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Let's Talk About...Going Back to the Movies

Ok. Some of us are starting to go back to the movie theaters after the big Covid drought. I have seen "Maverick" so far, which doesn't make me an expert but was an exciting way to get my movie-feet wet again. I think we are all a bit rusty, so perhaps a movie-manners refresher might be in order.

Let me tell you a story so you know what I am talking about.

It was date night, pre-Covid. My husband and I had planned for a week to go see the new "Captain America" movie. It was a very popular movie at the time, so we arrived at the theater 30 minutes before the show. There were no reserved seats, so we had to stake out our claim early. We bought our popcorn, peanut M&Ms, Junior Mints and Twizzlers, entered the theater and found to our joy and good planning that the theater was empty.

We staked out the middle seats in the middle of the theater so we could have the best movie experience possible. So, we sat there and munched on our popcorn, played with our phones, watched Maria Menounos talk about movie trivia on the screen and waited.

Slowly, the theater began to fill. Families, birthday parties, dates, solo people. Everyone came. We were so proud we scored our awesome seats. Pretty soon, there were only a smattering of seats left. But there we were in the prized middle seats waiting patiently for the show to begin. The lights dimmed; the previews began. Everyone was getting excited in anticipation of a great show.

Then, out of nowhere, a group of six people showed up and apparently noticed a couple empty seats in our area. They pushed their way down the aisle, stepped on as many feet as possible and the guy in the front of this troop said to us, "Can you guys move down? If the people next to you also move down, my friends and I can all sit together."

What? I look. He is talking about our whole row shifting down about six seats. I thought to myself, "Wait! We got here early to get these exact seats. Where have you been, Mister?" But what did I actually say? -- "Uh, Sure."


There we were, way off-center, and I looked over, and there, in my former seat, was a girl about 18 years old with a lollipop in her mouth chatting with her companions. Grrr.

Resigned, I resumed eating my peanut M&Ms. Lollipop-girl-in-my seat turned to me (about six seats over) and said, "Shhh. You are eating so loud!" I sunk in my seat. Chagrined and embarrassed, I start sucking on my M&Ms to keep the noise level down. (As a general rule, I don't think peanut M&Ms are meant to be sucked on. They are meant to be carefully bit in half so you can enjoy the peanut by itself if you like, or the whole peanut and chocolate experience together).

Let's review some take-aways from my story.

First of all, respect people's seating choices as best you can. I realize reserved seats are now everywhere, but the principles here still apply.

Next, if you are going to show up late, it's not everyone else's problem.

But my biggest take-away is that if the theater sells peanut M&Ms and popcorn, it goes without saying that you are allowed to eat your peanut M&Ms and popcorn during the movie without repercussions.

And do we need to remind people that there is no talking during the movie? To be clear, this includes during the previews. Previews are an essential part of the movie experience for some. Same with phones. Even though there are reminders everywhere to turn off your phone, I still hear whole conversations and am blinded by bright screens throughout the movie.

I must admit I am more lenient on this talking and phone rule when it comes to Maria Menounos and the "Noovie Trivia" pre-game show because, well, she is kind of annoying.

Oh, and finally, no kicking the back of seats. Seriously. The same rule applies to airplanes. Kids love to kick the back of the seat in front of them. You cannot have the full movie experience with a foot pounding your back. Not only is it somewhat painful but also a big distraction from the world-saving fight scene on the screen. So, you think, "Should I turn around and say something? Or just flash a dirty look? Or do I just grin and bear it?" Let's just not let this happen in the first place, um, parents.

Ok. I think we are ready to get back to the joy of a real movie theater. No need to view first run movies on the small screen anymore. That big Dolby, THX sound is just waiting to blast your ears again. Oh, and I promise I will try to keep my apparently even louder chomping to a minimum.


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