The Downfall of the Movie-Going Experience

This may not be a novel idea to some of you out there, but having gone to a movie theatre to see a film twice in the past week, and having had relatively crummy experiences, it is an idea that is once again fresh on my mind. The movie-going experience sucks.

Before seeing Rock of Ages and The Cabin in the Woods last week, it had been about a year since I had seen a movie in an actual movie theatre. If people asked me to go to a movie or if I had seen a new movie, I usually just kind of laughed and said that I would wait for RedBox or HBO Go. I rarely gave much more insight.

But deep down, I was harboring some major anti-Cineplex feelings. I had hoped that they would disappear or that I would eventually get over them, but after last week, the feelings are still there and stronger than ever.

Allow me to take you back to where the feelings began, August 27, 2010, opening night of The Last Exorcism. I was beyond thrilled to see this relatively low-budget, low-publicized, horror film for two reasons. The first, I love horror movies, and this one had been praised by many critics, and second, it starred Patrick Fabian, or as many of you probably know him, Professor “I Almost Ruined Zack and Kelly” Lasky. After some serious goading, my then girlfriend, now wife agreed to accompany me. This was going to be my kind of date night.

Since it was opening night, I knew it would be crowded, but never in my life did I think that the 87 minutes I spent in that theatre would ruin my movie-going experience for what very well could be the rest of my life.

The annoyances were many, but the following are the ones that I can’t seem to escape no matter what theatre I go to, what part of town it is in, or what kind of movie I am seeing.

1)    Cell Phones: My goodness. I know that people love their phones and people love being connected, but I have not been to a movie in a few years where at least one person has not answered his or her phone. I will admit that I am guilty of texting during movies, but for someone to feel the phone vibrate and have the chutzpah to answer it and actually have a conversation with the person on the other end is mind blowing. I rarely get the overwhelming desire to dog cuss people that anger me, but in-movie phone talkers might deserve a nice tongue lashing.

2)    Children in Inappropriate Movies: I saw plenty of R rated movies before I was of age. Some with my mother, some with other older people, and some because I looked old enough to buy tickets to. But I never saw anything that would be considered terrifying by most people at the tender of age of three or four. Every movie I’ve seen in theatres recently, save for the Pixars, has had anywhere from some adult themes to full blown graphic content, so why did I scan the theatre during these showings and find not just a few, but multiple sets of parents with legitimately toddler aged children. It’s just not appropriate to have kids in these movies designed for adults, and it’s especially frustrating when they are sitting close to you and you can see their discomfort during violent or sexual scenes. I’m not trying to tell people how to parent; I’m just concerned for the well-being of small children.

3)    The Movie Theatre as Baby-Sitter: To piggyback on the previous reason, one reason you see a lot of kids (in this case tweens) at a theatre on the weekend raising hell and causing a ruckus is because parents believe that they can use their local multiplex as a baby-sitter. They drop their kids off in time for the 7 o’clock show and come back around 10:00 or 10:30, usually about an hour after the movie is over. This gives the particularly scary age range of 11-15 year olds an hour or more to sneak into and disrupt other movies, loiter around the parking lot, trash the bathrooms, and be a grand pain in the ass to the other patrons. There are plenty of good kids in this age range, but I have to go with guilt by association here because the overwhelming majority of kids in this group should not be allowed to attend a movie unsupervised if they act like idiots. The parents get a nice night out, the kids have their share of fun, and the theatre does nothing about the nuisance. Why wouldn’t parents keep doing this?

4)    Whooping and Hollering: So many people think it is hilarious to talk in movies, especially in a very loud voice. Some people even love to yell at the movie itself or scream when something scary is about to happen or shout their thoughts about what is going on onscreen. Why? Nobody did this when I went to movies as a teenager. Nobody did it when I was a kid. Why has it become the norm for people (mainly teenagers and young people) to think it is OK to be such a distraction in a movie? And to top it off, most theatres are so big, it’s impossible to punish the wrongdoers so nobody gets in trouble for it, and it just continues and apparently will do so for a long time.

I know I’m coming across like a bitter old man by giving such harsh criticism of the movie-going experience, but when I have to pay $10-$12 just to see a movie, I don’t want it ruined by the people around me. It’s just not worth it to leave every movie I go to feeling like I got jipped because I wanted to have a nice night out but let other inconsiderate losers ruin it for me.

The road ahead does not look good for huge cinemas that boast 10-20 screens. There are a lot of people who share my grumpy sentiment. There are tons of people who refuse to go anyplace but smaller art house movie theatres. And there are even more that are content to wait for something to come out on Blu-Ray or DVD before they see it. It’s great to watch something from my own couch, on a nice TV, be able to pause it and come back at my leisure, eat and drink my own food that doesn’t put a massive dent in my wallet, and not have to deal with people that oftentimes ruin a night at the movies. I think I’ll take that road from here on out.


Posted on by Warner Russell in Featured, Movies

5 Responses to The Downfall of the Movie-Going Experience

  1. Joseph Williams

    Warner… great post! Several thoughts…

    1) Patrick Fabian may be the scariest person on screen today. We were ingrained to fear him after he predator-ed poor Kelly in Saved by the Bell: The College Years. THEN, he continued to have sketchy roles on so many television programs as murderers, murder suspects, adulterers, and the like (Pushing Daisies, Veronica Mars, Big Love, and so many more). Warning: Apparently, he’s in an episode of Aaron Sorkin’s new show, The Newsroom. Be on Lasky Alert!

    2) I understand your pain, Warner. BUT, I think there are other easier fixes, which for one reason or another, I’ve automatically adapted with in order to still maintain the moviegoing experience, which is still one of my favorite things to do. Attending a movie (even a bad one) in a multiplex is still one of my all-time favorite things to do; it’s practically therapeutic for me whenever I’m stressed, anxious, or exhausted from life. It really is magical. Now, I don’t go to the movies nearly as much as I used to (adult life, hooray!), but when I do go, it’s still just as magical as when I was a little kid going to the $1.50 movie theater in Memphis or the early morning summer kids showings.


    3) I rarely see movies the first weekend they’re out. IF I do, I see them at a less crowded movie theater, during an off-hour, etc. Most of the time, I see a movie several weeks after it’s come out when it is inevitably much less crowded and more chill. This maintains the classic movie-going experience that you yearn for from yesteryear. Is it perfect? No. But it’s pretty darn close.

    So don’t give up on the movies. Adapt a bit. Find that magical moment once again, that hooks you into the movies… even if you don’t go very often, make the ones you do go see count. It’s still worth it.

  2. Alex

    Stopped reading at, “I will admit that I am guilty of texting during movies.” Don’t be part of the problem, man!

  3. chris

    Being cheap I can begin to feel your pain, but must implore you to join me on Summer for $5 at 5PM movies. Including popcorn and flat coke you can expect a wild ride of an audience regardless of the movie quality. I don’t have as high of standards when I’m paying half of what larger stadiums cost and get to enjoy it twice as much.

    Oh yea bit torrent helps too.

  4. CTW

    I concur Warner! People are stupid. I like the Alamo Drafthouse… if you use your phone, they have people monitoring. One offense and you are kicked out.

  5. Pingback: Movie Review: The Intouchables | The Wise Guise

Add a Comment