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Saturday 15 December 2001

To The Movies

We made one of our rare ventures out of the house tonight, and saw Ocean’s Eleven. Despite the potentially annoying presence in the cast of Ms. Julia Roberts (what is the deal with her? She is not much of an actress — better than I am, yes, but not extraordinarily talented relative to the competition, and she is not good-looking. I can understand why she gets work, but not why she’s this giant star), it is quite a fun movie. A real old-fashioned Caper flick, except that there’s not enough drinking and smoking. Go see it.

Anyway, that’s not my main point. My main point is that we paid over $30, including popcorn, to sit in uncomfortable seats in an overheated “theater” and to watch the movie on a screen not much bigger than the one we have at home. Though I will admit that the screen we have at home is extraordinarily large, for a screen at home.

There were no cupholders, and there wasn’t enough space for me to cross my legs properly so I could balance my snacks on my foot — the seats were that narrow. Oh, and after the house lights went down and before the trailers started, we got to watch at least four separate advertisements, including the oh-so-clever (not to mention fresh) Mountain Dew ad where the guy butts heads with the goat.

I won’t be going back to that theater (Reston Multiplex, run by these people, who seem to ultimately be Viacom) any time soon. Airlines at least get you some place while you watch a movie on a tiny screen from and uncomfortable seat. Products that are solely amusements have to pay a little more attention to the customer’s satisfaction and sense of value, because they’re totally discretionary. I understand the economics of movie theaters well enough to know why they are need such narrow seats and such expensive popcorn. The problem is not the theater operators, it’s the movie studios. The studio gets nearly all — better than 90% in most cases — of the face value of your ticket. I say it’s time for the theaters to start pushing back on the studios, though.

Posted by tino at 00:19 15.12.01
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