EDITORIAL: Two Brave First-Timers
I don't know how many people this works on but, to me, there's something a little magical and special about going to a movie theater to watch a movie. The smell of popcorn and butter permeates your nose almost as soon as you walk in the door. The lighted lobby and courteous ushers welcome you like you're a VIP, while the larger-than-life cardboard cut-outs and posters charge you with excitement of movies to come. The track-lit aisles guide you to a stadium-staggered hill of big plush seats that wrap you up and point you to the biggest screen you've ever seen. The lights go down and the previews start a journey that takes you away from whatever stress or distractions were on your mind before you sat in that seat. Next to you are the people you get to laugh, cry, cheer, and share that experience with, whether that person is a stranger, a date, a friend, a love, or family. To me, that experience can't be matched anywhere else than at a movie theater.
While not all theater experiences are created equal and sometimes the experience and service isn't worth writing home about, going to a movie theater is still, on some level, a two-hour vacation. For those of you who have been going since you were a child, there are so many sensations of the senses, both positive and negative, that are an ingrained part of the experience of watching a movie in a theater and not at home, from the things I mentioned earlier to the sticky floors and the heads in your way sometimes.
With higher admission prices and the advent of home theater systems with surround sound speakers and HDTVs, people are going out to the movie theaters less these days than in previous generations. Our longer work schedules nowadays give even a single person less free time to go out, let along a working family with children. Blockbuster and the mom-and-pop video stores have evolved into RedBox pickups and streaming Netflix that bring movies home to their customers for the fraction of the price and hassle of taking the family to a movie theater. At the same time, one could wait four to six months and buy the Blu-ray or DVD disc of the movie for the price of two people's theater admission (especially with the fad and surcharge of 3D showings going around lately) and watch it repeatedly at their leisure. In these tough economic times, I can't blame the people that are going out a little less at all. Even a movie nut like me almost exclusively sees his movies at the $5.00 weekend morning matinees instead of dropping $9.00+ at night on a weekend.
Nevertheless, I am here to support taking the time to go a see a movie in the theater, rather than stay at home. Sure, I know that home has its comforts of free food and a looser dress code (wink, wink), but I am here to defend what is the magical experience of seeing a movie on the big screen.
This past weekend, I watched Toy Story 3 at the Showplace 16 in Schererville, IN with my wonderful girlfriend, who already is seeing more movies while dating me than she ever has in her life. We were joined there by her best friend, husband, and two young children ages 5 and 2, both boys. While walking in, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was both boys' first ever trip to a movie theater! I probably see 70 movies a year and here I am with two first timers and couldn't feel any more excited for them.
The wonderment in their eyes and facial expressions was absolutely priceless. From walking in that tall glass lobby to hopping up in their big seats, I don't know if they were truly ready for the show to come. As soon as the previews ended, when the final lights went down and the real surround sound hit with that familiar Disney castle opening, I watched that moment where movies stopped being just fun on TV and something much bigger and more exciting for those two boys. Before long into the show, both are out of their seats and standing forward just to feel a little closer to the action on the screen. When the credits hit and the lights came back, I saw two boys that I'd like to think were forever changed in a good way. Sure, the chances to see a movie may be far and few between for a while and that videos at home will still do the job, but something special happened and I hope they never forget their first trip to the movie theater.
To Nathan and Patrick Finnegan: I wish you many more trips to the big loud screen! --UNCLE DON