Why Going To The Movies Doesn’t Suck

In a recent episode of the film podcast, Battleship Pretension, the hosts discussed the negative aspects of going to the cinema. Simply put, why it sucks to see movies in theatres.

Many, including myself, would agree with some of the arguments hosts David Bax, Tyler Smith and guest Danforth France raised, however, their conclusion, that it may not be worth seeing films in theatres I cannot agree with.

They discussed personal experiences that I am sure we are all familiar with: people talking, cell phones going off and the far too common texting. While I can certainly relate to all these complaints (which by the way annoy me greatly), I can never stop seeing films in the theatres, and I plan to continue being first in line opening night.

No matter the size of the TV, or how loud your speakers are, they can never match a great cinema experience.

When I saw Up last year, the first 10 minutes affected me far more because everyone in the cinema was feeling the same thing. Say what you will about Avatar but the experience on opening night was one that would be impossible to duplicate at home. Instead of just being myself in my basement, we were hundreds all in awe, immersed in this fantasy world, which for the next two hours became almost real.

In a theatre, we feed off each others energy, and it amplifies the enjoyment of a film.

I have heard over and over on film blogs and podcasts, that going to the theatre is no longer worthwhile and viewing a film on a big screen TV is easier and with less likelihood of annoyance. This has always bothered me; the idea that the real film fans, the ones whose main passions are film are no longer going to the cinema, yet the average films goers are still going en masse. As much as the insensitivity and general ignorance of other people which sometimes bubbles to the surface during movies bothers me, I could never pass up seeing a great film in a theatre.

It’s sad but its also something that can’t be fixed easily. People will always talk and text during films, but as fans it is up to us as a group to speak out against these people during showings. I do not believe that going to the theatres is only for tradition, as stated on Battleship Pretension. We go because we love film and nothing is as enjoyable as sharing a great piece of cinema with your fellow film lovers.

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29 Responses to Why Going To The Movies Doesn’t Suck

  1. Jamie Walton says:

    People will always talk and text during films? Maybe I’m lucky, but I always go to the same cinema and have never had anybody talk or text during the film. Certainly not text near me, anyway, but nobody talks. Not in any of the times I’ve been there, and I’ve been there lots of times.

    • I saw from your email Jamie that you live in the UK, and I have actually never had a problem when I’ve seen films in England. I don’t know why, but when I see films in Ottawa, every time I have an issue with someone talking or texting, maybe people appreciate it more in England.

      • Wil Huff says:

        I’m in Boston and I rarely have that problem. Which is to be expected in the smaller art-house theaters but even at the big multiplex people are usually pretty well behaved. I don’t know if its because of the movies I see or because I usually go to a matinee but the last film I had a problem at was Drag Me to Hell, where a group of teenagers talked loudly for the first 20 minutes before some guy leveled a couple of death threats and shut them up.

      • I had a similar experience with Drag me to Hell, fortunately the crowd was so loud with gasps and laughter that the rude people talking the whole time were drowned out.

  2. Wayne Marshall says:

    I absolutely love going to the theater to see a movie. The experience and excitement of seeing a brand new film is unmatched. Sitting in the dark, surrounded by others who are just as excited as me is a unique experience that I have loved since being a child.
    Suddenly a light from nowhere flashes in your peripheral vision and the magic is stopped.
    The experience I pay for is ruined by some inconsiderate idiot, all so they can “lol” at some text they received. All I can think about now is when it will flash again and if their friends will start answering texts as well.
    I live in a city and you say we have to “speak out against these people” but I won’t risk a confrontation that could lead to physical harm over ignorance.
    Increasingly, I find myself skipping the theater and waiting for the blu-ray. I also end up saving $20-$60 overall and get to keep the film.
    I hate that I am being run out of one of my all time favorite entertainment options. Nothing will change unless the theaters get behind the issue and figure out a way to enforce the no texting rule. I don’t see this happening though, so I will reserve my theater trips to the isolated incident for that overwhelming desire to see it sooner than later.
    I find that the more I go and get annoyed by the inconsideration of others, the fewer movies come out that really make me want to take the chance.

    • I often feel the same thing, the risk of getting in a fight with someone is high when you speak out against them. Usually it bothers me so much I can’t stop myself, and so far nothing has happened, luckily. Lately I have been going to art house theaters almost exclusively and I haven’t had any problem at those yet.

      While I call myself a film snob, I do get very excited about films, all kinds, and that keeps me from being able to wait to see a film on DVD.

