Ahh yes. The movies. Seems like a lifetime ago that we used to go and watch the latest new movie at the local cinema hall. Times have changed, and single screen halls have been replaced by multiplexes in malls. Everything is now polished, with a variety of seating, snacks and screen options available. In a place like Bangalore, there is a multiplex for almost every locality, and you never need to travel more than 5-7 kilometers to find one. Recently, after a gap of over six months, cinema halls have been allowed to open up in the city.
I love watching movies at home, and between netflix, prime video and hotstar and youtube, you can find a large variety of movies to satiate your thirst for entertainment. Still, nothing quite matches the movie theatre experience, especially when you watch a blockbuster, with the crowd cheering for the heroes at epic moments.
Still, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are six things in particular which spoil the movie theatre experience for me:
1. People Using Phones
Imagine you are in the middle of an important or emotional scene, and are fully engrossed in the story. Suddenly a phone rings, and like moths to a flame, everyone in the audience turns their attention to the person who has just interrupted their entertainment.
Thing is, more often than not, the person would just answer the call, and go on talking for a good five plus minutes. It is very jarring. You cannot focus on the dialogue on the screen, and you wish that the fellow would quickly end his conversation. I do not understand what is so important that people have to attend calls in the middle of a movie. If it is an emergency, they can easily go out and take the call, or call back. I have done that every time I receive a call when watching a movie.
Another equally annoying habit is of people who text or use their phones for browsing the internet. The bright light from their phone screen is very distracting, especially if you are sitting behind them. Some of them surf for a good half and hour or so. I guess they are so bored with the movie that they feel the need to surf the net or chat with their friends online.
2. People explaining the story/plot to their neighbours
I have seen this happen a lot when a couple goes to see a movie, particularly a superhero movie. The man is very keen and knows the characters history, while his significant other could not be bothered, and has been dragged along to watch the movie. He keeps telling her, every few minutes, ‘Hey, the green guy is Hulk’, or ‘Thanos is the villain’ and goes on a long exposition about the characters backstory, the other movies the character has been in, and what is happening on screen at that moment.
I mean, come on, let her figure it out for herself. Or you should have explained it before you entered the movie theatre. Because once you are inside and the lights are switched off, it is time to keep quiet and simply soak in the experience.
3. People talking throughout the movie
Wait, how is this different from the earlier two points? Well, in this case, the people, normally a gaggle of ladies, use the movie theatre as a place to catch on on their gossip. They have absolutely no interest in what’s playing on screen, and talk and talk and talk and talk. Occasionally, there will be some laughter thrown in, to further add to the annoyance factor.
On one occasion, I saw a couple in the row behind almost get into a fight during the intermission with three ladies who were chit-chatting since the opening credits. I really do not understand, if they wanted to just chat, couldn’t they find a restaurant or coffee shop or park or anywhere else.
4. Kids… Lots of Kids
I like animated movies. I like superhero movies. Well, guess who else likes them? Children. That’s who. Sometimes you will get a bunch of children who all come together to enjoy their favourite movie. And that’s ok. But as you know, children really do not know how to keep quiet or sit in one place for longer than 5 minutes.
Without fail, everytime there are a bunch of kids, they will be chatting, screeching, or falling over each other, unless an adult or five is at hand to keep them quiet. Children really have no filter. They will say whatever they want when a movie is playing, oftentimes at volumes loud enough for the whole theatre to hear them.
Still, I am a bit more forgiving, since they are children and all that. That does not mean I do not feel a pang of dread whenever I see that my seat is just a row or two away from a bunch of kids.
5. Ticket and Food Prices
Remember when movie tickets were Rs. 50/-? Well, me neither. I feel like I have become like my parents, an old person who would say, ‘In my day, you could get a kilo of rice for 15 paise’. In the days of single screen theatres, ticket prices were quite affordable, even if you were a broke college student. These days, however, ticket prices are prohibitively expensive, especially during the weekends. Nowadays, you can expect to pay Rs. 300 and above for a weekend ticket, and Rs. 500 and above if the movie happens to be a popular bollywood release.
And don’t even get me started on food prices. A normal popcorn would cost Rs. 250-270. A flavoured popcorn would be over Rs. 300. A regular glass of Pepsi would be Rs. 200, and so on. Basically, if you are looking to eat at the movies, be prepared to double your overall bill for the experience. And forget about carrying in outside food. That’s why I always eat before I go to the movies.
6. Deafening Sound Systems
This is a bit more of a personal gripe. I am someone who is a bit more sensitive to loud noises than most people. And I find that most movie theatres simply dial up the volume to excessively loud levels. That’s not an issue if you are watching a romantic comedy, but say you are watching an action movie, the sounds of explosions and even the musical score would be deafening. Maybe that's why the people who attend to their phone calls during a movie are always shouting. With such loud noises, they would barely be able to hear the caller.
The problems with movie theatres are not the infrastructure, the seating or the amenities. A lot of problems are simply because people do not follow proper etiquette, and are inconsiderate of their neighbours. Still, I still miss going to the movies. It’s a great way to lose yourself for an hour or two. If the movie is good, nice. If the movie is bad, well, at least you can laugh at it. Either ways, you had a fun time.