Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

I may have broken a lifelong habit. That’s a shame

So last weekend I watched No Time to Die via a Netflix DVD, and I enjoyed it. I’m not a huge fan of Craig’s run but with some minor quibbles, I thought this was an excellent job. If not for the pandemic, I could have seen it in the nearby multiplex but … would I have done so?

I’ve been stepping away from watching on the big screen for a while. Don’t get me wrong, it’s way more fun than watching at home, despite home’s creature comforts and cheaper snacks. I was a regular once a week filmgoer, occasionally more than that, but then I moved up to Durham to get married. TYG isn’t as much of a movie buff as I am and while we did go occasionally pre-pandemic, a lot of times I’d be going alone. Sometimes it’s easier to hang around the house with her and our dogs.

Then came the pandemic. As a result I have seen one movie in a theater in the last two years, Eternals, and that was because it fit into my Alien Vistors book — or as McFarland has decided to title it, The Aliens Are Here. I picked a matinee show because I didn’t want to crawl into bed late at night. I enjoyed the movie (I probably enjoyed 007 more) but I didn’t enjoy the price tag, $16. For a matinee (though the cost is, of course, a legit business expense).

I thought maybe that was because it was a three hour movie but I checked prices on some other movies recently (not that I’m planning to catch one any time soon) and they all seem to be at that price point. I presume it’s because the local AMC, the most convenient movie house, has upgraded its facilities — recliners, space, better food — so now they assume they can charge a higher price.

For me, though, the price feels like a lot. It’s not that I can’t afford it — though obviously I can afford fewer than if it were $10 — but for me, above $10 is the cut-off at which things stop being “disposable income, no big to buy them” and become “how much do I really want this?” Given the alternative — stay home, watch something different on Netflix or Hulu or whatever, spend the $15 on a TPB or a book — and the certainty I’ll be able to see anything new in a couple of months, the answer to question b is often “not that much.”

I don’t doubt I’ll be back at the multiplex at some point, when the pandemic’s down to reasonable levels. The local art-house theater is a lot cheaper and the movies are good. Or there will be some movie so fricking awesome I’ll just have to shell out for the tickets. I’m an 007 fan; No Time to Die might have gotten me into a chair (TYG would probably have come too). But even though I miss doing it, it’ll never be a regular thing again.



  1. tomfitz1

    In a way, I know what you mean – the last movie I saw pre-pandemic was BIRDS OF PREY with Harley Quinn. Then everything shut down.

    I was toying with the idea of going to see a movie, but then, OMICRON started up and things are almost shutting down.

    At this rate, it might be years before I get back into a movie theater. 🙁

  2. Edo Bosnar

    For me, it was the MCU that got me going back to theaters to watch movies, after a hiatus of well over a decade (when Fellowship of the Rings was released). I was starting to get annoyed at having to avoid reading spoiler-filled posts on comics blogs or forums, and just generally impatient about waiting for them to show up in some format that could be watched at home. So from Age of Ultron onward, I started catching all of the MCU and other superhero flicks in the theater.
    However, the pandemic kind of killed my desire to go to theaters again – and now I have a backlog of MCU movies to catch…

  3. I think we’ve been to the theater once in the past year, to see Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which I greatly enjoyed. I think we’ll go see Spider-Man: No Way Home soonish, since it won’t be coming to D+ for a couple of years due to Sony’s contract with Starz. The only other thing in theaters right now that I’m willing to risk the plague and pay exorbitant price for is West Side Story.

    Instead, we just upgraded our TV to a decent size. A much better value.

        1. Le Messor

          I’ve heard only good things about it, and I loved it.

          One of the guys I saw it with thought the ending was too demonic, but even then seemed to mostly like it. At least, his overall review was ‘I don’t know’. (I told him, they’re not exactly siding *with* the creatures here.) That’s the worst I’ve heard, and I wouldn’t expect it to impact your enjoyment.

  4. Le Messor

    Last night, in my head, I was reviewing the last week of 2021 for me. It turned out I’d been to the theatre 3 times to see movies – one of which (Spider-Man) I’d already seen.

    I also saw The Eternals twice in a theatre. Shang-Chi I only saw once in a theatre, then I owned the blu-ray 10 days later (probably a record for me).