      • Wayne Marshall says:

        If it were just me, I would probably deal with it more.
        Having to pay for 3 additional tickets for the family really makes the stay at home argument more valid most of the time.
        Also, everything coming out in “eye popping 3D” helps with the stay at home option as well.

      • I understand that completely, and to think of how expensive a kids birthday party could be with the 3D charge added to the film, it is getting ridiculous.

    • johandav says:

      If you skip the movie in the theater and buy to blu-ray instead you SAVE $20 – $60? Do you have to go with (and pay for) five other people? How much do you spend going to the movies if buying a blu-ray disc is actually $20 – $60 cheaper? $80? You know, you’re not REQUIRED to buy the largest size popcorn and soda!
      : ^ )

      • Wayne Marshall says:

        Obviously I am not “REQUIRED” to buy the largest size popcorn and soda. The range took that into account as sometimes we will buy snacks for all 4 of us or that going to the movie will require us to go out to eat since food preparation at home is not possible given the time of the show.
        I have a family and for the 4 of us to go to a movie at night is between $40 – $54 for tickets alone. If we decide to get snacks it is at least another $20 for all of us to get shared popcorn and sodas for each of us as we all have different preferences when it comes to beverages. Generally there is only a difference of about a dollar between the smallest and the largest sizes of popcorn and soda choices anyway.
        Of course, if the movie is not appropriate for kids and my wife and I want to go see something then the price goes up even more. What we save in the cost of two less tickets we more than make up for in babysitter costs.
        So, generally we skip the theater unless we can’t wait to see the film (i.e. Toy Story 3) and we go to a matinee. Even Toy Story 3′s showing found us flanked on either side by continuous phone checkers and texters.
        Urgh

  3. Damian says:

    Most (but not all) of the time, I’m able to tune out texting, talking, etc.
    I can enjoy the movie, if it’s enjoyable.
    Going to the movies doesn’t suck. But a lot of the movies do.

  4. Abby says:

    “People will always talk and text during films”? Really? I won’t. I’m taking it you won’t. You really think everyone else on Earth is inferior to us?

    Yeah, I do too.

    I’ll agree that seeing movies with a good crowd can be a good experience, but it’s just not worth it to me. Even bringing my cell phone jammer to the cinema (oh yes, I do!), there are still too many idiots. I can sit close enough to my 10′ screen at home to have a much better experience than the average one out.

    When I do go out to see a movie, I wait a few weeks because a) it’s cheaper (cinema chain discounts for card holders after a while) and b) the crowd is smaller, which makes people more accountable for their assishness.

  5. Jimbeau says:

    I love the experience of seeing a movie in a theater. I am fortunate in that the multiplex I frequent (which shows some “arthouse” flicks and better Bollywood productions) usually begins showing movies at 10 or 11 o’clock in the mornings, and I go on week days, so there typically aren’t many others in the place. And that early, it only costs $5! Big screen, silence, darkness: The perfect way to see a movie!

  6. Annie says:

    As for texting/talking, the same problems can occur at home. You can be interrupted by a phone ringing, or by cars in the street, or by other people coming in/out of the room. At least at the movies, most people know how they should behave. At home, not everyone is necessarily as invested in the film experience.

  7. denniS says:

    Don’t you or your colleagues proofread before you post? “Worthwhile” is one word. It would be “whose” not “who’s.” There’s more. I know everyone hates grammar nazis, but come on.
    As to your point, I appreciate your view on the issue. However, too many people seem to think the world is their living room; especially here in the states.

  8. bkwriter4life says:

    I think a big reason that people don’t go to the cinema is, as one person said, most of the movies suck. I love watching moving pictures like nobody’s business! But to pay $13 for a movie with a mediocre plot with not too interesting actors, produced and directed by people I’m not a big fan of? Yeah, I’ll wait for it on DVD. But here’s the thing – I do watch films that need that cinematic experience like, Grindhouse, Machete, Avatar, Paranormal Activity, Toy Story 3, or Inception. I don’t think I need to watch a romantic comedy on the big screen, ever. Action films like The Expendables (have not seen but it’s an example) are worth it to watch on the big screen for the Experience! I don’t think it’s worth it to watch every single feature on opening weekend, especially with crazy movie ticket prices (especially in NYC). Call me cheap, but if there’s no value in watching it on the big screen, I’m Netflix-ing it.
    As for the texting and talking, depending on which movie theater one attends as well as the feature playing, this is not really an issue in New York City. This isn’t even a factor when I watch a movie but where I see it (neighborhood theater) is.
    People who really love watching movies are being choosier with what films they decide to watch on screen; I don’t think they are giving up on watching movies in theaters altogether. It’s about comfort, experience, and money.

