I saw three movies in various theaters this weekend, the first movies I’d seen in theaters since Christmas. I quickly remembered why I generally wait for things to hit Netflix or HBO. The movies were:
Movie #1: Knocked Up, at the Zanuck Theater on the Fox Lot. Free.
Movie #2: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, at the Mann Criterion in Santa Monica. $10.75 + $3 to park.
Movie #3: Ratatouille, at the AMC in Marina del Rey. $9.75, since their matinee prices stop at 4pm.
The differences were instructive. #1, as it was shown at the studio, was great: No previews, no commercials, started exactly on time, had a polite audience (of entertainment professionals, so that might be biased) and had no technical issues.
But it was basically like going over to a friend’s house, if that friend had a ridiculously huge home theater and refused to pause the movie when you had to go to the bathroom.
#2 was, theater-wise, the worst experience. Half an hour of intrusive commercials before the 8+ previews for Harry Potter ripoffs, which I would have resented if I was trying to carry on a conversation with someone. Which I wasn’t because I’m a doofus and went alone because everyone else I knew who wanted to see it saw it Wednesday.
People constantly running up and down the stairs for more overpriced food, desperately searching for their friends in the dark when they returned. A crying baby at a show that was scheduled to get out after 11pm. For the love of god, get a sitter.
However, I will note that the picture was incredible. That was the first time I’ve seen something digitally projected, and it does live up to the hype. The sound was loud enough to stun a rhino, but that’s pretty standard at this point.
#3 was at least better than #2, but another argument for just staying at home. The price was under $10 for a non-matinee, but that’s only because the theater hasn’t been renovated in years. It’s like an early-90’s time capsule, with falling-apart seats that bear the imprints of a thousand asses.
There were focus issues on a couple reels, and one reel had a bunch of hairs caught in the film for a few very distracting minutes. And of course, since it was an afternoon show of a kids’ movie, there were several small crying and/or very loud and excited children.
I try not to be annoyed with that (as I was with the bawling baby at an 8:30pm show of a PG-13 movie), since it’s part of what you learn to expect at a screening like that, but it reminded me why I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my own home.
That, and how goddamn much it costs. Seriously, two movies for $21.50? That’s more than I pay for a MONTH of Netflix’s 3-at-a-time plan. It would have been over $30 had I seen Knocked Up in a real theater instead of through work.
Movie theater owners wonder why movie attendance is way down. It’s pretty fucking simple: You pay way more than it costs to watch at home for an infinitely less pleasant experience. This is not rocket science.