Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going To The Movies Used To Be Fun, Right?

I just got back from seeing Scream 4 (or Scre4m if you prefer) with a friend. I enjoyed the movie itself quite a bit, but the movie going EXPERIENCE left a lot to be desired. Honestly, I haven't enjoyed going out to the movies for about ten or eleven years now. Not to sound like a grumpy old man, but this new generation of kids could find a way to take the fun out of winning the lottery.

An afternoon movie at my local theater costs about $9.00. Tack on another $11.00 for a soda and popcorn and you're looking at $20.00. That amounts to about 3 months of Netflix streaming or 20 Redbox rentals. Going out to the movies is an INVESTMENT in today's entertainment market when you can get so much entertainment these days free or extremely cheap.

So given the big investment, why does the movie going public insist on taking the experience so lightly? Why do they insist on making the experience so Goddamn terrible for people like me who actually want to enjoy going out to see a movie? Good question...

If you've been to a movie in the last ten years, you probably know what I'm talking about. Today's Scream 4 experience had most of the bullshit I expect when going to see a movie these days:

1. A loud group of six teenage girls sat in the row in front of us, talking and giggling throughout. One of them arrived early to snag the row and...

2. ...the other five teenage girls trickled in over the course of the previews displaying the wonderful tendency people have these days of not showing up before the movie starts.

3. This same group of girls spent the bulk of the movie sending text messages (probably to each other) so we got to battle the wonderfully bright light in the dark theater. It's really fun on your eyes. NOT!

4. A mother with 3 kids under the age of 10 in tow showed up. Apparently she thought that watching a slasher movie with her kids was a great way to bond as a family? (This wasn't nearly as bad as the Hispanic couple with 8 kids under the age of 13 who sat behind us during My Bloody Valentine 3D a few years back, but I digress...)

5. Several people showed up after the movie had already started.

6. 3 younger girls showed up about 20 minutes after the movie started (probably with tickets purchased for another movie) and missed the entire (awesome) opening sequence.

7. We got to witness people getting up and going to the bathroom and missing critical scenes, because apparently no one can hold it for two hours anymore.

8. The 3 young girls I mentioned earlier that snuck in left with about 20 minutes to go before the end of the movie (probably because they didn't understand what was going on from missing the intro).

9. I got to enjoy the company of the lovey dovey couple that comes in late and sits at the end of your row making out and giggling. Despite an abundance of empty rows, hey, what the hell? Welcome to mine!

10. The movie ends. We got to watch the kids who think it's funny to block the projector make shadow puppets on the screen while the credits are rolling.

The only things that were missing from this travesty were...

11. A phone actually rings and a guy answers it and has a full conversation without getting up to leave the theater (that's happened to me plenty of times).

12. The non-English speaking person getting the movie translated for them by a bilingual friend (this happened during a screening of Legally Blonde 2 years ago, successfully making an already bad movie unbearable).

13. Soda cans popping open and chip bags crumpling as the lights go down from the assholes who bring in their own food in backpacks because they can't be bothered to visit the concession stand. The theater's inability to make money on concessions is the reason it costs $20.00 to see a movie these days, people!

14. The one punk kid who buys a ticket, then lets his friends in through a side door when no one is looking so five kids get in for the price of one. Another reason movies are so expensive...

15. And the coup de grace of every movie going experience... *drumroll* The crying baby!

*Heavy Sigh*

Going out to the theater to see a movie WAS fun once, right? Or am I just delusional? Wait... No, it WAS fun once! I remember now...

It was the summer of 1989. I was 16 years old and my friends and I went out to see Batman, Star Trek V, Lethal Weapon 2, Die Hard, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Ghost Busters 2, License To Kill, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Darkman and Dead Poet's Society that year... And those are just the ones I remember! I think Glory and the Hunt For Red October came out that year, too!

I guess it probably helped that we didn't have smart phones (or any phones) in 1989, but I can tell you that we were brought up to not talk when we were at the movies, too. Movies in 1989 were almost always quiet, enjoyable experiences. The theater actually wouldn't let you buy a ticket if you showed up late and no one would even think of bringing a baby to a crowded cinema!

So why has the movie going experience changed so much in 22 years? Sure, we didn't have HULU or Netflix streaming or Redbox and movies weren't $9.00 or $10.00 a ticket then, but a ticket still cost at least $5.50! That was still an investment in a time when you had the option of renting movies on VHS (or Betamax) for $1.00 or $2.00 a night!

I guess the only thing that's different are the moviegoers themselves. The new generation doesn't care about other people and doesn't respect the sanctity of the movie going experience. They are growing up in a world where you can see a movie anywhere these days (even on your phone), so what's the big deal?

In a perfect world, all of these kids and all of the other rude people who ruin movies these days would just stay home. Sadly, at the end of the day, the people who end up staying home are people like me: the ones who are just trying to have a good time and enjoy something they love.

Kinda makes you want to Scre4m, doesn't it?