Favorite Places: The Movie Theater

popcorn - photo by flickr user PersonalCreationsphoto by personalcreations on flickr

Today let’s take a break from food and talk about one of my great loves: movies. Not just movies in general, but specifically the act of going to the movie theater, which for me is a night and day experience to watching anything at home. Now, I can understand the impulse to stay in and rent something (or binge watch a new TV show); it can be hard to make the case for going out when ticket prices have doubled; popcorn, candy, and a coke cost as much as dinner out; and audiences now check their phones or text during the show. It’s maddening, especially the phone usage. People who use their phones during a movie (other than in the case of an emergency, obviously) make me see red.

But even considering every comfort home could offer, to me there’s nothing that can match the experience of going to the movies. In the theater you can’t multi-task, can’t pause it to change the laundry, or scroll through Instagram — all things that take you right out of the experience. Being in the theater means committing. Being in the dark, eyes on the big screen, with nowhere else to go but on the ride of the story. For someone like me, with a busy mind and a busy body, a theater is the only way to truly watch anything with full-attention.

My parents started taking my brother and me to the movies when we were very young–and not just to family-friendly Mrs. Doubtfire and Free Willy, but everything. The older I got, the more I loved going. Some families would go to church every Sunday, but our sanctuary was the Regal Cinema in Bellingham. So it made sense that after my dad died, my mom and I both took seats in one of the 14 theaters there, and found an escape watching movies. Like just about everyone in 1997, we became obsessed with Titanic, and saw it dozens of times that year. But it took on a special significance for us, almost as this 3-hour respite from the grief, or maybe just a place to cry. It was strangely healing for such a heartbreaking time. I haven’t seen Titanic again since I saw it with my mom back in early 1998. I don’t know that I will, not because I don’t want to, but because I’m scared it’ll change the memory I have of that time with my mom.

When I first met Daniel in 2003, he wasn’t the movie lover he is now. I remember him saying that he liked to watch bad movies to laugh at them. I was stumped by that. Who liked bad movies? But over the years, maybe through the film classes we took, maybe through me rubbing off on him (wouldn’t I love to give myself that credit), maybe just through growing up, he came around, loving them easily as much as I did. Today he has this enviable, almost encyclopedic knowledge of film, and our shared movie love is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. What I love even more than that? If Daniel is ever home in Massachusetts anywhere near my mom (are you in Massachusetts? She will find you), they’ll go to the movies together.

Do you still enjoy going to the movies? What was the first movie you saw in the theater?

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9 thoughts on “Favorite Places: The Movie Theater

  1. Cassie

    Prancer! I was 7, and my mom took me with my then best friend, Ashley. It was late (I think maybe even a school night) and my mom bought me Reese’s PB Cups to snack on (my fav!). When I moved South for college, I really missed New England, so guess what came in a care package one day?! “Prancer” and some Reese’s PB cups. It’s still one of our favorite movies to watch together, and I always get a phone call if it happens to be on TV. Only the original though, not the second one. Never mess with the original!

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  2. Marisa

    I absolutely love going to the movies. I definitely don’t do it as much as I used to, just because it’s so expensive and I don’t have the free time I used to. But there is definitely something so satisfying about sitting in the dark, eating some popcorn, and losing yourself in a story. I love that feeling.

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  3. Judy

    I’m sure it was a black and white Cary Grant movie. A little theatre in a small town in North Dakota. I seldom get to go now due to cost, but good memories. I do plan to see the new Bourne movie in the theatre. Thanks for giving my mind a field trip.

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  4. Isa

    What I’ve realized now that I’m dieting is that what I love about going to the movies is actually being able to buy a ton of junk food and hide in the dark to eat it all while zoning out. Sad, I know. Now that I’m done with this kind of behaviors, movies are not so interesting anymore :(

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  5. Michelle

    Love movies and going to a theatre or drive in ! We’re lucky here to still have a drive in movie theatre that’s open every year starting right after Easter through Labor Day. The first I remember seeing was The Rescuers at the drive in when I was about 5. Love that me and my cousins could all pile in the back of my aunt and uncle’s truck with my parents too and we’d bring our own popcorn and drinks and curl up under blankets and watch or play outside before the movie started. the first I remember seeing in a movie theater was Star Wars, which my dad took my sister and I to on Thanksgiving afternoon in 1977. We didn’t go to many movies then and it was a hugely special thing to do, and seeing those movies together is still a tradition for us.

    Titanic is one of my favorites ever and I’m so excited to see it tomorrow night in Chicago where the Chicago Symphony will be playing the soundtrack with the movie playing on huge screens. They’ve done this with Harry Potter and Raiders of the Lost Ark too. Love that they bring it even more to life with the orchestra right there. Can’t wait!

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  6. Lecy | A Simpler Grace

    I have to admit, I recently went to the theater and when the opening credits started to roll, I had a moment of panic because I didn’t know what I was going to do in addition to watching the movie. I am so guilty of folding laundry and making dinner or even reading a book (sad, I know) while watching a film. I am happy to admit that I managed to enjoy the movie and didn’t touch my phone while I was there and I forgot how nice it is to single-task and enjoy the experience of being in the theater. It was refreshing!

    The first movie I ever saw was Labyrinth with David Bowie. I went with my childhood best friend and slept over at her house that night and remember staying up so late talking about how amazing that movie was. Such great memories. Thank you for this post! It was lovely to recall the special memories from my time in a movie theater. :)

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  7. Used Big and Tall

    I find the movies directly tied to food myself. I can’t walk in and smell fresh popped popcorn and not have some. My solution is to only have a small instead of a large. Seems to be working since I have lost 20 pounds in the last few months.

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  8. Liz

    One of our favorite joys is viewing a good movie at the theater. When we started on our journey in weight loss it was struggle to go to the movies. The smell of fresh popcorn can be intoxicating almost a “high”. Before our journey , my husband always love the “butter” on the top of the popcorn, sometimes a small candy or ice cream item and we shared. We still go to the movies, purchase popcorn but no more do we top it with so call “butter” (which isn’t real) and no more extras. It’s always a “special” day to enjoy a movie together…..eating popcorn. Still one of those simple joys that mean so much more now that we both have been on our journey towards “Healthy”.

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