yo.

4. Assigned Seating – I talked to one commenter last week about assigned seating (which they liked, so I might be in the minority here) but I don’t particularly care for it. I understand the convenience of being able to pick out seats exactly where you want to sit and not having to get there early, but on the downside what if you’re stuck next to someone who is a talker or in other ways misbehaving? I went to see The Avengers opening night and my assigned seat was next to one that a couple was sharing. The man was holding his girlfriend like she was a newborn baby, cradling her in his lap. I couldn’t move because my seat was assigned, and while I was trying to enjoy watching Iron Man and Captain America I instead was pre-occupied with this weird pair of lovebirds.
3. Pre-Show Entertainment – I hate it so much. I don’t like the AMC dots. I don’t want to see Maria Menounos. I am not going to watch anything on Cartoon Network. Ugh. I miss the days where it was a blank screen and just music before the trailers, except for one of those wild little bumpers for Feature Presentations or the candy band. It’s how I learned to secretly love songs like “If You Asked Me To” by Celine Dion and “License to Kill” by Gladys Knight. Was it just me or did a song seem cooler and more epic whenever it was played before a movie started? Kind of like the songs on the Blockbuster Video promotional cassettes that played while we were in the store. I’m looking at you, “I Wish” by Carl Thomas.
2. Audiences that Talk – Ok, let’s get these things on the table. You might think you are whispering but in an echo chamber like a movie theater, every whisper is basically a hushed conversation at full volume. You are just doing something funny with your voice. It sounds like that, not a whisper. Secondly, if you are speaking in any language (English or non-English) it STILL MAKES NOISE so don’t do that.

1. Open Seating – If the theater is not full, don’t sit in front of me or behind me. Give me some personal space, especially if I’m sitting off to the side and not in the middle of the row. It’s just being courteous. I fully get it if the movie theater is crowded, but not at all if it’s only 1/3 full.

31 comments:

  1. When I went to see furious 7 had assigned seats and there was couple who was almost spooning sitting next to me. Overall I still find assigned seat to be a plus especially when your girlfriend takes 400 years to get dress. Don't get me started with the 3-d showings take up valuable space. Movie talkers goes without saying. I'd like to add movie selfies to the list. People who sit behind you and put there feet on the chair next to you. This may sound inconsiderate but babies or very small children in rated R movies. I expect to here a little crying or kiddie chatter during a Pixar flick but not during John Wick or Gone Girl. I recommend going Dr Pop if they have one in your area for your popcorn needs.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up on Dr Pop. None in my area but it looks like I can order it online :-)

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  2. For me it's the hipster kids that often attend classic screenings. There always seems to be a few making comments or generally making a nuisance of themselves..

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    1. I dont understand the whole i have to be the center of attention in the movies. The movie that you payed for is the center of attention.

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    2. 100% dead on, Eric. This not only goes for hipsters, but fake ass mystery science theater people and yelling everything at the screen people.

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    3. I disagree entirely on this one. When attending my local second run, or classic feature types showings theater, which cost a whopping four dollars, I enjoy the usual banter/heckle filled theater. It's probably cause I live in Portland, the hipster capitol of the world, none the less with such movies like Jurassic Park, Total Recall, Big Lebowski, Robo Cop(1987), etc it is a lot of fun to drink beer, eat popcorn, and have some unabashed laughs, and heckling. Most are participating and taking it in a positive way. It's like a big living room with friends. Everyone's doing it, and no one's upset. Plus if you haven't already seen these movies, and are there to really enjoy the depth of it all for the first time well, it must of been on sheltered life and I don't have much sympathy. Ya'll may not enjoy it but there are lots of people who do, and definitely types of theaters that encourage it and allow the audience to set the mood of it, and police themselves. If it was not a movie to be heckled someone would come straight up to you and say so. As far as people being hipsters, or "fake" science mystery theater people, you just sound like elitist jerks. Everyone enjoys movies, some enjoy it in different ways, and theirs different theaters for everyone.

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    4. Thanks for the comment Andrew and I see where you're coming from. I'll take the hit on being an elitist jerk I guess. In my 20's I felt similar to how you feel. But nowadays, if I'm being honest, I feel differently about participating along with a movie. Sometimes, there's a time and place for it (such as a Quote-A-Long at the Alamo Drafthouse or a Sing-A-Long or something) and I agree that getting involved is the whole point but when I look back at say what I did at a midnight screening 10 years ago, I feel like for every person I made laugh at a joke I yelled out loud, I probably was bothering 2 or 3 people. Does that make me a hypocrite, yes it does.

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    5. My pleasure as always on these comment threads. Also, to each their own on the subject matter. I can understand an across the board etiquette for theaters, and most the time I would agree with you. Some theaters just cater to different viewers, and I think that's great. As far as the elitist jerk comment, I can tell a lot of different kinds of people read these articles, and listen to the podcasts, we all enjoy movies, sometimes differently, and usually it seems people respect one another on the threads, I just don't see any reason to start labeling people negatively cause they are different. I would assume we can all be above such unnecessary usage of put downs or generalizations. Movies aren't all inclusive to one type of viewer. I don't like people who talk in movies either, but hey why call them names or label them? Right?! I love FThisMovie website! lets keep it classy.

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  3. Strangely enough “If You Asked Me To” is the closing credits song on “License to Kill” (Patti LaBelle version not Celine Dion). Coincidence? I think not!

