Thursday, January 21, 2016

Riske Business: 15 Reasons You See a Movie Multiple Times in Theaters

by Adam Riske
Most recently, I’ve seen The Revanant twice in theaters, Creed three times, Star Wars: The Force Awakens four times and The Hateful Eight five times. This begged the question why do we feel compelled to return again and again to see the same movie we’ve already seen?

You Didn’t Have the Same Praise as the Consensus
There’s nothing more infuriating than seeing a movie that is universally loved and you come out of it not getting the appeal. It’s like everyone is invited to this great party except for you. So you go back to the movie a second time thinking that maybe it’s not the movie but maybe it was your fault for not liking the movie. You make excuses likes “I must have been in a bad mood” or “I need to pay closer attention” and start giving the movie the benefit of the doubt during that second viewing. It’s less about living up to expectations (as yours were high the first go-around) and now it’s about seeing the movie for what it is. I went back and saw It Follows for this reason.

You Were Too Excited
With high expectations sometimes comes disappointment. There are times where I’m so amped for a movie that I’m initially let down by it because it wasn’t the greatest thing ever, which is what I’ve been building the movie up to be in my head during the months leading up to its release. A second viewing is essential to confirm whether that disappointment was warranted or not. This happened with me and Furious 7, which I had so much lead up for (with how they were going to handle Paul Walker’s death, etc.) and I came away from it slightly disappointed the first time. The second time out I liked the movie more.

It’s Comfort Food
There are certain movies you come back to because it gives you the warm and fuzzies just being around it. There are also movies you return to because you want to spend more time in that world that the filmmakers have built. Lastly, you re-watch the movie because you love the characters (they have become your friends in a way) and you want to simply hang-out with them again. This is a major reason I’ve returned so many times to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I want to spend time with Rey and Finn!
There’s Nothing Else Out
There are certain weeks where nothing appealing is released or what is released is not as enticing of an option as simply re-watching something you know that you already love. I saw Jurassic World three times during June 2015 because of this.

You Want to Go Back with People You Know
This one’s pretty straightforward. You see a movie by yourself and love it but want to see it again and share it with the people in your life that you love. Or maybe it’s a movie that you know is perfect for one particular friend and you can’t wait to see how they will react to it. I had this with my parents and Silver Linings Playbook. I couldn’t wait for them to see that movie because it meant so much to me personally.

You Were Tired
You go see a movie after a long day at work and you’re not in the correct mindset to lose yourself to the movie’s world. So you go back and see it again when you have less on your mind and are more willing to go along with the journey that movie is taking. The first time I saw Mad Max: Fury Road, for example, I was super exhausted and underwhelmed because I watched it right after going to a Bulls game.
Lame Theater
Have you ever had it where you went to see a big blockbuster movie but the auditorium the movie was playing in was not up to par? For example, you want to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens but it’s in one of the small theaters with a tiny screen.

You’re Caught Up in the Sweep of the Movie
There are times where I’m so caught up in the moment of a movie that I have to see it a second (or third) time because it’s what is culturally relevant at the time. For example, you see a movie on a Friday night and the first thing you want to do on Saturday morning is to see that movie again. There is nothing else on your mind except wanting to go back and get your fix. This is how I felt after Kill Bill Vol. 1, which is a movie I saw on a Friday night and then turned around (on my way home) to go see again because I was high off the rush of the movie.

It was Fun!/You Like the Way It Made You Feel
Not much to say here. Just sometimes you want to go back to a movie because it made you feel great when you watched it the first time and you want to replicate that feeling. I went back to see Creed right away because no movie in 2015 made me feel as great (and motivated) as that one did.
You Want to See it a Different Way
Maybe you say a movie in 2D but want to check it out in 3D. Or vice versa. I wish I went back and saw The Walk in IMAX 3D! (starts crying)

You’re Bored
It happens all the time. You are at home with nothing to do so you go out to the movies and see something to pass the time. Instead of checking out something new, you return to an old favorite. I have a theater within walking distance of my home and I often see things over and over just because it’s playing nearby.

