I have giant plasmas and LCD TVs at home, with surround sound that penetrates my body like a sigmoidoscope.
I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want to, with whomever I choose to.
That said, no matter what I'm watching, it still ain't "A Night at the Movies."
Going to the movies is an experience!
Well, it should be.
And to that end, as promised Monday, this post about how to make it one.
To show how easy this really could be, let's keep all the cinema "hardware" constant--the seats, the screens, the food, the box office...even the films themselves.
The only thing I'll change (for now, ha ha!) is the opening scenario. So let's walk through it together.
Let's imagine that we've entered the theater, taken our seats, and endured those chintzy trivia questions, the ads and the previews. Suddenly, the screen fades to dark, a musical flourish rings throughout, and a spotlight hits a person, an actual live person with a mic, standing in front of the screen.
Imagine him, or her, kicking off the show by saying this to you:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Nulman Multiplex and the 9:10 p.m. screening of Pan's Labyrinth.
"Our statistics show that our 9 o'clock screenings are our most popular, so please try to make room for all of your fellow film lovers who have bought tickets.
If you have to go to the bathroom, you have 90 seconds starting about now...so if you hurry, you can be back for my grand exit. Anybody have any questions before I go on?"
More than just an "intro," this serves as start of a new kind of cinematic relationship. The silliness of the bathroom joke/mention breaks the ice, and puts people at ease. The brave of the bunch may actually pose a question or two, graduating the moment to interactive status. Now it's time to bring people together with some soft-peddling of the usual warning announcements.
"Going to the movies is a shared journey, so let's make it a pleasant one for all of us. Do each other a favor and turn off your cellphones, unwrap all your candies and gum, and whisper some last words, because for the next two hours, the only noise you should hear is the sound from our 27 speakers.
"Okay, and your own shrieks of delight...
"And remember, not only is film piracy a bummer, but it's illegal. But we know that none of you here would be foolish enough to do something so uncool, right?"
Again, a bit of interactivity. And the hard stuff is out of the way. Now, it's time to set up the experience with some inside info.
"You people are in for a real treat tonight. This film has been nominated for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar, and although it's subtitled, the incredible story, the amazing performances and the eye-popping--literally eye-popping!--special effects will make the dialog come alive loud and clear in your heads.
"Something you may not know about this film is that director Guillermo del Toro insisted on building the whole mill set from scratch, to ensure proper camera angles and atmosphere.
"Look out for Doug Jones, a mime who plays two integral roles: the Faun and the Pale Man monster. He'll show you why they call this 'An Adult Fairy Tale Nightmare'.
"And by the way, who's sitting in row 17, aisle seat? Well, this is for you...a card that entitles you to a free large popcorn every time you see a movie here. Enjoy!"
Oooh! Sneak previews! Something to look out for! A bit of Pow! (Well, what did you expect?) And now the close. Just about every museum, theme park ride, even church, in the world ensures that nobody leaves without a chance to upsell 'em on something. So why should cinemas be any different? Consider this, then:
"So get ready for a wild cinematic ride. And don't forget, on your way out, you can pick up the film's soundtrack, a 'Making Of' DVD, or advance tickets to The Simpsons Movie at our 'See You Next Time' booth.
Well, it's time. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nulman Multiplex is proud to present...Pan's Labyrinth!
Okay, so I won't win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
But the cost of this screen playing? A few bucks.
The benefits? A multitude, starting with the conversion of what is now akin to herding cattle into something that's informative and personal. Should be good for the bottom line as well, with additional revenue-generating opportunities.
It's not easy. Not every multiplex employee has the composure or spirit to pull this off. But with so many out-of-work or wannabe actors and comedians around, I think that this gig would be a cool one...and better than waiting tables.
So there you have it. The way things would be done at MY moviehouse.
My work here is done. I think I'll go grab a bag of popcorn.