Maybe one day we'll just live in movie theaters.
That's the future I imagine whenever I think of the concurrent battle between cinema auditoriums and our living rooms. We keep trying to replicate the movie theater experience in our homes, whether we're buying the biggest TV available or incorporating 3D into our entertainment system or buying microwave popcorn made to taste like the kind you get at the concession stand.
Meanwhile, theater owners are trying to replicate the home-entertainment experience with dining options (because we all eat dinner in front of the set) and alcohol and recliner seats. If only they'd let us fast-forward the ads.
Everything might be getting comfier at the movies, but that's not necessarily a great thing for someone like me. Give me a big reclining chair, a heavy meal and a pint of beer and I'll probably fall asleep by the end of the first act of a movie. I guess that's cool if they're really trying to mimic my home experience. I doze off in movies all the time there, too. But I don't pay $15 for such "luxury."
Sure, I want some comfort at the movies, especially for the escapist fare, but some of these amenities are getting a little too familiar. Next they'll be offering the opportunity to sit in my underwear and pause the show (sorry folks) for bathroom breaks.
Some things theater chains are doing aren't anything like the home experience, though. There's reserved seating, which I guess wouldn't be that necessary in your living room unless you have a large family and few favored couches or chairs. I can't say I've ever worried enough about where I sit at the movies to be interested in reservations. Not enough that I don't just get there early enough, anyway.
Then there are the D-Box motion chairs, which are pretty neat if you don't give a damn about the movie you're going to see. They're a little distracting and not quite as compatible with the escapist desires of blockbusters as they might seem on paper.
Here's what I'd like: seats that are as comfy as can be that have a special D-Box type component. It somehow senses when my eyes are shut and shakes me back awake.
Surely I'm just an old man and the only one who'd ever complain about AMC's plan to convert a third of its theaters by adding in wider seats that go all the way back. I shouldn't go to the movies if I can't stay awake, anyway. Or maybe I need a new amenity inspired by casinos: oxygen pumped into the auditorium.
Seriously, though, my only desired amenity is a nice big screen with quality projection. Same as it's always been. If I had to choose another, it'd be ushers in the auditorium at all times, monitoring for phone use, talking, crying babies and other annoyances. Contrary to what theater chains think, I don't want the movie theater to be like my home.
What theater amenity (reclining seats, reserved seats, D-Box seats, alcohol, etc.) best draws you to the movies?
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