Friday, February 22, 2008

I've got the going-to-the-movies blues

My husband and I took the kids to see Spiderwick last weekend, and it was a fun movie, a bit dark, but very exciting. We all enjoyed it. But what I really didn't enjoy was having to sit there a full half hour before the movie started, watching commercials. And they weren't even interesting commercials - they were awful things, low-budget local stuff and annoying larger-budget things - that were even repeated several times.

So, I thought, let me get this straight: I just spent $30 (plus popcorn and drinks) to sit here and be subjected to commercials for a half hour? It's bad enough that, after that, they give you another 30 minutes of coming attractions (many of which totally wreck the movie because they show you every plot twist and turn and joke in the whole film) - but at least those are movie related. Even my kids were irritated. The movie actually started a full forty minutes after its set time to start. Sure, we could have showed up 30 minutes after the start time, but we probably wouldn't have been able to get seats all together at that point.

Maybe I'm more sensitive to commercials because for the past year and a half we have not had any TV reception. We rent lots of movies and TV shows on DVDs through Netflix: no commercials! I love it! I am so tired of being bombarded with shouting voices urging me to buy buy buy in order to be happy. At Christmas time my kids actually have trouble coming up with a list to send to Santa because no one is telling them what they want. The more you don't have commercials, I think, the more they become annoying. The same for radio. I mostly listen to NPR or podcasts (no commercials). It's gotten to the point that commercial radio in the car is difficult to handle because of all the irritating jingles, shouting voices, nag, nag, buy this, you need that. I'm beginning to think that people become desensitized to commercials because they are so used to them.

I have to say, it kind of ruined the whole movie thing for me. And I have always loved going to the movies! But now it's becoming more appealing to get a large-screen TV, stay at home, and watch what I want to watch without having a half hour of my life wasted by a bunch of boring commercials. Maybe I'm just getting old....


  1. Those commercials are really bad. Remember when theaters used to show interesting things? The one theater that still does that down here is on the other side of Biloxi and although it's a very nice theater we don't make the 15 minutes out of the way drive when a "perfectly good theater" is closer *snort*.

    That's the whole reason why my uncle-in-law across the street bought a home theater system. It's really nice but they listen to it too loud. I much prefer my simple surround sound here.

  2. I take it your theater doesn't show you the Twenty or First Look or whatever that 20 minute pre-movie show is that so many of the theaters I go to play over and over again. They're basically clips of coming attractions on TV and movies (much like previews--very little substance. It gets old when you see the same episode over and over again. Of course, you'd have to be a frequent movie goer like me to run into that. Be glad you don't have to worry about it. I do know what you are talking about though. That is annoying. Hence why both hubby and I come armed with good conversation or books. Of course, this might not be convenient when you have children to look after and keep occupied. You could let them run up and down the aisles and have little races. Okay, so that's not really a good idea if you want to avoid getting kicked out, but it's a funny thought.

    The lighting isn't the best for reading, but we make do. I find it impossible to read through the trailers because the lights are dimmed by then, but I tend to not mind sitting through them unless they are the same ones I've seen six times already.

    Hubby and I tend to go to the early shows when no one else is quite ready for a movie yet. We usually also don't hit shows when they're at their peak. That way, we can arrive later and no have to worry about finding seats. It's harder to do though when you're going to a popular movie, especially one that attracts the younger viewers.

  3. Oops! I didn't mean to write so much!

  4. I hate the commercials before movies's ridiculous. When you're paying that much for a movie I don't understand why you have to sit through commercials...makes me mad! I'm the same as you...I tend to stick to my Netflix and I've switched to XM Radio...I don't mind paying for radio so that I don't have to sit through those damn annoying, loud, obnoxious commercials! I know what I want to buy...I don't need more consumer junk pushed on me. I do like my previews though ;)

  5. I'm with you, Darla! We hardly ever go to the movies anymore, vastly preferring to watch DVDs on our little flatscreen at home. And we watch all tv shows on DVD or downloaded from Netflix or iTunes. Besides eliminating the annoyance of commercials, skipping them saves time, so we can watch more actual show or do something else a lot more constructive. I love it!

  6. Ladytink - I guess different theaters do things differently, but the one we usually go to has become just awful with these commercials! I wish they still showed cartoons before movies! I think what makes me grumpiest is that I'm paying so much - there's shouldn't have to be ANY commercials. They are way too greedy.

    Literary Feline - I love that you took time to make a long comment! No apologies needed! No, our theater doesn't do the pre-movie show. I like when they do the quizzes and things (although those are usually interspersed with ads, too, aren't they?). That's funny about letting the kids have races - that would probably put even more people off going to the movies! :-)

    I like the idea of taking books, but it still annoys me that we have to do that, despite the high prices we're paying.

