Harry Potter, Cars 2, and going to the movies

I don’t get to the movies often these days. In the two years since the Little Man was born, I think I’ve been a grand total of three times, two of which have been in the ten months or so. I could say it’s because it is difficult to get away, but that’s not really true. We can get a babysitter when we need one. The truth is that I haven’t been particularly interested in what appears in theaters–and for those movies I am interested in, I have no problem waiting a few months to see the movie on BluRay. The entire glamour of “going to the movies” has evaporated for me.

Yesterday, Kelly and I managed to see the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The last movie I saw in the theater was Deathly Hallows, Part 1 way back in November. The movie was entertaining enough, and the fact that the theater was a virtual ice box was a blessing in the heat we’ve been having. But the hoops you have to jump through just to see the movie were ridiculous. We arrived fifteen minutes before the scheduled start, took our seats and proceded to watch fifteen minutes of advertising disguised as a “pre-show.” I was interested in none of it. This pre-show advertising itself contained “commercials within the commercial” giving it a very recursive feel. Regal Cinema must be concerned people are going to forget where they are because they must have mentioned Regal in an ad every fifteen seconds.

Then, the lights dim slightly at the scheduled start time and we proceeded to sit through 20 minutes worth of previews. In fact, the preview for The Dark Knight was shown twice throughout the run of previews. When that was over, at last, what we came to see finally began. At the very least, I wish that theaters in the U.S. would do what they do in the U.K. (London, at least). There, they list 3 times for each film: the pre-show time, the previews time, and the actual start time. Not that it really matters. I feel as though the first run movie market has pretty much lost me as a consumer, except on those rare occasions, like yesterday, where Kelly and I are trying to escape for a little while.

Or like later today: this morning, we are taking the Little Man to his first movie experience in a theater. We are taking him to see Cars 2. He is already excited about it, and it is for that excitement that I can set aside my frustrations with the movies in general and enjoy taking him to see the movie. It will be fascinating to see what it is like through his eyes.

I don’t know when going to the movies lost it’s glamor for me, but I can tell you what I wish it was like. I wish it was a big deal event, the way it was back in the 40s. I wish everyone got dressed up, that the theaters themselves were glamorous in the their splendor, that the audiences seemed excited before a film began. (Yesterday, they were muted, most of their faces basking in the glow of iPhones, iPads, Droids, almost no one talking.) I wish going to the movies was a real experience, something that made worthwhile that $10.50 or $11 per ticket. But that glamor is gone, lost to the distant past. Movies today, like so much entertainment, is about selling products, be they on screen or in the concession stand.

It’s too bad really. Movies could be a lot of fun if more effort were put into the experience. But what do I care really? I rarely have time for them and most of what I do see isn’t very good these days. I’m probably better off.

3 thoughts on “Harry Potter, Cars 2, and going to the movies

  1. We arrived fifteen minutes before the scheduled start, took our seats and proceded to watch fifteen minutes of advertising disguised as a “pre-show.” I was interested in none of it. This pre-show advertising itself contained “commercials within the commercial” giving it a very recursive feel. Regal Cinema must be concerned people are going to forget where they are because they must have mentioned Regal in an ad every fifteen seconds.

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that most theaters do this sort of “preshow” is common–and the theaters I go to even *encourage* customers to arrive early to watch it.

  2. I have to completely agree. Perhaps the worst part is that for this annoying venture you now need to pay thirty dollars for two people to share the experience, and that does not include snacks of any kind.

    However, if perchance you do want to try and recapture some of that 1940’s mood, try going to the Uptown theater. They only have one screen, but it’s huge, and it is dressed in a massive burgundy curtain. There are gold railed balconies, and old movie posters on the walls. And at least until the recent recession, there were lots of nice little eateries along the same street.

    The Metro stop is right there, so if you want to have an old-fashion movie night, go to dinner and a movie in Cleveland Park. It is the only theater I am still willing to patronize, because it is still worth it, even if the movie isn’t.

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