    Basically, I like going to the theatre, and I have a couple of different groups of friends who want to go with me – so I’m stuck in the habit. And I don’t mind at all. 🙂

    Also, I’ll go to see a movie which I already own on home media, when it has a rerun in theatres. (Depending on the movie, of course, and friends’ interest.)

        1. When I wrote about the beginning of our relationship back on my personal LiveJournal (before it got bought out by some Russian company), I referred to her by her initials. She said if I was to talk about her online, she’d prefer TYG for The Young Goddess. And so it has been (she’s 15 years my junior, so it fits).

    1. Ecron Muss

      Le Messor, how did seeing Eternals the second time impact your enjoyment?

      First time through, I spent up until the last 30 minutes wondering where it was all going.

      Second time through, knowing how it went, I just enjoyed the relationships of the characters. The common cause, the disruptions, disagreements, differing ethics and ideologies and that after all that they were still a family. I enjoyed that.

      1. Le Messor

        I’ve long held a theory that the second time seeing a movie goes the quickest – you don’t have the tension of not knowing what’s going to happen dragging it out, but you haven’t seen it so many times it’s dull.

        The theory held with this one.

  5. Bright-Raven

    Yeah… I don’t bother with the movie theater unless my local comics shop has bought tickets and I’m a guest artist the shop / theatre has to promote the film so I’m making a print to sell at the premiere so I’m effectively paid to go these days. (Saw Shang-Chi and Spidey:No Way Home in this manner; couldn’t even tell you what the last movie pre-pandemic was off the top of my head.)

      1. Bright-Raven

        There really isn’t anything to be impressed about. And it isn’t like this happens all the time. Maybe 2-4 times a year, at most.

        Now, if you want to be “impressed”, you should have seen how I got tickets when I lived in Nevada. The theatres were in the casinos. Because of my mother’s ‘high roller’ status (she wasn’t any high roller by any means, but she played enough Bingo and slots, I guess) they would just give me free tickets to any movie, any time. So if the movie played at the casino theatres between 1995-2006 and I wanted to see it, I pretty much could for free. I think between that period of time, the only movies I remember paying to see in a movie theatre were:

        INDEPENDENCE DAY (Which I had to pay because I was in San Diego for the SDCC at the time and I can’t remember who all I went with but it was partially CBRians)
        THE CRAFT (It was only playing at the crappy theatre on the Arizona side)
        CONSTANTINE (Maybe? I can’t remember, but I think that was only at the mall theatre.)
        TITAN A.E. (Technically I paid for the ticket, but I believe I got reimbursed later?)

        Everything else I saw in a theatre was free during that period.

  6. JHL

    I’ve seen a few movies in theaters during the pandemic. Mostly the MCU ones. But only at the local IMAX theater. They have only been been selling what looks to be about a quarter of their seats and hardly anybody went there even before the pandemic. Since it is attached to a museum most people don’t know it exists and I think a lot of the people who do know it’s it’s there realize it runs first run movies along with the usual documentaries. Funny thing is it’s a great deal since tickets there cost the same as any other local theater without the up charge you find at a lot of IMAX showing.

  7. $16?!? Whoo-ee. My town’s local theater is ~$8 for a matinee, and that seemed high to me. Luckily they have a $5 Tuesday. Of course, they don’t always line the picture up with the screen, so…

    In 2021 I went to the theater for:
    Black Widow
    No Time to Die
    Last Night in Soho
    The French Dispatch
    Ghostbusters: Afterlife

    …so I guess a pretty busy year for me.

    Due to the Omicron flare-up and crowded showings I skipped Spider-Man– so far.

    1. JHL

      Movie theater ticket prices vary wildly within the US and around world. Cities tend to run higher than smaller communities. Most places I’ve lived in the past decade ran from 12-15 for non matinee adult tickets. I’ve seen as high as 18 in some Metro areas. As near as I can tell (like in a lot of industries today) competition, at least in regards to pricing, does not really exist. Prices vary from region to region but everybody within a region is seems to be charging about the same for a ticket. Really, for at least the last decade, the only movie theaters I’ve seen try to undercut others on ticket prices are ones well past their prime with generally worn out carpets and seats and well out of date projection and sound tech. Though a full price ticket isn’t a guarantee of better, I stopped being willing to see a show at any Regal Theater a couple years ago after multiple experiences of paying full price and ending up with bad sound, a bad picture, or a sadly shabby theater. Fortunately Austin is very much a movie town so there are plenty of other options for when I do want to see a movie in a theater.

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