I wrote somewhere else about parents bringing their kids with them to movies that were a tad inappropriate (for the children) and I assumed it was because a) they couldn’t get a babysitter or b) they just couldn’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD or cable.
The presence of children at some movies threatened to throw a wrench in my “date night”, but even without children tagging along, I remember when going to the movies was an experience in itself.
Long before we had a multiplex theatre with eight screens, there was the solitary movie theatre in the heart of town with a single screen. Most times that meant you only had one chance on a weekend night (they weren’t open during the week),to see your movie of choice – unless you decided to attend the late show which usually began at eleven o’clock.
That wasn’t an option for me, so whenever my movie-mates and I planned to see a movie we always had a Plan B in case we didn’t get in. Because you see, in only a few cases would the cinema sell tickets in advance. If that didn’t happen it meant that the designated ticket buyer would join a line (and I use that word loosely), and wait for what should be his turn.
This was not a job for the faint-hearted. Jostling with what seemed like hundreds of people to get into a place with the capacity for half that amount, the chosen person attempted to reach the hole in the wall also known as the ticket window. The rest of us would look on with varying degrees of hope or despair depending on his progress.
This was sometimes impeded by some Johnny-come-lately who saw someone in line who he knew and would think nothing of asking that person to buy him a couple of tickets. Sometimes our ticket buyer would be one person away from getting served, but after the person in front of him secured the 30 tickets he’d been charged with collecting, the ticket booth would abruptly close because he walked with the last of them.
And so it ended up being a Plan B kind of night where we’d have to find somewhere else to go because we sure as heck weren’t going back home. Years later, when babies were added to the mix (and the cinema made several improvements) we still never cut our evening short – not after we had acquired babysitting, that is.
But on the nights when we were lucky enough to get tickets, we’d have another (but thankfully much shorter) tussle at the snack bar on the way in to see the film. The primo seats were located at the back of the building on an elevated level with the emergency exits located down the stairs on the right – or back the way we came.
Having gone often enough, we knew where everything was and could feel our way around because I remember that it was pretty dark in there. The only thing lighting our way was whatever illumination was coming from the screen.
The economy section was located below the area we sat in. It had a different entrance and at the end of the movie those doors would be thrown wide open to allow those patrons to get out. In all my years of going to the movies there, I never knew what that section of the cinema looked like until years later when a local designer had a fashion show at the same location – and then I understood why they called it “the pit”.
These days when I go to the movies I choose my seat carefully. I scan the people already seated to determine whether they’re likely to be talkers. You know – the ones who carry on a running dialogue either with the person seated next to them or the person in the film who they think can hear them.
Back in the day, you found a seat and prepared to sit through what seemed like the “director’s cut” because everybody around you had an opinion. It made for an interesting evening and if you were unsure about how to feel in a particular scene, the other patrons would let you know what emotion was required.
Sometimes it wasn’t necessarily what you would pick – laughter during a particularly touching scene, howls during a violent one – but, whatever. I’m not knocking the shared experience mind you, but when I watch a movie I much prefer to listen to the voices in my own head.