The Movie Theater – Lasers, iPhones and Bare Feet
As a frequent movie watcher, it never dawned on me that there’s a huge host of people out there who love movies as much as I do, but would never step foot in a theater unless it was such a huge “must-see” that their natural urges let it pass. Reading some of the feedback on the theater question by fellow cinephiles, I realized that all of my little gripes (of which I endure in order to see movies when they launch) have been and will always be deal breakers for movie-goers. The complaints are endless but many of them are a guarantee with the theater. Recently after having a teen (who happened to work at the very theater I attended) come in 10 minutes prior to the ending of Chloe and proceed to be an ass and ruin the movie, I started to feel very much like everyone else. Why pay $9+ a week for this treatment? Why not wait for the Blu-Rays, bootleg the shit out of everything that isn’t that interesting and stick to Netflix? It would make sense for someone who is so easily bothered as me now wouldn’t it?
But the fact remains that if I were to join everyone else in this activity, I would be just as bad as the jackass playing on Facebook with his iPhone mid-movie. Or the nasty chick who puts her stinking, bare feet up on the chair within eye-shot of the person in front of her, or the bored teen who shines a laser on the screen during intense drama. It all adds up to a slow suckling of the Box Office lifeblood. For every asshole, there is a loyal movie-goer who resorts to the LCD/Blu-Ray experience to watch their favorites in peace. For every bootlegger there is another small-time Director whose ill attempt at funding a movie falls short due to “lack of interest”. Is the theater dying? This has been in debate since forever, but does it matter to you? That’s the ultimate question.
Maybe it needs to die, similar to every other archaic construct that has refused to evolve to meet our information age. Really, outside of segregation and film itself, what is different about the movie theaters of today and the ones our grandparents attended? I’m sure people kicked chairs back then with ease, threw food, shone stuff at the screen and did the same rude, selfish things that movie patrons tend to do… like shout out the script or ending for attention. Yes maybe it is time to lay her to rest in lieu of a more personal and endearing experience with the movies we anticipate. The draw of seeing things larger than life pales when you are so wired and ready for that jackass to shine the laser again. The popcorn and $4.00 fountain drink tastes like shit when you feel feet pounding against your back from the un-tethered 6 yr old. Maybe theater does need to die, if it plants to never evolve past these things.
In the future I see the new releases being a paid option to stream directly to our PC’s and Multimedia devices. The larger than life will be solved by some sort of glasses, helmet or device to trick the senses. The point being, the good will remain and the bad (selfish people, bored teens and people’s children) will be gone. While some aspect of the theater will remain, for the few freaks who enjoy the torture, I look forward to the times when I can watch a new movie and give it my full attention.
As for the kid who ran in and ruined our viewing of Chloe, well the manger kindly gave us passes and free amenities to make up for the stunt – let’s hope he lost his job also. As a person who loves the larger than life screen, the loud surround sound and the smell of butter on the popcorn within the stadium seating, I would happily give it all up for some peace of mind when viewing a new release. Yes the theater must evolve, or move on into the past just like everything else that hasn’t.