See You at the Movies?

Happy belated Father’s Day to all of you dads out there. My family and I went to see Finding Dory the other day as a combination Happy Birthday/Father’s Day celebration for my younger brother. A good time was had by all.


While we waited for the movie to start, my sister-in-law mentioned that it was the first movie she’d seen at the theater in over a year. Interestingly, Andrew Stanton, the director of Finding Dory (and Finding Nemo), had a short clip before the movie began in which he thanked the audience for coming out to watch the movie; thus acknowledging that the movie-going experience is increasingly rare for many.


When I was a teen and a younger adult, I hit the movies just about every weekend. I didn’t miss a major movie. But for five of the last six years, I can use one hand to count the number of movies I’ve seen at the theater. Last year, I saw more movies at the theater than I’d seen in years. I saw

 NEMye3g3VuXNQM_1_1   star-wars-the-force-awakens-poster

Jurassic-World-2015-movie-poster   MPW-102782

avengers_age_of_ultron_NEW_POSTER    Ant-Man-Movie-Poster

See? Not a ton of movies. For others, popping a DVD or blu-ray disk into a player was the extent of my movie-going experience. (Wish I’d seen The Martian at the movie theater. Glad I saw it on blu-ray at least.)


This year, I’ve seen Captain America: Civil War twice (took my niece the second time), Zootopia, and now Finding Dory. I hope to see several others on my list—like Doctor Strange; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Suicide Squad; and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

zootopia-poster-01   captain-america-civil-war-movie-poster

A number of factors work against my desire to go to a movie theater: higher prices; films that are all style and no substance; and rude moviegoers. In one movie theater I attended, a group of teens talked loudly and ran around the theater until the manager threw them out—halfway through the movie. So I usually head to the cheap theaters, reserving the first-run experience for the movies I want to see the most. And I tend to see movies I really want to see, rather than take a chance on an unknown the way I used to do. (Same with books, sadly.)


(By the way, many critics declared that Jurassic World lacked substance. Though the characters were underdeveloped (and some were downright annoying), the movie’s entertainment value made up for the lack of substance—at least for me.)

I miss the days when my good friend who lived next door, my brother, and I would look at each other and say, “Let’s go to the movies.” And then off we’d go without a second thought. Back in the day, Spielberg movies were always a draw for us, along with those of John Carpenter, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, and others.

I also miss some of the element of surprise. Nowadays, with incessant internet trailers that give too much away, and people blabbing spoilers on social media, you practically know everything about a movie before you walk in the theater. To maintain at least some of the surprise, I tend to avoid watching more than one trailer for the movies I’m determined to see at the theater.

Still another thing I miss is having a slate of movies to choose from with well-developed plots, dialogue, and pacing. Instead, we might get one good movie and several well-this-is-sort-of-okay-though-it-is-a-dumbed-down-adaptation-of a-well-known-book/inferior-remake/sequel-of-a-better-film. That’s why I love the adage at Pixar: “Story is king.” (They also have the twenty-two rules below.) I wish many studios believed that.

Pixar's 22 Rules of Phenomenal Storytelling

How many movies did you see at the theater last year? What do you like or dislike about the movie-going experience? What movie are you excited to see this year?

Brooklyn movie poster from Jurassic World movie poster from Inside Out movie poster from Finding Dory movie poster from Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster from The Martian movie poster from Zootopia movie poster from Captain America: Civil War movie poster from Movie theater clip art from Pixar rules from

44 thoughts on “See You at the Movies?

  1. Jurassic World: my dinosaur loving son James went to see that three times! As for spoilers, I was so glad I somehow avoided the Han Solo thing in December, even though the shock did ruin my Christmas! Looking forward to Rogue One.

    • I know! I’m glad I avoided them too. That was miraculous, considering how many people spoiled the Harry Potter series for me years ago when I read the books.

      Jurassic World was very entertaining! I’ve probably seen it three or four times.

  2. I remember going to see a movie every weekend during the summer when I was younger. Now, I save money and can really only go when we have a babysitter. Unless it’s a movie that the kid can see now that he’s mastered theater etiquette. At least he doesn’t talk and cry. One problem that I’ve had is the movies simply aren’t interesting. It isn’t even the sequels and reboots thing, but that it’s being done so lazily. So I don’t have that urge to see things in the theater. There’s probably only 2-3 (maybe 4) movies this year that I’m considering going to. Finding Dory, Suicide Squad, Pete’s Dragon, and Tarzan. That last one is still iffy and the third one is if the kid is still interested. Beyond that, I don’t necessarily care about seeing movies before they’re in Redbox or on TV. This is probably going to cost me, especially since I read that Disney movies (Marvel, Star Wars, etc.) will become Netflix exclusives later this year. So I’ll be missing out on those franchises for a while.

    • I forgot about Pete’s Dragon! And I saw a trailer for that one. Looks good!

