With the recent news that Warner Brothers is sending all releases to streaming on the same day as theaters, many fear this is the death of movie theaters as we know it. One can argue theaters have been dying a slow death for many years, but considering theaters have survived television, VHS/ DVD, and the arrival of streaming, it really got me thinking: what if this turns out to be the final hurdle? Furthermore, got me remembering the movies I saw as a kid, and the movies I went to see with my friends in middle/ high school. I then realized what a build up these outings were. Everything from seeing the trailer on tv, and waiting for it to be on again (the days before YouTube!), to planning which showing and then going.
It also got me reflecting: I’m part of a generation that got to grow up with going to theaters, and I may be part of the last generation. While I don’t want movie theaters to die, I can say the experience is not what it used to be. I really didn’t start to notice this until maybe high school, as when I was little the only things you had to worry about were talkers, and people kicking your seat. The real turning point came for me in 9th grade (Spring 2011) when a friend and I went to see Soul Surfer; for half the film, she was texting another friend. It wasn’t pleasant sitting next to a glowing phone light
As I write this now, Downton Abbey (2019) is the last NEW film I saw in theaters. I saw it as a pre-release on the same day as the UK release, which was about a week earlier than the American release. Due to the fact the theater was full of hardcore Downton fans, it was the best viewing experience I’ve had in years. We all were “ooohhh”-ing when Mosley served in the dining room, we all laughed at Violet’s quick and witty comebacks, and most of all it was an experience viewing with like minded people. No one was on their phone, talking or being rude, we were all watching.
Overall, the final film I saw in a movie theater was a screening of The Thin Man at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove IL. And it, like Downton, was an event viewing. I had the privilege of attending the film with family friends of mine- my family and their family went together and it was just a happy event. We all are classic movie fans, and it was just special to view the film with fellow fans.
If The Thin Man turns out to be the final movie I ever see in a theater, then I can say I’m pretty damn proud of that. It doesn’t get much better than Bill Powell and Myrna Loy sleuthing and flirting onscreen with each other.
In all honesty, I’m not saying I will never go back to a theater ever again, but I can say I believe I wont be going as frequently as I did as a kid/ teen. I personally have a list of classic films I hope one day I get to view on the big screen and I hope to get the opportunity to view The Shootist, Sunset Boulevard, The Awful Truth and so many more.
Until that happens, for the time being, I decided to reflect on my cinematic experience so far. I present to you some highlights of my life at the theater:
• I saw Monsters Inc 5 times in the theaters as a kid, and Finding Nemo 3 times.
• Lilo and Stitch was the first Disney animated movie I saw in theaters.
• The first movie I saw without my parents or any adult, was 17 Again (2009), I went opening weekend on the ultra screen with a friend. I was 12.
• June 2007, I was 10 almost 11, my Mom, sister, and I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (my first Pirates movie on the big screen). I thought I was super cool because the movie was PG-13, and I was 10.
• I saw 3 John Wayne movies (The Searchers, The Quiet Man, True Grit) and 3 Cary Grant movies (The Philadelphia Story, An Affair to Remember, Charade).
• I saw 1 Hitchcock film: Rear Window.
• In late summer 2004, I was just starting 3rd grade and on a school night (major event on a school night!), my sister and I with a group of friends (and our moms) went to see Princess Diaries 2.
• A film I regret seeing on the big screen was a kid’s movie, Over the Hedge, I found it incredibly pointless and stupid, but was forced to see it, as a Girl Scout “outing”. The troop went out for pizza afterwards, and I pretended I enjoyed the movie so I wouldn’t be called snobbish or boring.
• The only film I saw opening DAY: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). It was the first as well as the last film I will ever see on opening day.
• I remember The King’s Speech being in theaters in 9th grade, and having a major interest in wanting to see it. Due to the R rating, I couldn’t go see it with friends, and my Mom wasn’t up for going, so I missed out.
• I went to see Lincoln when I was in 11th grade for extra credit in APUSH. Easiest extra credit ever. All we had was to show the ticket stub, we didn’t even need a write up!
With all my heart I hope I will be able to make new memories at the movie theater. Check out my Instagram post below for some pics!