Me and cinemas

I don’t like going to the cinema. For the most part I absolutely adore the films I make the effort to go and see in the cinema, but that’s a far lower number per year on average than a film buff like me should admit to.

At my local multiplex it starts with just the usual stuff – it’s expensive, the drinks are syrupy and the seats are uncomfortable, of course – but the whole film-going experience is usually soured for me before the blurry BBFC certificate even comes up.

Bernard Black cinema quote

Seat allocation

Cineworld is now allocating seats, which is all well and good for an opening Friday night, but me and my lady went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past (which was bloody BRILLIANT by the way – I’ll have more on that soon) on a Tuesday afternoon, 3pm screening. The screening room wasn’t empty but there certainly wasn’t any jostling for position – we took our pre-determined seats near the back without any cause for confusion with other ticket-holders. The onscreen placeholder now says “Seat Allocation – are you sure you’ve got the right seats?” before the film starts, to which I felt like – even if we haven’t, it would be silly of someone to try and get them when there are so many free ones, and not to mention a bit creepy if some random decides to get their seat next to yours in an otherwise empty room.

I don’t even like sitting in a full screening – I realise the value of a live comedian playing to a full room, but sure as hell don’t get the appeal of watching a film in a room that’s jam-packed with mouth-breathers laughing and/or gasping. (In fact I don’t mind admitting my own out-loud reactions as the film played: mainly “euggghh” every time Halle Berry appeared.)

The ads

Then comes the adverts. Not the trailers, the adverts. Commercials are for television, a platform that’s mostly commercially-funded, but if I’ve paid cash money to watch a film in the cinema then why should I have to sit through ads before the film starts? I hate it. They’re not even the usual TV ad fare – the tone is even more sickeningly aspirational than you’d see on the box. It wouldn’t be such a problem but I’m here in this case to watch a (prequel to a) film about (the) Apocalypse – the rise of the machines which are coming to destroy an entire race of people. I’m not about to wish it all away just to sip soft drinks with my grinning idiot friends or eat pizza without a crust on it. I’m here to escape from real life, dammit, not be reminded of how aspirational and smug its inhabitants can be.

Worst of all, having spent the past ten years telling you to turn your phones off before the film begins, they’re now telling you to keep them on and use their app during the special adverts! Thanks to the wonder that is Cinime you’re supposed to leave your phone on until the film starts!

“Once you’ve got your snacks and drinks and found your seat, switch your phone to silent and leave your cinime app open. It’ll respond and interact with the screen while you sit back and enjoy the ads, delivering content, offers and discounts directly to your phone.”

I cannot begin to describe how much this outrages me. I work in marketing, for fuck’s sake, and even I’m sick of the word ‘content’ being bandied about when it’s not a part of my bloody job! I shouldn’t be offering consumers ‘content’, I should be offering them words, pictures, music and videos. It’s a bloody lazy thing to do, it really is. For advertisers it seems that turning your mobile off at the cinema was just fine until they realised they could try to make money from you by ignoring the rules of common courtesy and getting you to leave them on.

(To be fair, the one advert they ran during this special section – which came with a special intro and outro and so looked very odd to only contain one ad – was for Scope, a charity that’s doing such good things for such deserving people that I don’t even mind giving them the link.)

Luckily my cinema-going experience improved mightily as about half an hour into the film I knew it was going to be awesome, and it was. But the whole painful preceding part is enough to make me stay away from the cinema almost entirely these days, and that’s not only sad but also quite probably responsible for so much of the ‘downloadin’’ that the guy from that GI Joe PSA takes so much offence to.

For me to pay a lot of money for cinema tickets, food and drink, and then have the piss taken out of me at every turn by money-grabbing shits all the way up until the film starts – more than half an hour after the screening starts by the way if you include the trailers which obviously vary in intrigue – is just interminable. The film has to be really, really promising for me to even bother any more. And that makes me sad.

12 thoughts on “Me and cinemas

  1. Whatever happened to cinema etiquette? That’s what I want to know.

    I’ve told off the young, the old, the illuminated-by-their-phones, the chewers, the chair kickers, the managers (YOUR FILM IS IN THE WRONG ASPECT RATIO!), the selfie-taking-during-film (seriously), and the plain old incessantly chatty.

    When it boils down to it, despite cinemas having fewer ushers, projectionists (what’s one of them?), cleaners, and cashiers, I seem to have a bloody fortune for the privilege of being irate.

    • Yep, nobody has manners in the cinema any more. When I went to see Cap at a cinema in Cardiff, people started talking as the film started! They’d sat patiently through what felt like three hours of ads and trailers, but piped up when the film started! Awful.

  2. I recently I took my small child to watch the glory of Postman pat the movie, we had to sit through 25 minutes of trailers and ads – she’s fucking 2! She doesn’t give a crap about any of the things advertised (not toys but just random “u” certified ads) and I wasn’t watching as I try to keep her attention when things that were not Postman Pat where on the big telly.

    So I’m with ya, and the phone thing is just silly – vw did a similar thing regarding “don’t look at your phone while driving” it is quite clever but annoying hardly anyone had previously turned their phone off.

  3. Must be honest, I’m very impressed with how Everyman has done away with a lot of the ‘crap’ that the multiplexes make you put up with.

    They let you in during the ads, not before. You can have a beer and you can actually have proper food – not some overly salty popcorn.

    Sure, you pay a premium for it, but you don’t come away feeling ripped off.

  4. I have a Cineworld Unlimited card, so i see a lot of films. What i usually do is have a full day each week where I go and watch as many films as possible. The ad/trailer time used to be 20 mins it has now crept up to 30, i tried to complain and was told it’s always been like that.

    If i see four films that’s 2 hours of crap…….i could’ve seen another film in that time. It frustrates me a lot.

    We don’t have allocated seating yet but there are signs up saying it’s coming. I think it’s just a way to try and force people to prebook online. But for me that’s not possible because they only let unlimited card holders have one prebooking at a time.

    • Yeah, I’d definitely agree that it’s for pre-booking. Such a shame.

      I’d love to get an Unlimited card but it wouldn’t be worth it as there’s so few films that I’m interested in seeing these days. Aside from a couple of repeat viewings of DOFP that is!

  5. When I become rich and famous, the first thing I’ll do is buy my own cinema screen for my house, and invite all the poxy chavs in so I can then eject them promptly. Then I’ll watch the film in peace, whilst moaning to the cinema manager that I’ve hired that the place is always empty and costing me a fortune.

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