We took our time getting our sodas and our popcorn, then we found the exact seat we were looking for and plopped ourselves down with plenty of seats on either side of us. I apologized to my son and his friend for being there so early. And as we saw the same looped commercial for a local eye-care center for the third time, I apologized again. And as we finished our soda and popcorn before the movie ever began, I apologized yet again.
Growing up, part of my summer blockbuster experience was waiting in long lines. Lines across malls. Lines around the block. Lines blocking major intersections. Making small talk with my friends about the awesomeness that awaited us. Leaving two or three hours before a movie even started, anticipating the lines. Oh, those glorious lines. A line meant the movie was awesome, even if it wasn't. A line meant the city was alive. Something was happening and people were lining up to get a gander. Getting through that line was a badge of honor. Sitting in the corner seat in the first row was still great because you had earned the right to be there because you had stood in line and the aching feet were your scars to prove it. The truth is, the mega-plex is to blame. Gone are the days of the one or two screen theaters. Of movies playing once every 2 hours rather than once every 15 minutes. If there is a single theater, it usually plays independent movies, or $3 second run movies. Suburbs are filled with the 12 and 24 and 32 screen theaters and the downtown theater is just a faint memory.
Of course the studios love it because that means more screenings per day which means more money in the pocket. A release on thousands of screens is something to brag about in the halls of Hollywood. And yes for most, it's better. For those who don't see movies as something to plan evenings around, all of this is convenient. But if part of your criteria for seeing a movie is convenience, than I'm sure there are 45 copies of whatever just came out available at a Blockbuster near you. But that ain't me.
To me, movies should be an event. Something to talk about the next day. Something to plan for. Some might argue that there are no lines because there are no good movies anymore, but I'm not buying that. Iron Man was a good movie. A great summer blockbuster. One that I sure as hell would have waited in line for, had there been one. Man, I miss those lines.
For more movie nostalgia, check out Where Were You When and Kansas City's 1973 Cinema.