I know. I know. I’m about to do that thing again where I’m bemoaning that something’s changed, and it’s not like it used to be. But, seriously! Come on. Have you been to a movie theater lately? And I’ll be honest, I don’t have the fondest memories of the theater experience itself while growing up. The movies? Yes! The theaters? No.
First of all, it used to be that if the newspaper listed a movie as starting at 4:45pm, IT STARTED AT 4:45pm! If you walked in at 4:47, then you’d missed 2 minutes of the movie. It was that simple. Do you remember that? My father always had a knack for getting us to the theater with only a couple minutes to spare, which was typically on a weekend, and new releases drew BIG crowds.
Which brings us to the auditoriums. They seem mighty big in my memory. Theater auditoriums had to be big for first run or new features because they had to pack crowds in. The size of the auditorium meant they only had so much space to work with, so pack in as many people as possible. There was a slight drop in elevation from the top of the auditorium to the bottom, only it was never enough to offset when someone tall sat in front of you (especially if you were a child) or someone with eighties hair. Oh, my God. Eighties hair. It was one of the few times I wanted to bring a pair of scissors or a blowtorch to a movie with me.
Concession prices were still high, and when you asked for butter, or even extra butter as I was inclined to request, they put it under the little butter pump, and pumped enough for one little circuit around the top perimeter. Why? Because they didn’t give a hump if you got the butter flavor or not. I also think they enjoyed torturing children who asked for butter, then deliberately not giving it to them while they stood there with a cheeky, evil grin. Bastards.
I get to add my own butter flavored oil thing liquid-that-passes-for-butter these days, and that’s an actual improvement. Plus, if they have little plastic cups, you can bring extra with you for when you’ve gotten halfway through your bucket!
These days, when I decide to see a film as I did this past Saturday when John Wick 2 caught my interest, I show up a minute or two before the start time. Why? Because I know I still have 15 minutes before the damn thing is going to begin, and I’m not inclined to watch commercials. I don’t watch regular TV in order to avoid commercials, so I’m not going to sit in a theater and watch them.
Theater auditoriums have gotten smaller, and I’m very okay with that after the invention of stadium seating. That was an AMAZING innovation! Nobody, even if they’re a throwback with eighties hair, is going to block your view anymore. I’m not quite sure about these seats that recline with footrests, but I’m not going to complain about it either.
One thing I noticed going to the local theater this past weekend is something new they’re doing at the ticket counter. Instead of having enough employees at the counter selling tickets, there was one. ONE. Why only one on a busy Saturday? Because they had three automated ticket kiosks set up that didn’t require an employee.
This might seem like a good way to cut down on employee costs, which is crappy for the employees, but it also allowed a family to buy tickets for an R rated movie, and bring their 4-year-old child into the theater to watch John Wick 2. This was a 4-year-old child who talked and squirmed for most of the film, a film where more people were shot in the head and killed than in any film I can remember in a long time.
But that’s a whole other complaint. I remember ticket employees watching out for people bringing younger kids into that sort of a movie in the past, or horror movies. Not always, but sometimes. And they’d rightfully not allow them to. Like I said, though, that’s a whole other complaint.
Do any of you out there have any thoughts about how your theater experience has evolved over the years?
Kage Alan is the Wishful Drinking watching, Berlin listening author of the novels “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Sexual Orientation,” “Andy Stevenson Vs. the Lord of the Loins,” and “Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell,” plus short stories “Spacehunters: Master Elite and the Maternal Order of Loganites Beyond Uranus” featured in the “Butt Pirates In Space” anthology, “Twink Ninja Tiger, Flaxen Buns of Fury” featured in the “Butt Ninjas From Hell” anthology, “It’s A Wonderful Lube” featured in the “Butt Babes In Boyland” anthology, “Chinchilla Chimichangas” in the “Butt Riders On The Range” anthology, the novella, Falling Awake, and “Master Malevolence in: The Tail of the Fluffy Monkey” featured in the “Butt Villains on Vacation” anthology.