I used to love going to the movies. There have been phases when I've gone every week, or done whole day marathons of back to back shows. I even used to love going to see obscure foreign films. Just a couple of blocks away from my house, is a great little artsy cinema, that usually shows one blockbuster and a nice muddle of indie films.
Over the weekend I went to see "The Avengers" (which I give two thumbs up by the way - although the plot is wafer thin, the characters and humor are worth it - you've got to hand it to Joss Whedon, with so any characters it could have been a mess, but he gave them all, well, character).
But then I remembered why I don't go any more. The people directly behind you crunching popcorn, ripping open and rustling cellophane, shaking snacks in boxes, noisily slurping the dregs of their drinks, and then belching with satisfaction. Invariably during the quiet, tense moments; the importance of a whispered plot line lost because my neighbor is chiding down on of bucket of popcorn larger than my entire torso.
What's worse are the patrons who insist on providing their own asinine commentary through the movie (and there was one such loudmouth during the Avengers showing I went to). Dude, I hardly ever listen to the directors’ commentaries on DVDs, because they are invariably dull and boring, I don't want to hear your brain dead opinions. If I wanted to hear moronic opinions I'd true into "Fox and Friends" (I'm pretty confident that few of my readers watch "Fox and Friends" because, well, (a) you obviously have taste as you are reading my blog and (b) you can read...).
The worst moment I had in a movie theater in the past few years was during a climactic scene - to be honest it was during the penultimate scene in Pride and Prejudice when Mr Darcy is striding purposefully towards Elizabeth Bennett over the misty moor, he grabs her in his arms, their eyes bore into each other, they lean forwards about to kiss when .... A woman two rows behind me opens her phone and starts telling her other half where to pick her up outside. The final climatic moment ruined.
Maybe I'm getting mire intolerant in my old age, but I don't remember movie-goers being so self-centered, oblivious and ignorant. Perhaps it's because so many homes have huge TVs, and modern theaters have smaller screens, and movie goers feel more like they are in their living rooms. Maybe people in general are less able to make the distinction between behavior in private and in public.
Now I like eating popcorn as much as anyone, when watching a TV show or movie (I have a rather nice popcorn maker in fact) but that's in the privacy of my home. Not somewhere where I've paid nearly $20 watch a film.
Hollywood knows that movie audiences are in decline, and they know that unruly movie goers are an issue. But the theaters also want profits - so more expensive tickets, less staff being paid to monitor bad behavior in theaters, and more food being sold. So in my mind, a movie trip is costing more and more for a worse experience.
On some train services, customer annoyance at mobile phone users, or other chatter, when travelers wanted to work, read or nap on trains, led to the installation of "quiet cars". Maybe we can have "quiet screens" where loud food and talking is banned, and you can be thrown out if you break the rules. I'd certainly pay a little extra be able watch to Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett's first kiss when the only sound is that of my soppy sniffling, rather than slack jawed munching or an idiot on a phone.