  9. Andrew says:

    I love goin’ to the movies.

    If people talk, I tell them to shut up, early on. I’m an equal-opportunity barker! Most people hate confrontation, I’ve found. It’s part of living…I just can’t live with myself if I try and turn the other cheek. I’m in Boston, and usually go to the Park Street Loews. I dunno maybe I’d get shot in LA or something….

  10. Scaramouche says:

    It’s just not worth it anymore because of the talking, texting, telephone chatting, etc. that goes on. Unless you look like Hulk Hogan, you can’t effectively shush people without risking getting in a huge verbal or physical confrontation. To suggest that people do so is so naive I wonder if the author has ever tried it (or if he looks like Hulk Hogan). I haven’t been to a theater for years, and I don’t miss it. At home, I can control the ambience and watch the movie in peace. When my current conventional tv finally dies, I’m going to replace it with a large-screen high-definition model that will eliminate the need to ever see a movie in a crowd again. As for the ‘shared experience,’ the idea, almost always brought out by those advocating going out to see movies, that being surrounded by a mob of strangers would enhance my enjoyment has always puzzled me. I know perfectly well whether something is funny or frightening, and I don’t need to hear others laughing or gasping to clue me in. I’m usually trying to tune them out so I can hear what’s being said by the actors.

    • I do not look like Hulk Hogan (very glad too), in fact I am skinny and tall but I do always say something. Every time I see a film at a multiplex I will have to ask someone to stop talking, sometimes it is intimidating, other times it is not. I do worry about getting a punch in the face from saying something, but for me I can’t sit through a film hearing people talking or seeing the lights of a phone.

  11. Angela says:

    I have to agree with you, there really is nothing quite like seeing a movie – especially during the opening weekend – in the theatre. While I do enjoy the re-viewing of a film in the privacy of my own home, some times there are films that just need to be seen on that big screen. The audience’s reactions create a communal experience that simply can’t be duplicated. Some of my best movie experiences have been in the audience of a crowded theatre all there for one sole purpose – the enjoyment of the art of film. It can continue to get even more expensive, I doubt I will ever give up this joy. I am, however, getting more picky now about what I see; reserving the movies that are not high on my list for my Netflix queue.

    Angela

  12. I agree. It’s one thing to laugh by yourself or scream by yourself, but it’s a COMPLETELY different experience to have it amplified by the group around you. Large groups of people laughing or screaming around you has a different feel. You really are feeding off one another.

    Also, there’s the smell of popcorn (both fresh and stale) that you can’t duplicate at home.

    Well done, Daniel. Good post.

  13. Shahbazidas says:

    I am greatly annoyed by people who are texting or checking the time on their phones. I am astounded by a person’s need to be “connected” to the world all the time and can’t offer up two hours of their lives to be immersed in a (hopefully) great experience.

    I have experienced different kinds of annoyances and reacted differently according to them. There’s texting, talking, dumb comments shouted at the screen, popcorn thrown and candy thrown (sometimes by me though, to shut people up). I’ve shushed, I’ve given “the stare”, I’ve even gotten up and asked people to STFU. But I still go to the cinema. Because I love it. L O V E.

    Three of my greatest experiences were where I stood up and roared like a Spartan warrior before the first showing of the film “300″ and there was grand laughter and yelling as well. And it wasn’t at me, people thought it was funny.

    And then I also once shouted out Christian Bale’s name before the showing of “The Dark Knight” and the audience cheered and roared again.

    And for the more subtle visits to the cinema, I sat until after the credits rolled and cried, when “Gone Baby Gone” had ended.

    Now, with these first two examples, it sounds like I’m just as great a pestilence as the ones I have “combatted” myself, but they were “appropriate” for the situations, because there was great emotion and excitement for the films in the audience. I’m sure there had been people who thought I was a gigantic buffoon, but it’s context based reactions and very, very seldom.

    There’s no real reason, why people need to text their friends or talk on the phone, unless some guy’s wife is in labour, but come on! Why are you at the movies?? Go to the hospital!! NOW! And let me watch my movie.

    There’s too little knowledge about decent behaviour in the public forum and this spawns the creatures known as “idiots”. In Denmark, from where I hail (such an awesome way of saying “I’m from Denmark), it’s not allowed by the cinema to block signals, because of “security meassures”. In case someone needs to call 9/11 (or 112 as it is here). But that could easily be solved with a panic button by the door. If there’s misuse, fine the beastard (remove the “e” and discover my true sentiments).