    Chris - we do a lot of live radio via the Internet, no commercials, hooked up to our sound system (including Pandora, which is kind of fun). I'll have to look into xm - I'm so happy to pay NOT to hear the commercials. And I do have to admit, I like the previews, too - I just wish they wouldn't give so much of the movie away!

    Mindy - isn't it amazing how quickly you can watch things without commericals? We download The Daily Show through iTunes, and the whole thing is only about 20 minutes. It makes my time on the rowing machine go very quickly (only it's hard to row when you're laughing hard!). I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way about avoiding commericials. :-)

  7. I'm right there with you on the commericals in movies thing. It's completely ridiculous. It's bad enough you have to pay the outrageous prices just to go. But if you do PAY to enjoy the movie, they should ditch the commercials. I throw a fit every time we hit the theaters about this very same thing.

    Of course, I don't think I've ever had to wait 40 minutes for a movie to start!

  8. I'm glad I'm not alone in my annoyance! And yes, 40 minutes WAS a longer time than usual to have to wait - I doubt I'd have been quite so irritated otherwise. You are right - you'd think we paid enough not to have to have all those commericals inflicted on us!

  9. Ugh, 40 minutes! That's just so irritating. Things like that, along with stuff like people who absolutely don't know how to sit through a movie quietly, are the reason why I wait for the DVDs more and more these days.

  10. The reason they've gotten so greedy is because less and less people have stopped going to the movies for the very reasons you've mentioned as well as the fact that lots of people would rather watch in the comfort of their own homes. Truly I think they're trying to regain some of that loss by increasing the cost.

    However they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot by making it so expensive without offering anything other than some greasy, overpriced popcorn and drinks. A theater experience should be enjoyable, not annoying.

  11. yes the commercials are bad but I enjoy the previews, the worst the movie the more my sister and I pan it (the only time during the experience we will talk out loud), hee hee.

  12. Nymeth - yes! And what about people who take their toddlers to see something like Spiderwick! Nothing like hearing some terrified kids wimpering to brighten the movie experience. (And they'll have lots to tell their therapists one day, I imagine.)

    Ladytink - remember when videos first came out (well, you probably don't, but I do!) and the movie theater owners were all worried it would be the end of them? Well, that didn't happen then, but if they aren't careful in this age of home theaters and surround sound, things might not go so well for them in the future.

    VA Gal - do you get worried the way I do when the previews for a movie you're about to see all look really, really bad? I worry the movie will be as bad. And sometimes that's the case!

  13. Wow an hour is a long time. I don't think I have been to a cinema that shows more than 20mins or so of commercials before a film and that includes traliers (which are always worth getting to the movie early for!). I am looking forward to Spiderwick coming out in the UK.

  14. Did I say an hour? It was about 40 minutes or so (including the previews). We got there early, so it probably seemed longer. If it had been all previews (no commercials) I wouldn't have minded so much! I enjoyed Spiderwick - although I couldn't really say how it compares to the book, because I'd read the book so long ago I had barely any memory of it.

  15. i'm shocked! i thought you always had a book with you! ;) whenever we go to a multi-plex, Honey and I always make sure to pack a book. we read, or check email, until they turn the lights out. usually, when the lights go out the two or three commercials they show aren't horrible. i don't give a shit about them, but they mostly don't make me want to poke my eyes out.

    i do agree, they're stupid and annoying. but i find pre-movie commercials less offensive than print ads on any open space. (that floor tile is empty; quick fill it with a coke ad!) what we're witnessing though is an advertising medium hanging on for dear life, and movie theaters getting whatever revenue they can. with the advent of TiVo and other DVRs, commercials are an endangered medium. while commercials have been in theaters for about the past 15 years, they have really exploded in the past 5. movie-goership declines each year, so movie theaters and their franchisees are trying to make up that difference in whatever way possible.

    i've found, though, that if you go to an independent or artsy theater, you're less likely to have to sit through those. while indie and arthouse theaters may not show family films, usually, sometimes a decent 2nd run theater will, and won't be as full of that crap. of the two burger/movie joints in this area that i know of, at least one shows multiplex movies w/o commercials or trailers.

    but why you hate on the trailers? yeah, some suck, but they're saving you the time of watching the film. plus, i really believe trailers and teasers are becoming their own artform. imagine having to condense all the junk i just wrote into 15 words or less and make it sound more interesting than it really is.

  16. Ha! You always crack me up, Molly! I don't really mind the trailers too much - but I still maintain they give away way too much of the movie, though. Maybe if the movie theaters made the experience a bit more positive, their viewership wouldn't be on such a decline. I have always LOVED going to the movies, but last weekend was the first time I really thought about giving up and just staying at home. Not that I will, of course - I just thought about it is all.


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