Box Office Rip-Off

Ah, summer nights. A time for leisure and relaxation. For having fun. Hot summer nights are made for going to the movies. Happy people hanging out. The air smells like hot dogs on the grill. The Fourth of July is just around the corner. It’s time to take your place in line at the box office to see the new thriller, romantic comedy or action picture. So, let’s go to the show!

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, it used to be. But the fun of going to the movies, I’m afraid, has come to an end. Why is this? Let me tell you about a recent Saturday night when my partner and I set out to see a movie.

We were up for it. Had read all the reviews. Knew we were on to a good one. We were feeling psyched. Then we pulled into the parking lot and the excitement began to fizzle.

First of all, forget your “local cinema.” These days it’s the multi-plex featuring approximately twenty screens. The theatre is usually grounded in the middle of one of those BIG STORE “malls.” That’s fine and dandy except for the small detail that there is no damn place to park. So my partner and I have a plan. He drops me off at the box office where I proceed to buy the tickets while he drives around (and around and around) to find a space to park. Once he succeeds he joins me at the door of the theatre where I have tickets in hand.

Let me say something about those tickets. Since it’s later in the evening, the prices are higher. Okay. We expected that. What we didn’t expect though was to pay NINE DOLLARS for one general admission ticket. Since my partner is officially a “senior,” his ticket was only six-fifty. All total, that’s over fifteen bucks for two tickets to see a movie that is one hour and thirty five minutes in length.

Being the gluttons that we are, we proceed to the concession stand. One large diet coke and medium-sized popcorn later, we are out approx. ten bucks. That’s a lot of money for a soda and popped corn kernels. Of course, a “medium” size is actually a large, and a “large” size is actually the right amount if you’re, say, a giant. These gargantuan sizes are a scam so these junk food makers can charge more money. As a result, your waist line expands at about the rate of their bank accounts.

We proceed to the theatre, one of those stadium size jobs. We actually like this feature because it insures us that if someone wearing a cowboy hat sits in front of us, we’ll still be able to see and won’t be forced to sit elsewhere (or have a confrontation with said cowboy). We’ve gotten there early, in plenty of time to find good seats. But really that’s not so good because then we are subjected to the “pre-show,” twenty minutes of loud, obnoxious ads, B movie previews, and vanity interviews with the stars. Oh yeah, there was also an animated short in the guise of a “cartoon” which was really just an ad for the Cartoon Network. I won’t go into to how vulgar it was. Suffice it to say, I really miss Bugs, Daffy and the gang.

Finally the ear-splitting “pre-show” is over. The lights dim and we sit back ready for a couple of previews for A-list movies. Well, we get previews all right. About seven or eight of them, one after the other. On about number six, my partner wonders aloud if we’re ever going to see the film we have paid good money for. About ten minutes later, we get our wish.

Oh, did I mention the fact that the previews for these upcoming summer blockbusters did nothing but convince us that (a. We never want to see the movie, and (b. We don’t need to see the movie now because all of the important plot points were given away in the preview.

After the movie ended, my partner and I felt better. It had been an enjoyable ninety or so minutes. The audience was well-behaved because its members were older and the film was on the serious side. No screaming teenagers and crying babies to ruin our viewing. Being the good patrons that we are, we threw the remainders of our concessions away. The popcorn, by the way, was pretty bad. How hard can it be to make good popcorn? The movie theatre is the place where one used to be able to find good popcorn! It was the pinnacle of popcorn making all of us amateurs strived to achieve before we gave up and bought the microwave stuff.

We walked out into the warm evening. People were milling about, sucking on root beers and frozen yogurt sticks. This was good. Unfortunately, the walk to the car was more like a hike since my partner had to drive to the outer banks to find a parking space. Oh well, we needed the exercise after our junk food feast.

On the way home, we talked about the movie and agreed we liked it. But we also agreed that the theatre and movie industries need to make a few changes:

1. We don’t pay nine bucks a ticket to watch ads. Previews of coming attractions are fine. A Pepsi advertisement to the tune of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” is not.

2. We don’t need supersized sodas and popcorn bags. Obesity in this country is a serious problem. Decrease the size and lower the price.

3. Bring back movie ushers. We were lucky that there were no loud talkers during our movie. But that’s the exception. We need ushers to remind people that a movie is made to watch–in silence.

And to the movie studios: Stop with your ridiculous re-makes of old movies and TV shows. Use some originality in your scripts. Quit turning out stuff that only the dumbest teenagers want to see. You might also join with theatre owners to make going to the movies a pleasurable experience again. Until then, we’ll stick with Net Flix where we can see a good movie in the comfort of our home, for a lot less dollar price. We can park in our own garage without hassle. We can fast foward through the coming attractions. We can place the DVD on “pause” when we need to visit the bathroom.

And our homemade popcorn is a whole lot better, with or without the butter.


  1. says

    Yeah, you nailed it, Redhead…I haven’t gone to the movies for years for all the reasons you mentioned plus one: the ubiquitous cell phone. I don’t know why people think it’s OK to blab on the phone in public settings. I mean, restaurants are bad enough, but they’re places where conversations (hopefully, in normal tones) are expected. The cinema, as you stated, should be devoid of conversations once the film starts, yet the undisciplined and indifferent weenies of today think it’s OK. Add cell phones, on which people think they have to yell loudly enough to be heard on the other end without a damn phone, and you have an intolerably rude situation.

    That situation doesn’t exist in my family room. If it did, I’d act as the usher and kick its ass out the door. Thus, I tend to wait for whatever movies are still worthwhile—and you correctly assert that there are damn few—to come to my home screen via Pay-per-view or HBO. And there ain’t that many worth paying for. I only pay for HBO because they have pretty damn good boxing matches.

    However, I must disagree with you (as usual) on a couple of points.

    I don’t care about the remoteness of the parking. After all, obesity is epidemic in this country today, so why not get some exercise by hiking from the outer banks (last I heard, they were in North Carolina). As I recall, you once complained that we would need a bus to get to a certain Chinese restaurant from where I parked, so I don’t want to hear any more complaints about that.

    If I were to go to a theater to see a movie, which is highly unlikely, I would prefer a large enough drink or container of pseudo-popcorn that I will not have to leave my seat where my lardass is firmly planted for two hours. That’s a hypothetical situation, because I don’t go to the movies; a more realistic scenario would involve a sporting event, at which I get the gigantic size beer so I can sit there until halftime, when I go water my lily while the action temporarily suspended for the halftime leakfest. Once drained, I pick up another gigantic sized beer for the second half. Thus, I don’t agree with you there, either.

    Lastly, I hope you didn’t have to go through all this inconvenience accompanied by the stinging insult of bad popcorn just to see Algore’s recent polemic. The French liked it at Cannes, which should have been a tipper-off (pun intended), and it’s the only film this summer that I can recall having received five stars out of five from our local reviewer, who I believe came over from the movie team at Pravda in a three player deal. (Nikolai Rachimoorov no doubt uses a pseudonym based on a former cinematic James Bond to mask his identity.)

  2. The Redhead says

    Actually, it was the new Al Gore film about global warming. It just warms my liberal heart that you guessed it!

  3. says

    Wow! What a lucky guess! In a year or two, when it comes to the home screen in an easy form to swallow that does not cost any money, I might share my thoughts about it with you. By then, the Greenland coast will probably be back to normal and the conjectures made by Kyoto Al will be moot. Or maybe not. Who knows? (That is the point, is it not?)


    I fixed the problem with the backslashes before apostrophes in comments.


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