Susan and I went to see The Avengers on Thursday. Now if you know us, you realize what an unusual thing that is: I haven't been to a movie theater in seven years. I like movies, but I generally do not care for the experience of patronizing a theater. Most of my complaints relate to the audience, but there have been bad experiences with things wholly within the theater manager's control (stuffy and hot, exceedingly cold, muffled and/or low volume sound, aggravating bleedthrough from the explosion-fest next door, bad print quality, etc.).
When I mentioned this to one of our distributors, they were kind enough to send us two passes to see The Avengers, urging me to see it in a theater. So we went to Park 12 Cobb Theater, a Georgia Theater Company venue about a mile from my house, to see the 1:30 showing. Sat through the usual lead-in stuff (basically commercials for products mixed with commercials for teevee shows) until 1:30 arrived. The surround sound kicked in...
...And after 15 seconds, the screen went black while the sound continued to blast from all speakers.
After a couple of moments, the sound stopped, the digital projector was rebooted... and the same problem. Then a third time, with no solution in site. Finally, at 1:47, the theater manager came in, told us that the showing would have to be cancelled, and offered us a free ticket to a later show.
Since our only options at this point were other Georgia Theater Company theaters, we decided to drive over to Merchant's Walk, eight miles away, to catch the 3pm showing. Thankfully, their projector worked just fine (although during that first 15 seconds, I kept expecting another blackout to occur), the movie ran without problems, and all was good.
For all those people who kept telling me how much better the experience is in a theater, I say "not so much." Had we chosen to sit in the back are of the theater, where everyone else was sitting in stadium seats so as to be more or less level with the center of the screen, the actual perceived screen size would have been no larger than the screen size of the upstairs television where we watch most programming. Certainly the theater screen is larger--but when you're almost a theater-length away, it's not that encompassing an experience at all. Susan and I remedied that by moving down to the floor, about twelve rows back from the screen, so that the movie filled most of my field of vision.
Did I enjoy it? Certainly--the film was light-weight high-energy entertainment, and I thought it was one of the best superhero films I'd ever seen. But it didn't convince me that I needed to add regular theatrical screenings to my schedule; I guess I'm one of those homebodies who prefers his own large-screen surround sound experience, which I can start and stop any time I wish, to the whole off-site theatrical thing.
(As for the crowd--with the emphasis on showing movies on a lot of screens at a lot of times during the first week, it seemed that the vast number of people who wanted to see the film already had. There were fewer than 20 people in the theater with us. Nevertheless, two of them were teenage girls who insisted on sitting one row behind us and mindlessly kicking the seats in rhythm with some song playing in their heads--exactly the sort of thing that soured me on the theatrical experience to begin with. At least they quit when I asked them to do so... or else they moved another row or two back, where their seat-kicking wouldn't disturb anyone else, since there were at least eight empty rows between them and the next occupied row behind them.)