- I went to see Iron Man 2 last night, and it was OK. I wanted it to be much better, but at the same time, I have to wonder how much of its blandness was the result of the movie itself, or the fact that nowadays the moviegoing experience is so mediocre that it actually hurts a film.
- Or to put it another way: how does the moviegoing experience affect audience's appreciation of movies?
- I wish Iron Man 2 had been better, because perhaps it would have distracted me from the fact that the actual experience of seeing it was like dunking my head in a toilet after a Mets game. How much do filmmakers and studios care about the actual screening of their product? The more artistically-inclined might be fully aware—and rightfully insulted, even—that their Starry Night is being displayed on the filmmaking equivalent of a urinal cake. They might also be fully conscious of how this affects the perception of their sweat and tears. But are studios concerned at all that their product is being so mistreated? Hey, at least they're raking it in, so why bother, right?
- Twenty minutes into Iron Man 2, I had to leave my seat, walk down a fight of stairs to find an employee (in this case a manager, since most employees honestly could not care less; it's hard to be motivated when you're being paid peanuts) and ask her to turn the lights off in the theater. That's right: the lights were on during the movie, and nobody was around to notice.
- Then they turned on the emergency lights instead of turning them all down.
- As soon as they figured out the lights issue, I discovered the theater floor lights were aimed upwards. This meant that the seats from the front half of the room were casting a shadow on the screen.
That's right: shadows taking up half the screen.
During the brightly-lit scenes these shadows were not noticeable. I would even forget they were there. But if a scene were dark (for example, the entire third act and climax of the film), the shadows were clearly visible, darkening Tony Stark's face.
- Not only is this distracting, it's also disrespectful to the cinematographer.
- Later, two employees came in during the movie at different times, waving their flashlights around until they reached a corner in front of the room (for everyone to see, of course), and promptly filled in some sort of timesheet. Then one of them actually sat down to watch the movie, not bothering to turn off his walkie-talkie. Of course it blasted loudly, because that's what Murphy's law is all about.
- People who may have seen Iron Man 2 already might be aware there is an extra scene after the credits. I can understand people leave before the scene takes place. I can understand the cleaning crew shuffling in to do their job. But what I don't understand is why they would come in, turn on the emergency lights (the brightest lights in the house) the very moment the credits began and begin to complain loudly and repeatedly that some of us were still seated. I had to actually shush them and tell them the movie wasn't over. They laughed even more.
- Things like these tainted (more like flat-out annihilated) my moviegoing experience, so the result is I, as a viewer, didn't enjoy the movie because I couldn't enjoy it--and it wasn't even the movie's fault!
I complained to the managers, but I was very polite about it. I pointed out that I cannot blame them for people being idiots (those who use their cellphone or speak loudly during a movie; I do think theaters have a responsibility to try and curb this behaviour, however). Yet I was dismayed and deeply saddened that they were being so careless about the things they could control.
One of the managers could not have cared less and pretty much left even before I was done talking. But the other one was very apologetic and understanding and gave me passes to make up for it.
The problem is, do I even want to use these free passes? I'm not sure I ever want to go to that theater again— and unfortunately, this applies to almost any other movie theater out there. It's a rather depressing state of affairs.
It seems like exhibitors are just relying on movies to bring in the audience, instead of providing a welcoming environment in which a filmmaker can be certain their product is being displayed properly and audiences can fully appreciate the experience. I mean, that's what their role is, right?
It's only logical people stay home and watch things on a large television: it's not just cheaper, but it's more comfortable. And the only two remaining reasons one would want to go the theater to begin with—the communal experience and the immediacy of a new release— are damaged first by a community that is not communal in the least, and second, by piracy.
So that's three strikes against going to the movies: 1) theaters are not comfortable, 2) audiences are disrespectful cave trolls, and 3) movies are available online or at a street corner for free or next-to-nothing. I sincerely believe at least the first two of these issues can be remedied if exhibitors make an effort to, you know, do their job.
At the end of the day, a product (or art, if you will) cannot be removed from the experience of its consumption. I'm not even asking for VIP theaters here (which are ridiculously expensive in the US). A valid equivalent: the most amazing recipe—delicious, healthy, filling—is far from palatable if we serve it on a dirty, soggy paper tissue paper.
Especially at $12.50 a pop.