Going to the Movie Theater, A Dying Thrill
Catching a flick at the local movie theater is time-honored tradition and typically an enjoyable experience. But sometimes our aspirations of escaping reality in a cinematic adventure turn to terror. These are a few of the undesirably qualities of modern movie theaters that truly grind my gears.
Theater Econ 101
Most middle-aged people remember paying under $5.00 for a movie ticket, while most seniors remember around $1.00 - $2.00. While I’m sure older generations complained when tickets jumped to $5.00, just as they did when gas broke $1.00, most of us would kill for either. Theaters today will have the average attendee shelling out anywhere from $8.00 - $10.00 (usually matinees still cut you a break, usually…). It’s something that everyone complains about, but still forks out the money to participate. When did this inexpensive form of entertainment transfigure into a perk that only the upper class can afford?
It’s pure insanity, especially when you can buy a more enhanced cut of the film on Blu-ray, for generally the price of just one ticket. But what can I say; we pay for the experience of seeing them on the big screen with an audience.
But the price gouging does not stop there, especially if you're craving a snack or beverage to fulfill any mid-movie cravings. Few other establishments could get away with such a travesty of soaring well past 100% mark up and doubling your overall bill for such menial portions, which could have easily been prepared at home for a fraction of the cost.
Upon paying, you'd have thought that filet mignon with a side of gourmet lobster and accompanied by the world's finest imported wine were on the way, but no. It's just a SMALL popcorn and SMALL coke, which is more ice than drink. The logical solution would be to purchase these goods in advance, but god-forbid you purchase these provisions before hand and bring your own to save some money.
If you can afford to make it past the ticket-snatching guardian, you may be thinking that salvation is mere steps away. You’ve emptied your life’s savings or children’s college funds, got your $100 snacks and are finally ready to enjoy the featured film. This should be where you can finally breathe some sighs of relief, but it’s only now that the theater and those within show their true colors.
The Dim Blue Glow
Everything may be going well after nestling into a seat, but as the trailers begin to play it happens. Like a heard of cackling jackals, the teens start funneling in using their cellphones to light their way. Take those mobile devices and couple them with a generation that seems to possess a complete disregard for everyone around them, and you might as well have someone slap you through the entire movie. Not only is whispering unheard of for this group, but very few seem to care that you've paid to watch the movie (actually had a kid sitting directly behind me and try to explain the plot line of the entire Harry Potter series to his ditzy teen girlfriend during Part 2 of the seventh installment).
But the habitual way younger generations cannot unglue themselves from their phones can ruin any theatrical movie outing. Don't get me wrong, I have a cell phone and like the rest of us, are very much dependent on it. However, when I pay to watch a movie, I watch the damn movie and get back to whoever may have contacted me during the two hour period following its conclusion.
While they're the most guilty party, this phenomenon isn't just limited to teens. I not only witness adults texting, but far worse is when they talk on their phones during the movie. When did such a simple thing as respecting those around you become such a dated quality? After all, we've all forfeited a decent sum of money and it certainly wasn't to have a mannerless individual loudly shoot the breeze next to us. When that message comes across the screen to request that you silence your cell phone, I want to stand up and reaffirm with all those present that they were paying attention and comprehended the theater's request.
Call me old fashion, but I welcome a return to the simple things in life, such as common courtesy.
Dragged into New Dimensions
Let's conclude with a "feature" of modern cinema that I just cannot stand. To be brutally honest, it’s a stupid fad that lost its novelty very quickly. Why even try to resurrect a gimmick that failed when originally introduced? Hollywood has attempted infusions of three-dimensional technology and it’s never trended the way they’ve hoped. I remember seeing ads to "experience" movies in 3D like never before, when during this newest cycle at attempting to revamp the technology. But what followed was utter disappointed when actually sitting through a full-length movie. I feel like it actually takes away from the experience, as the colors aren’t as defined and my head typically begins to a hurt midway through from the eyestrain.
Although it does not seem to be growing in popularity, the number of 3D compatible movies are increasing. It doesn’t even make sense because few people prefer stepping beyond two dimensions, which it’s now stealing showing slots from. This may not be a problem for cinemas in city centers or more populated areas, but when you rely on your small local town theater that only has three screens, it can be quite irritating. When you and your significant other are attempting to fit a cinematic experience into a busy weekly schedule, nothing is more frustrating than a 3D-only block showing on your only free day.
But it doesn’t stop there, because if you actually decide to cave and accommodate the theater and the annoying gimmick, they add an additional charge. That’s right, so not only would I be in for an unavoidable headache, but also required to shell out even more of my hard-earned money to meet their already ridiculously steep admissions fee. Hopefully 3D will do us all a favor and fade into the shadows, where it will lay dormant before returning once more. It’s like Dracula, you can keep putting it down, but it will inevitably come back.
With these common complaints consistent with all who attend, it's no wonder that modern movie theaters often struggle to keep up attendance. The advent of home theater technology certainly does not help, as it has become more cost effective to watch within the confines of your own living room. What does the future hold for theatrical showings? I'm not sure, but as long as Hollywood feeds them and they provide a haven to escape the stresses of life, we'll continue to show up.