When I was visiting my boyfriend in his hometown last year, he suggested going to the movies. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “OK, that sounds like fun! Let me see what’s playing this week. If you buy the tickets, I’ll make sure I have enough money for the popcorn and the nachos. Do you want any candy?”
Boyfriend: “I was thinking we just drive down to the theater and see what’s playing soon. We don’t really need to buy snacks or candy.”
Me: “You do that?”
Boyfriend: “Yeah, why not?”
My brain promptly went blank. I couldn’t process the idea that going to the movies could somehow not be some big occasion. How could it be something you just did, like it was a video game that you just picked up and played?
Going to the movies is a ritual for my family. There are specific preparations, steps that must be taken in exactly the right order if our experience is to be fun and comfortable.
I’m not sure when we started doing this, but I think it had something to do with the Harry Potter movies. Seeing the premieres became a yearly holiday, and the planning was crucial if we wanted to get there in time to get seats.
My family sticks to our rituals so much we’d make the Vatican proud. After we get our tickets, we go to the food counter and get some popcorn, along with drinks and nachos. We don’t really eat it all, but we generally have to forgo a meal to see a movie, so we never know when we’ll get hungry. Even if we aren’t hungry going into the theater, we still pick up the snacks just in case. Then we find seats on the aisle on the side of the theater nearest the door; if there’s a fire, we know what our priorities are.
If I had to guess, I’d say the reason my family and I have started treating going to the movies as a whole-day excursion is because the movies that are worth going to see in theaters are getting longer and bigger.
When we saw “The Avengers” last year, it was a 2½-hour investment, and that’s not counting the fact that we had to be in the theater at least 30 minutes before the start of the previews to secure a seat, or the time it took for us to get our food and sit through the previews. I don’t mean to say that it wasn’t worth it, but it took up the whole afternoon.
By contrast, when we went to see the 3D rerelease of “The Lion King,” we were in the theater for a total of just under two hours, and that was only because the theater put about 17 previews ahead of the movie.
There is one benefit to the rituals that not even my laid-back boyfriend can deny: It gives me more time to hype myself up for whatever movie I’m going to see. The final ritual comes after the movie is over: Taking the long way home so that we have ample time to discuss the movie and review it in detail.
So, if you want to find out what I thought of the movies that my family and I invested so much time in, check out my new online blog, The Play Button, coming soon to kdhnews.com. In addition to movies, I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on TV and video games.