You Didn’t Understand It
It’s just a movie that you can’t grasp until you’ve seen it through to the end a first time. You go back a second time to see if the movie played fair or to pick up on clues you noticed but couldn’t deduce the first time around. The ones I keep thinking of for this reason are The Matrix (which I didn’t expect to be as heady as it was – I thought it would be a mindless action movie the first time I saw it) or Mulholland Drive (a movie that I fell in love with from an emotional standpoint but needed to see it again to “get it” from an intellectual one)
You Need to Confirm it for your 10 Best List
Sometimes movies are great but they are one and done’s and not all-timers. Often I’ll go back to re-watch a movie I loved to confirm if it’s something I’ll want to watch five years from now. That criteria often dictates if I’ll put a movie on my year-end favorites list or not. This is one reason Bridge of Spies dropped out of my 10 best list for 2015.

You’re in Shock that You Didn’t Like It
I’ve had occasions where I’ve seen a movie I was really looking forward to and absolutely hated it. So, I’ll re-watch the movie over and over again until I like it because the sheer fact that I don’t like it is too crazy for me to comprehend and live with. I’m looking at you, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

An Experience You Can’t Replicate At Home
One reason I see movies several times in the theaters is because I know it will be an experience I can never get again once it’s out of theaters. For example, I can never see The Hateful Eight in 70mm in my living room. Or Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D, etc.
Am I missing any reasons we go see movies several times in theaters? If so, leave a comment below. Also, what is the movie you saw the most times in theaters? Why did you keep going back?


  1. I'm a frequent user of reason #5: "You Want to Go Back with People You Know"
    I took three different (groups of) friends to Orphan to see them experience that ludicrous twist!

  2. I remember seeing Blimp a bunch of times, just to scream out "That's gotta hurt!" during the climatic explosion in the end.

  3. "I have a theater within walking distance of my home..."

    Lucky guy Adam, I would love to have one in walking distance and not being forced to drive at least 20 minutes.

    You clearly have listed more reasons to watch watch a movie several times in theaters than I would have.
    I often rewatch lots of stuff at home for various of the above reasons but I only watch a movie more than once in a theater when I´m pretty happy with that movie, just like Creed or Star Wars.

    There is no film I saw more often in a theater than Peter Weir´s Dead poets society (stop laughing...) in 1990. I watched it between 8 and 10 times and loved it on every occasion. There were lots of personal troubles going on in my life that the movie reflected more or less, so every screening was an emotional rollercoaster for me.

    1. You know, I have never seen Dead Poets. I need to rectify that soon.

    2. I would also like to recommend Dead Poets Society, Adam. It's heavy, but very well made and acted. It contains by far one of my favorite Robin Williams performances, shared with Genie from Aladdin and Sean Maguire from Good Will Hunting. Williams greatly excelled at playing the teacher/mentor type. I give the movie a strong recommendation.

  4. As a broke college student, I rarely have the funds to justify seeing something twice in the theater. 2015 was a particularly bad year for that. The only movies I saw twice were Mad Max and Star Wars. I really want to see the Hateful Eight in 70mm again but I may have to settle for the second run theater in a few weeks because the distance is too far.

  5. Yup, I hear you there. I'd love to go to the movies all the time, but just can't afford it at this point. There is a second run theatre here which is really well priced. Frankly, I rather prefer the atmosphere there too. Popcorn refills!

  6. As a variation of "You Didn’t Understand It," I go to pick up details and watch the movie within its own rhythm. Another reason not listed is to watch a movie from the perspective of a supporting or second-lead character: Prometheus from David's perspective, Edge of Tomorrow from Rita's perspective, and Sicario from Alejandro's perspective.

    1. Interesting...I should try that more often!

    2. I started thinking about this after reading an analysis of Alien from the Alien's perspective. (The premise was that the crew initiated most of the interaction and the Alien was just trying to survive.)

  7. I usually only revisit movies I like. The only movies I saw twice this year were It Follows and Mad Max, because I felt they were experiences I couldn't replicate at home. But there is another scenario, which I'll call "well I've got this coupon." it happens when Regal sends be a coupon that expires in 2 days, and I guess I'll see Dark Knight Rises again.