WARNING: THIS IS ONE OF MY RANTS
Since it’s the holiday season I’ve been going to the movies more often. (I still can’t believe how terrible THOR 2 was.) It used to be you’d take your seat early, the theater was quiet, you relaxed and settled in. It was nice.
Apparently theater owners have decided that wasn’t nice. First came music before the show. That was okay. Non offensive hits introduced by mildly-offensive disc jockey Kris Eric Stevens. Soon the hits gave way to new songs record companies were trying to get you to buy. This practice is still going on in places. Tell me, have you ever, even once, heard a new song at a movie theater that actually became a hit? “Here’s the newest from Sonya Goldschmidt…” “Who?” “…available now on Sony Records.”
And now we have a barrage of video featurettes – featurette being a polite name for blatant commercials. Several theater chains show “First Look,” a pre-packaged mish mosh of making-of clips, trailers, and ads. Michael Douglas effusively waxing on about how great it is to work with Robert DeNiro – like that’s going to make us want to go see a movie that is essentially THE HANGOVER for seniors.
When “First Look” is over they recap. “We took you behind-the-scenes of the great new movie LAST VEGAS, we introduced you to the brand new X-Box, and we met the stars from ABC’s big new hit, BACK IN THE GAME.” As if they were doing us a favor.
After that comes the flashy logo for the theater chain. We really have allegiance to AMC over Landmark. The truth is WE DON’T CARE. Your theater was close and the show time was more convenient. Period. Plus, someone is going to buy out your theater chain in a year anyway and it’ll be something else.
You think you’re finally getting to the previews, but you’re wrong. There are Coke ads. Mazda ads. In LA there are LA TIMES ads. Then there are commercials for one-night-only operas and prize fights the theater is going to show closed-circuit.
Previews yet? Almost. A thirty-second animated dazzling theater chain billboard announcing the previews.
Then a half hour of previews (with the sound often turned up to pain inducing decibel levels), another announcement reminding you to turn off your cellphones, a quick ad to buy gift certificates, a reminder of safety features, two ear-splitting logos for THX and whatever mega sound system they’re using, a thirty-second elaborate theater chain billboard announcing the feature presentation (for a long time AMC showed a young couple sitting in their seats, then plants and trees sprang from the ground lifting their chairs until they were watching while sitting in a forest. Huh???), and then mercifully the movie (unless it’s THOR).
In an attempt to maximize the experience theater chains are offering new features. Loveseats in theaters (maybe the worst idea ever unless you’re on a date with a sure thing), cocktails and waiter service during the film. First off they’re distracting to those around them, and secondly, they just inflate the already inflated price to provide these useless amenities. The novelty of sipping a dry martini while watching BAD GRAMPA wears off pretty quick.
I don’t need espresso bars, I don’t need seventeen varieties of popcorn salt, I sure don’t need loveseats – I want clean theaters, clean rest rooms, unobstructed views, decent sound, the air conditioning not turned up to 30 degrees, screens that aren’t smaller than my iPad, convenient parking, real popcorn, and ushers to monitor the house and toss out cellphone users. I’ll liquor up after the show.
The big question is how to present this to theater owners so they’ll really listen? I know! Do an animated film with bunnies.