The Movie Theatre Survival Guide, Part 2

March 30, 2009 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

If you missed Part One, then shame on you.  Redeem yourself by reading it.

Just to clarify things, this isn’t a survival guide in the vein of Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide or any other survival guide that deals with actually surviving.  There are plenty of books out there that will help you with robot uprisings, nuclear fallout, and similar apocalyptic events.  This is not one of those guides.  Basically, it’s my thoughts on the movie theatre experience, not on how to survive in a movie theatre.  And this is especially not on the subject of what to do if a movie theatre were to try to kill you.  Because, let’s face it, if a movie theatre were to try and kill you, there is no surviving.

Now for Part Deux . . .


I have this issue with time.  Whenever I’m supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, I do my darndest to make sure I’m there on time.  Not late, preferably only a little early, but generally on time.  When it comes to getting to the movie theatre, I HATE BEING LATE.  There are two reasons for this: 1) I want to make sure I can find a decent seat, especially if it’s opening night; 2) I don’t want to miss the trailers.  I know, Number 2 sounds kinda lame, and I know I can just hop on over to the ‘movie trailers’ page on the Apple Quicktime website to see all the latest previews.  However, there are instances when a trailer to an anticipated movie will appear first in the theatre, then online a few days later.  And I want to be among the first.

So, what should be taken into account when making sure you arrive at the theatre on time?  Well, the first thing you should ask yourself is: “Is it opening weekend?”  If the answer is ‘Yes’, then arrive at least 30 minutes early.   Actually, you’ll want to get there anywhere from 45 minutes before showtime to an hour and a half, depending on a few other factors.

Location, parking, and type of movie are what you need to keep in mind when planning your trip to the theatre.  If you’re within walking distance, then that’s great; you can eliminate the ‘parking’ segment.  If you live far away enough to have to drive, then allow yourself a few extra minutes to handle the parking situation.  For example, I used to live about 20 minutes away(by car)  from my favorite movie theatre.  The theatre was nestled right behind the local mall, and there always seemed to be plenty of parking.  I say ‘seemed’ because although there were probably close to a thousand spaces, all the good ones were almost always taken.  It’s not unusual to find people driving around the parking lot for half an hour looking for ‘just the right spot’.

It doesn’t exist.

OK, maybe it does, but it certainly doesn’t belong to you; you’ll have to learn to share.  Often times, I’d park a good distance away, in a lot that required you to walk a couple of minutes to the theatre.  I had no problem with this, and neither should you.  A parking spot is a parking spot, as long as you feel comfortable leaving your vehicle there.  Actually, this would apply to most parking situations, not just the theatre.  Please, don’t be one of those lurkers who sit and wait in the car for someone to pull out of a spot.  Find your own f***ing spot.

If the movie you’re going to see is a highly anticipated one (like the upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), then expect to wait close to an hour or more.  If you attend the very first showing, generally at midnight, then expect to wait for a few hours.  Earlier this month, I saw Watchmen at midnight and I waited about 3 or so hours in line.  Some might be appalled at this, and indeed it does sound ridiculous, but hey, the movies are my kryptonite, and I’m willing to go to extreme lengths to watch them.  Plus, I didn’t mind the wait, because I came prepared.  Which brings me to my next point.

Going to the movie theatre is quite different from watching a movie in your home theatre.  Consider your style of dress.  At home, you can wear whatever you want, or nothing if that’s how you roll.  It’s all a matter of comfort.  In the movie theatre, some comfort may have to be sacrificed if it conflicts with other people’s comfort levels.  Theatres tend to be cooler in temperature; sometimes I bring a light jacket even if it’s in the middle of the summer.  Make sure you dress appropriately for the theatre, or you’ll be too cold/hot to enjoy whatever it is you’re watching.  And be mindful of the noise your clothing makes.  If you have to remove something/put something on during the movie, make sure the squeaking and ruffling about is kept to a minimum.