      I know what you mean. Redbox and Netflix are so convenient. My friends have the same issue–it’s hard to get a babysitter, which adds still more to the cost of going to a movie. And if the movie is lackluster, you hate to keep taking chances. That’s why I was so choosy about the movies I spent money at the theater to see. I don’t want to pay full price for something I can get cheaper through Redbox or Netflix.

      • I grew up with the original, but I’m curious about this one. Barely remember how the first one went, so that probably helps.

        Fear of lackluster performances is what keeps me home for a bunch of movies. That and when the trailer reveals too much. I can handle it if it’s a movie/type that I haven’t seen before. Part of an established franchise or a reboot? I’d rather not know too much. Probably why I’m sticking to kid movies with my son. Even if I can tell what’s going to happen, I know he doesn’t feel that way and he’ll be excited no matter what.

      • Trailers are pretty bad now. I wish they’d listen to the fans and YouTube reviewers who have complained for a while that studios are revealing too much. Or they seem the same with the same beats and style of other trailers. I was totally sick of the X-Men trailer, which kept saying the same thing over and over and seemed the same as other action movie trailers.

        I thought the Star Wars trailers were done well. They provided enough information to get a viewer interested.

        I’m waiting for The Secret Life of Pets. Does your son like the Ice Age movies? Yet another sequel is coming out.

      • I felt the same about the Civil War trailer. Comic book franchise movies seem to be the worst this year. The Star Wars trailers were done to hide things like how important Rey was, which did bite them in the ass a little bit afterwards. You need to draw people in, but so many movies are trying to do that with: ‘LOOK AT THE FIGHT SCENES!’ Sad thing is that if it changes, you’ll have a new group of complainers rise up because they feel the trailers are too vague. That or they went to see the movie and it was nothing like the trailer. Maybe all the whining about that issue is what caused this new trend.

        My son is iffy on Ice Age. He liked Scrat for a few weeks, but now he doesn’t care for him.

      • I managed to avoid the Civil War trailer after that first viewing. But for some reason, I couldn’t get away from the X-Men trailer. 😦 Yes, superhero film trailers are pretty one-note. It’s time for a paradigm shift. I’m tired of characters running at each other, tired of the same musical cues.

        I’m done with Ice Age. I saw the first two. No more for me!

      • The 4th one (Continental Drift) was pretty good. As for the superhero movie changes, I don’t think we’ll see that with Marvel and X-Men. Especially Marvel because Disney loves its tried and true tactics. They’ll only change if future movies do poorly, which probably won’t happen. As odd as it sounds, DC might be more flexible in terms of story notes since they’re working from the bottom.

      • I’m pulling for DC to produce some good movies. It’s hard when you don’t have the money that Disney has to throw around. But people like the DC franchises on TV. I hope Suicide Squad does well.

      • DC/Warner Bros. has the money, but they tried to go a different direction than Marvel and aimed too big. Then again, I’ve seen people change their tune over the extended edition because they edited out some important 30 minutes. The truth is that DC is going to get lambasted no matter what because Marvel is currently the king and that fandom is highly protective of the status. Honestly, that’s one of the things that turned me off to Civil War. I’m one of those people who will walk away from a franchise if the fandom becomes toxic.

      • And that’s sad. 😦 I wish people weren’t so vocal on social media about what they hate and why everyone else should hate it. Sometimes fans can ruin things, instead of drawing others in.

        A company I used to work for published some graphic novels by DC artists. The artists were great to work with.

      • I think it’s the desire to be part of the mob, the seduction of negativity, and a hope that your comment/post goes viral. Still, there are those with genuine complaints and I’m fine with that. The pile on is what really turned me off since it kept going until it felt like the bashing of BvS was a strong part of the Civil War promoting.

      • Sigh! And the bashing of one in favor of the other is really not necessary. Some of us like DC and Marvel, having grown up with both!

        I saw some really good reviews of BvS by true DC (and Marvel) fans. They had some issues with the film, but there were a lot of things they loved about it.

  3. I think the only movie I saw at the theater last year was American Sniper. Was that last year? I was amazed by the number of people looking at their phones rather than the screen.
    I used to love the experience of going to the theater, and I went often. My attendance has dropped over the last 7 years or so primarily because of the poor selection. I want to leave the theater feeling good, not depressed and unable to hear.

    • I know what you mean, Jill. Why should we pay to be depressed?
      Everyone clapped at the end of Finding Dory. And from what I could say, everyone was paying attention to the movie. I’ve been in theaters where a lot of the people were checking their phones or even talking on them, despite the warning about phones on the screen. 😦

  4. Wonderful piece! I didn’t know about Pixar’s 22 Rules – and my neighborhood is littered with their employees… WordPress and I have yet to resolve my password situation, so I’m letting you know that I “Like” this even if my photo isn’t popping up with your other fans. Sending love, P

  5. I watch 2 movies a week. On Netflix DVD. At home ~> allowing me to pause, rewind, add sub-titles, take a bathroom back, or get a snack . . . on my schedule.

