Irene North


When other people cause the magic to fade

On any given Sunday, the movie theater was where you used to be able to find me. Cinemas 6 in the Caldor Plaza was about a mile’s walk from home. It eventually expanded to become Cinemas 9. My friend, Doug, and I would spend the day there, arriving for the first show around 11 a.m., and leaving after the last, near midnight.

Before going, a plot was made of each movie and which theater it was in or the time listing from the newspaper was torn out and kept in my pocket. As each movie ended, we walked with the exiting crowd, slipping into the next open theater.

Employees and management didn’t seem to mind. We didn’t cause trouble. If we were loud and disruptive, we’d be kicked out.

The old Cinema 6 building in Middletown, New York.

Sneaking into the movies wasn’t where my love of film began. Late night scary movies were a staple of my childhood. My family would often watch Creature Features and Chiller Theater. Elvira came to us through our television screens. My love of B-movies came from these late night television fests.

In college, there was the Starship 9. For $1.50, you could see a movie at a cheap price. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln demolished it after they bought the whole block as part of their master plan. The Douglas 3 on the same block was also removed.

Sadly, as time goes on, I go to the movies less often. It has nothing to do with a lack of disposable income. It has everything to with the people who also attend a show and the lack of movies I want to see.

Filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Sofia Coppola are urging audiences to see their films on the big screen where they are meant to be seen and not to wait until they are on other platforms, such as Amazon or Netflix. Nolan’s “Dunkirk” will be released later this year.

“This is a story that needs to carry you through the suspenseful situation, and make you feel like you are there, and the only way to do that is through theatrical distribution,” Nolan told the audience, according to Variety. “I am depending and relying on all of you to try to present this film in the best way possible.”

While I agree, Nolan’s “Dunkirk” should be seen on the big screen, I believe he also has a responsibility to address the reasons why people don’t want to visit movie theaters anymore.

I don’t people who kick the back of my seat. I don’t like people who use their phones or feel the need to talk throughout the movie. I don’t like screaming babies or toddlers running around while I’m trying to watch a film. I don’t like children asking questions during the movie because their parents have brought them to a movie well beyond their understanding.

Why does a parent bring a 5-year old to a R-rated movie anyway? Can’t afford a babysitter? Then, maybe you shouldn’t go to the movies. It’s not my fault you chose to have a kid. You don’t get to ruin my experience because of your life choices.

The best way to handle these problems is pepper spray or tranquilizer darts, but society frowns upon this, so I stay home instead.

While places like Alamo Drafhouse have policies to rectify these problems, there isn’t one anywhere near Scottsbluff.

The AMC movie theater in town has small theaters. Soundproofing was not a priority as you can hear the movie next door. The floors are always sticky. The seats are covered in questionable material that probably shouldn’t be there. The arm rests broken or wobbly. There are always people talking. If Nolan and Coppola aren’t willing to address these issues don’t be surprised when someone like me stops going.

There is also the problem with demographics. Theaters in the Scottsbluff area consistently show family movies or whatever the next blockbuster is supposed to be.

Dredd, one of my favorite movies, never came to Scottsbluff. I waited and waited, but never saw a listing anywhere. While I love big movies like Star Wars and Planet of the Apes (please let the apes win), I also have a fondness for movies that aren’t the next blockbuster.

We are likely never to see movies like “Train to Busan,” “Zashchitniki” or “The Handmaiden.” I will be forced to either pirate it or wait for a DVD/Blu-ray I can purchase.

While the Midwest Theater tries to bring in movies I like, like “Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie,” they can only do so much. They aren’t my personal movie house. So, I don’t go to movies as often as I’d like.

Christopher Nolan is right. There is nothing like seeing a movie on the big screen. It’s too bad there is little choice for me here and the people have mostly ruined the experience.


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1 Comment

  1. Brook E. Wallace

    The cost disappoints me the most. It’s so much less expensive for multiple people to watch movies at home. And who wants to hear somebody constantly crunching or digging into their popcorn or Milk Dud box? I also hate missing part of the movie when I need a refill or to use the restroom—it’s nice to be able to pause it at home. And I really hate not being able to kick back with a beer in hand!

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