Moving on from movie theaters

The idea of showing clips of soon-to-be released movies to an audience in a movie theater is a no-brainer. It’s a captive audience that likes movies enough to brave roving gangs of teenage cell-phone addicts and scary, multi-story parking garages. It’s an audience that is willing to brave freeway traffic and inconvenient timing to come sit in a tsheater that smells of carpet cleaner, fake butter and Febreze, all to see clips of coming attractions that aren’t attractive.

First of all, nachos? In a dark movie theater? Who thought that would be a good idea – the guy with the theater’s carpet-cleaning contract? And if you’re sitting down not moving a muscle for two hours, should you really be eating nachos? Or buttered popcorn? Or malted milk balls? I don’t want to be a killjoy, but unless you jogged to the theater from your house, you should probably be mindful of your snacking. I watch movies at home, and never have a craving for Dots and Milky Ways; why do we think the movie-watching experience needs fattening food? Isn’t watching a hard-working actor make $20 million enough fun for a couple of hours?

Since there are very few leave-the-house-worthy films, you’d think the theaters would try extra hard to make sure their previews will excite you enough to leave the house again, at a future date. Especially now that it’s so easy to watch movies at home with easy access to a clean bathroom and overstocked kitchen and no loud talkers, movie theaters are in a struggle for their very existence.

It’s been months since Sue and I went to a film, but this week Hollywood got us off our duffs. The end of the year is when they release all the Oscar-worthy stuff. So we manned up, left the house and went to a talkie. We were the only two people in the tiny theater. Of the other 12 movies we could have chosen, we picked the one that nobody wants to see. Are we that out of touch?

The movie started a few minutes late because the projectionist was also the guy selling nachos. There must have been a last-minute rush. The next thing we saw were hundreds of flying ninjas taking on one superior ninja. Something told me, even without seeing the whole movie, that horde of ninjas didn’t have a chance. Sure enough, the superior ninja sliced through them 10 at a time, and jumped in slow motion so we could see their swords just miss him by that much. Three more fell before he hit the ground. It was like watching a ballet of violence.

I’m sure someone, somewhere, is rewriting “Swan Lake” to include flying samurai. It’s like that best-selling Jane Austen rewrite “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” it has to happen, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be buying it. Five more previews followed that were worse than the “Ninjas.” Car chases and gunfights. Many of them were remakes of movies that should never, ever be remade. I don’t care who’s in it, I don’t want to see “Casablanca II.”

Now I’m thinking of buying a bigger TV set.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2010, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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