    The last time we went to the movies was a few years back. We won the tickets. The seats were comfortable. The theatre wasn’t overcrowded. None of the audience was behaving badly. But I still prefer watching in my own living room.

  6. I think the last film I saw in the cinema was The Martian. I do enjoy going to the cinema occasionally but for me it always was an occasional thing. On the whole I prefer the big visual sci-fi films on the big screen, but dramas with a lot of talking (my preferred type of film really) I enjoy at home, partly because I often need to use the subtitles because the accents make the dialogue hard to understand.

    • Same here! I usually have the subtitles on. And I also love to watch sci-fi films on the big screen. But with The Martian, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be like Interstellar or not, so I waited until it was available for home viewing. How sad, because I completely loved it!

  7. I’m spoiled as my local library always gets the newest movies on DVD, so I can see as many movies that I want for free (and legally), so most of the time I wait for the film to come to DVD and then I’ll just get it from my library.

    Having said that, there are always a few exceptions that I wanna see in theaters, basically all Disney Canon and Pixar films. I also wanna see Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange in theaters.

  8. Let’s see, for ‘normal’ movies, we saw ‘Zootopia’. It took some doing because we really didn’t want to see it as we felt the best part was the Sloth-preview, but because my cousin really wanted to see it…well we did and it was fun. Also, saw ‘The Minions’. As you know, I do love Stuart…We ended up at the “dollar” theatre (though it’s really $5) for both, but missed out on ‘The Martian’. Saw ‘Jurassic World’ and was surprised at the fact that we really enjoyed it! HA!

    Where we currently live has no art film theatres which we used to frequent often back in the day. We miss that slice of culture for sure. But for us, it’s all about being part of a ‘date’ and going out, so while we watch Amazon Movies, DVDs etc…going to the theatre is just a special treat.

    The biggie for us was going to see ‘The Maltese Falcon’ on a special showing on the big screen like how it was shown back in the day when our folks’ generation got to see it. Hubby is a real old-movie geek and we have DVDs, Video Tapes of all manner of those genre movies…but nothing is quite like seeing them in the format in which they were intended.

    Case in point: we know the storyline, the dialogue, the moves etc of this movie practically by heart, but when we saw it in the theatre, we saw and heard stuff we never did before and actually understood the pacing of the story better…

    And as for which movie I’d like to see this year, I’m afraid it’d not be a movie but a Broadway Show: ‘Hamilton’…but of course tickets are unavailable and prohibitive!!!!

    Anyway, that’s my long-winded 2cents!

    BTW: I always enjoy your blog posts! 🙂

    • Hi, Laura! I would love to see Hamilton also. It is coming to my area. Unfortunately, the tickets are already sold out for the year!! And I heard that a lot of people from New York bought tickets, because it was cheaper to fly here to see the show than to see it in New York.

      The minions are so adorable!

      We have an art house not far from where I live. So that’s where I see foreign films. 🙂 And occasionally they will release a classic film. Those are fun to see.

  9. I don’t go to the movies nearly as much as I used to either. In New York the tickets are twice as expensive as where I grew up, so it has to be something I really, really want to see. I did just see the Me Before You movie with a friend though.

  10. Like many of your commenters, and you, I do not go to the movies very often – thought I love seeing movies in a theater. The biggest deterrent is the cost of movies these days. I refuse to pay full price and Tom doesn’t like going during the day, though I will go alone if I really want to see a movie, which I did with Brooklyn. We did see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, A Walk in the Woods, and Cinderella. Pretty exciting, eh?! Oh, how could I forget? It’s a Wonderful Life at the Tivoli in Downers Grove in December. If you haven’t seen an old movie at the Tivoli, you MUST.

    I am old enough to remember going to the local theater in Maywood, The Lido, with my cousins or friends to see double features in the summer, sometimes on a Saturday in the winter. It was exciting to be a theater with the lights off in the middle of the day and where I fell in love with Frankie Avalon and wanted to dye my head blond and be Doris Day. Snow White and Cinderella were Disney favorites and sharing a strand of spaghetti with Lady and the Tramp always sends me in a swoon. In high school, I was “on assignment” to review “Camelot” downtown, as well as a special showing of “Gone With the Wind”.

    • I went to the Tivoli to see Lemony Snicket once. They showed the movie based on three of his books–A Series of Unfortunate Events. One a thousand people showed up too.

      I remember the neighborhood theaters. My brothers and I used to go. My parents took us to another neighborhood theater to see various Disney films. We also went to the drive-in! There is a drive-in near me that still does business!

      I’ll go to the movies by myself if I want to see a film. I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens by myself. Everyone else was away.

      My sister-in-law likes special showings too. We went to see a sing-along version of The Sound of Music.

      • Such fun ways to enjoy movies. I love how the powers that be revived the Tivoli. There is a hotel around that corner. The kind where there are permanent boarders with an old-fashioned lobby and cubby holes for mail.

        How nice that drive-ins are still in business. I never went back to one after I knocked the speaker over pulling in. 😦

Your Turn to Talk

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s