    I do, however, enjoy more positive experiences at the cinema than negative. And I also choose the venue and adapt my temper according to it. If I go to a Cinemaxx, I expect someone to scream, throw up, call someone and get into a fight. Not necessarily in that order. But if the negative experiences begin to outweigh the positive ones… I’m gonna stay at home. And I hate that. Because that means that the funcktards (remove the “n” to… you know the drill) have won.

  14. Wayne Kotke says:

    Daniel,

    I’m afraid I will have to respectfully disagree with you here on just about every point. Sadly, the most common argument in favor of seeing movies in a theater — that you miss out on the communal/social experience — is the also the very factor that causes people to talk to each other constantly during the film. Going to the movies is a social experience, and a big part of socializing is talking. This is at the very root of why many people think it’s strange to see movies alone. The social norm is that you go to the movie with a friend, relative, or significant other so that you and the other person can share the experience. And how do we as humans generally share experiences with one another? Through talking. It would be nice if we could communicate telepathically, but it doesn’t work that way. Our natural instict when we are amongst friends and loved ones is to talk.

    When I go to a movie, I just want to see and hear the movie. That’s why I generally go alone. The moviegoing experience, to me, should be about concentrating on the film rather than “hanging out” with the person next to you. The extent to which you are paying attention to those around you is the extent to which you are not concentrating on the thing you ostensibly paid money to see, i.e. the movie itself.

    And can we please just be honest about cineplexes/multiplexes, which is where most of us are seeing movies nowadays? They suck. They’re generally ugly, impersonal, disorienting places where we are bombarded with advertisements from all directions and absolutely everything is overpriced. As a comedian remarked years ago, the movie palaces of yore have been replaced with “a concrete bunker at the end of the mall.” They’re not fun, inviting places to be.

    Beyond all this, I am of the opinion that audiences, even the well-behaved ones, are generally making movies worse and worse. Audiences, at least the ones I encounter, seem to love formulaic, predictable junk — the more formulaic and predictable, the better. They love to be told what they already know. They love cliches. They love stereotypes. They hate and fear anything original. They hate to be challenged. They hate to have to make up their own minds about anything. In short, as the saying goes, the masses are asses. It seems like every time I go to the movies, I am reminded just how bad the general public’s taste is and how narrow and unforgiving their standards are. The public demands lowest-common-denominator schlock, and Hollywood is only too happy to churn it out by the gallon. Every visit to the cineplex is a grim reminder of this.

    I realize I’m coming off like an elitist and a snob. I can’t help it. That’s how I feel.

    • I agree with your statement about multiplexes, in fact I wrote a post recently about my love for the art house cinema. Original films can do well with audiences, just look at District 9, Avatar, Inception but it is true, usually they are not.

      While I do see many films alone, I do like to seem some with friends. I disagree with you, you can still share a feeling with the entire audience without any audible sound.

  15. Amy says:

    I love going to the theater, but like some of the people above have said, I’m less wiling to pay for a movie that I’m not so sure I’ll like. And ultimately, it’s more time efficient to watch a film at home, than plan out what time and where you have to go to watch it. Once your film is in your download queue, or you’ve gotten the rental or bought the dvd, you can watch it whenever you can… be it at midnight, before going to bed, or at 3am on a weekend. It’s just… much more convenient when most of the time, work consumes so much of your time.

    But when you gotta go, you go and enjoy it.

  16. stroogie says:

    I, too, feel strangely lucky that I haven’t had the level of rotten movie-going experiences that David, Tyler, and Danforth have. I was a projectionist at an Omnimax for a couple years, and I had a few incidents there, eg: a woman taking pictures WITH A FLASH, but that made me laugh at her audacity more than choke on my rage. At Harry Potter last week, a girl in front of me took out her phone for about 30 seconds and then put it back (31 seconds, and I may have thought about tapping her on the shoulder).

    Oh! I remember! There were a couple drunk people at a showing of the Kurt Cobain documentary “About a Son,” and I had to tell them that everyone could hear them. They got bored a few minutes later and left.

    I don’t think the people of St. Louis are any more considerate than the citizens of LA–they’re atrocious drivers for one thing, a fact backed up by just about every friend I’ve ever had who’s moved here from another city. Of course, I don’t go to the movies often, given my budget, so maybe that has something to do with it. Like most people, I’d love to see everything on the big screen, but I have to pick and choose the films that really need it, and catch up on the rest through DVD and Netflix.

  17. Mark says:

    I believe that going to the movies is a good social experience. It allows people to share their views on the movie and have more fun while watching the movie

  18. Mark says:

    I also always have more fun going to the movies with friends rather than reading a book or renting a dvd

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