Also, don’t be afraid to bring some other forms of entertainment along while waiting for the theatre lights to dim.  A portable gaming system is my choice to waste time with, and I’ve had many rousing games of Mario Kart DS with my friends at the movie theatre.  Lately, it’s been more like Animal Crossing: Wild World or Ninjatown, but it doesn’t really matter what game.  As long as everyone’s got a system, and the game is multiplayer, a good time will probably be had by all.  Except for the one person that doesn’t have a system, and just has to watch everyone else have a good time.  In that case, you only have yourself to blame.

One other thing I’ve brought with me to the movie theatre: air freshener or body spray.  No, not for me; I never leave the house without showering.  But if you’ve checked out my Watchmen or The Dark Knight reviews, you may have noticed I have this thing about body odor.  Occasionally, a movie theatre may stink like someone’s unwashed ass, so it may be necessary to give your surrounding personal space a little spray of cologne, perfume, Lysol, whatever.  During my Watchmen viewing, my girlfriend and I noticed the stink of B.O. hanging in the air where we were sitting.  Then these two guys who were sitting in front of us moved over a few seats, and the stink diminished a little, but it wasn’t completely gone.  So, I took out my tiny travel-sized can of Axe and gave the area directly in front of me a quick spray, and all was well.  Just be careful where you spray, as you don’t want to offend anyone nearby that could be allergic, or would think you’re spraying because of them.  If it’s the latter, then they probably do stink and they can only get mad at themselves.

And be mindful of what you keep in your pockets.  You don’t want to drop your keys or cell phone or anything else, then have to feel around in the dark for them.  Sure, you can wait till the lights come up again to look, but once you see what’s on that movie theatre floor, you may not want to touch it.

Now on to what is possibly the most expensive aspect of the movie theatre experience: food.  I am part of the AMC Movie Watcher club, which means I earn points for every ticket I buy, and those points can go towards free things like tickets, popcorn, etc.  It’s a great program, and it’s free so I think people should check it out.  Anyway, one of the prizes that is offered is either a free ticket or a free large popcorn and large drink.  I almost always go for the popcorn and drink because the ticket usually won’t be good on new releases and the popcorn and drink, combined, probably cost more than the ticket.

If you don’t have the option of getting some free food, either be prepared to buy what’s at the concessions stand, or bring your own.  Personally, I love popcorn and always have to have some whenever I watch a movie, even at home, so that means I’ll probably be buying some popcorn at the theatre.  If you choose to go this route, remember to get enough napkins.  You don’t want to be caught with oily, buttery fingers and nothing to wipe them off on.  Yes, you can lick your fingers, but what are you, five?  Besides, movie theatres can be pretty unsanitary places, you don’t want to lick your fingers after they touched the seats and stuff.

Many, and probably all, movie theatres discourage bringing in outside food.  I tend to agree, simply because theatres make most of their money from the concessions stand and I generally don’t mind supporting things I like.  But, I do understand that times are tough, and corners need to be cut in order to make ends meet.  So, if you’re going to bring food in, do it properly.  Don’t bring in food that’s going to be hard to smuggle in.  Recently, my girlfriend and I brought in a nice meal of burgers and fries, complete with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, etc from another restaurant simply because we were jonesing for some real food and didn’t want to be late to the movie.

The food was put into relatively small containers that easily fit into large jacket pockets or a purse, or some other type of bag.  Some theatres will check bags and purses to make sure you aren’t bringing in a camera or something, so be careful.  You’ll have to pay attention as to whether or not your theatre does this.  If so, then you’ll have to find other ways of getting food inside.  I remember many years ago, when Attack of the Clones came out, my friend and I were conscientious enough to wear loose clothing with big pockets so we could bring in sandwiches, bottled drinks, candy, etc. for us and our friends while we waited for the movie to start.  But the underlying point is this: don’t be too obvious about it.  I know most theatre workers couldn’t care less if you brought in some outside food, but rules are still rules, and you have to assume they’ll be enforced.

Next time on The Movie Theatre Survival Guide: A Treatise on Courtesy.

(images found using Google Image Search)


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The Movie Theatre Survival Guide, Part 1 The Movie Theatre Survival Guide, Part 3

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