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  4. I really enjoyed this and last week. It was interesting to me that some of the things on this list are probably exclusively American. Like the coke machine thing. That to me sounds insane. Also here you are pretty nuts if you don't go to Sainsbury's or Tesco to buy popcorn or whatever you want to nibble/drink. It is SO much cheaper. You get a massive bag of popcorn for £1! Pre show entertainment isn't a thing ao if you get there early you still get to hear songs you don't hear played in public elsewhere. The booking thing, here you can book if you want to or you can sit wherever if you want to. I like sitting where I want. Because liberty.

    Some of them sound nice like the lounges. The food I think is really expensive with eating in the screen. Unless you go to the special screening where you get a movie ticket for £3 & they serve tea and bisquits free. Have you ever heard anything more English? I can't wait to try it. The layout of that picture looks great. I need to go to more cinemas as I always like seeing new layouts.

    I really want to come to Chicago, go to a few movies and see what other things that are different!

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    1. WHAT???? Are you telling me that in Britain you are ALLOWED to bring in popcorn from the outside? In American there are mob enforcers stationed at the door to ensure you must buy the theatre's concessions at their ghastly inflated prices. Capitalism!

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    3. A British person should never be deprived to bring packed lunches! Sounds like those people need a British granny deprived of their wrapped up ham and cucumber sandwhiches to sort them out.

      I went to a five guys testerday Adam and tried Vanilla and cherry coke from the coke freestyler. Very strange but was glad I tried it.

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  5. People talking on their cell phones and crying kids being brought by their parents to rated R films; hands down why I stopped going to prime time late shows at the theater. I always go to the earliest showing possible. Yes, I'm missing out on the large audience experience but it got to a point where I just couldn't enjoy the films anymore.

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    1. I like the large audeince experience too but the sad fact is the large audience doesn't have good movie etiquette anymore. The real movie watchers go during off peak times.

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  7. I have to agree about 3d!

    I just dont get it, 30% light loss for a start, then the way cameras work with the depth of field and the out of focus background, I find myself not knowing what to focus my eyes onto and with them moving in and out of focus and straining to see whats going on I firstly don't enjoy it and secondly usually end up with a headache, Films in 2d with Depth of field can look Beautiful, 3d is never beautifull. At best its distracting and at worse a gimmick that gives me a eye strain and dont get me started on Retro fitted 3d films that just look blocky and wrong
    And lastly just like Chaybee said, lighting up the room playing on your phones really winds me up. Turn the Bloody phones off! Ps say that last part with a British Accent

    Rant over

    Great column Adam, Cheers

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    1. Hmmm...I agree for the most part, and definitely stay away from all post-converted 3D, but what came to mind was Gravity. If it weren't for the 3D and amazing sound mix I would have probably disliked it. A couple others of note - MBV 3D was so much fun in the theater as was Hansel and Gretel. The best though - Hugo. It was F-ing brilliant!

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    2. Fair enough. Its a personal thing and its all about your own eyes, rather than finding it an immerse experience I find it distracting, 3d just doesn't work for me, there are studies ive read about how when they cut scenes on a properly thought out real 3d movie they gently move your focus back to where it should be before the next cut, if done incorrectly then your eyes do all the work and you keep refocusing and that's what causes eye strain,

      I wished it did work for me, but when given the choice I go for 2d everytime on the biggest screen ;)

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    3. I hear you Dennis. I have a friend who simply cannot watch 3D because he eyes won't allow it so that must be frustrating. Maybe the Occulus Rift will solve everything!

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    5. I suffered from that rift last year being the only person I know who liked Oculus.

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    6. I did watch Gravity in 3d imax because I had to because thats the ultimate way to see that movie and because of all the hype and I wanted the full experience, Possibly because the 3d was mainly in the foreground and the sky and earth was mainly the back drop and there wasent as much focus moving back and forth this film worked as the best 3d film expereince I have seen though not the best actual film, if I remember correctly Adam also agrees here, but as a 3d film it was the best I have seen. I more recently did the same for Godzilla in Imax 3d and I hated the effect. My Bluray in 2d is more enjoyable for me and looks miles better

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  8. The absolute worst is when you go to a movie that just happens to coincide with a ton of teenage girls being there and they keep changing seats constantly throughout to see different groups.

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  9. Good list there Adam, I agree with your points on pre-show entertainment although I've come to deal with the pre show entertainment, except the amc red dots- your not that clever AMC erase your dots!

    My own #1 worst thing I hate at movie theatres is the horror movie going experience, specifically when people are screaming at things when nothing remotely scary is happening. Pre-assigned seating though I love for IMAX screenings or big budget action movies where I simply MUST have that dead center seat.

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    1. I love the fact that I can buy tickets and pick my exact seat on my phone days in advance.

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  10. The only one on this list that really gets me is when people sit around me with a near empty theater, where am I supposed to put my feet, and ash my cigar?! amiright?!

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  11. Adam, I agree with the comments you made about preshow entertainment and I think it is stupid when they have advertisements for television shows. I also dislike when people talk during movies and make comments. It bugs me when someone makes me move or get up to let them go out of the row and then again TO GO BACK TO THEIR SEAT !


































    Adam, I enjoyed reading your comments about what you don't like about going to the movies. I don't like Three things about going to the movies: 1) People who make comments very loudly during the movie who usually happen to be sitting near me 2) advertisements for television shows during the previews 3) people who get up during the movie and I have to get up or move to let the in and out of the aisle.




    '

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I've got one you left out - when little kids are talking during Furious 7 :-)

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