Connecticut Movie Theater Won't Refund Tree of Life Walkouts

Theater owners these days! Doing it for themselves, what what! On the heels of the Alamo Drafthouse banishing an idiot text-messager from its hallowed moviegoing confines comes this gem from Connecticut's art-house Avon Theater, which essentially boils down to the equivalent of those amusement-park signs declaiming, "You must be this tall to ride The Whizbanger," or whatever. Except this is all about The Tree of Life. And, apparently, a few sad viewers' puny tastes.

From the eagle-eyed Twitter account @joesview comes one of this summer's most disturbing sights to date (take that, Hector Hammond):


"[E]xpand your horizons with us"! I thought that was the kind of crap they write in leaflets dropped over Baghdad, not posted in art-house box-office windows in Connecticut. I weep for the future present.

[via @NextProjection, The Awl]


  • Brett says:

    I believe this photo has been inaccurately sourced. Here's the original source:

  • ZebedeeDooDah says:

    But it's not like they're making a special exception in their refund policy because Tree of Life is better or something, they're just warning people to only buy a ticket if they're prepared for a film that might be difficult to watch (in the most pretentious way possible of course).

  • AS says:

    Who the hell wrote this article? "One of this summer’s most disturbing sights to date"? Is that a joke? Thank goodness for this Avon theater! Screw those douche bags who'd rather sit through Fast Five, Thor, Transformers 3, Pirates 4 etc. The Tree of Life is a meaningful artistic film and if people are too dimwitted to handle it than they can go screw themselves. Kudos to the theater manager for having integrity and real balls!

  • Alias says:

    You have a rather befuddling style of commenting. What exactly is your point? As best I can figure you are the kid who is too cool to deal with the art-house hipsters who are so pretentious to look down on the regular citizens who are too square to get T-Malick. Careful with the nosebleeds in such rarified air of snobbery.

  • Thank you. We discovered the photo through a succession of sources, the earliest of which appears to have not credited @joesview appropriately. It's corrected.

  • I wouldn't go so far as to condemn the multiplex hoi polloi (I think one can look forward to _Transformers 3_ and _Tree of Life_ in equal measure), but this post IS sticking up for the Avon's no-refunds policy. The "disturbing" part is that an art-house theater has to persuade its audience in 2011 to "expand [its] horizons." That reads like bad propaganda, and it shouldn't be necessary in the first place.

  • jake says:

    Don't listen to these idiots, ST. I like your commentary. Keep it up.

  • Shane says:

    I manage an independent theater, and I can assure you that today's art-house crowd is not as open-minded as they used to be. We have walkouts for nearly every showing of not-especially-challenging Certified Copy, for example. We get Tree of Life today and I can't wait to see if it replaces Greenberg as my customers' Least Favorite Movie Ever. For what it's worth, I've seen Tree of Life twice now and is one of my all-time favorites.

  • Rock on. You are doing God's work.
    And: Who would walk out of Certified Copy??? I mean, who would even know to see it without first reading or hearing something compelling about it, or being a Kiarostami fan in the first place? It's so... weird.

  • Brandon says:

    Yeah, this kind of hurts on many levels. Primarily the level on which audiences find it "challenging." The sign only reinforces the idea that the movie is artier than it actually is. In terms of plot complication, it's only about as complicated as "Inception" -- the middle half of the movie is all chronological, as far as I can tell, and the parts that bookend it take a little effort to work out, but I mean, this isn't "Primer" or anything.
    The comment from Shane Jenkins about the dumbing down of audiences makes me sad.

  • Wellie says:

    The Avon is sort of a weird theatre. It's not the only art house in the area (there are 2 others within a 10 min drive in either direction showing almost the same lineup every weekend) and of the available "highbrow" theatres it's admission is by far the highest, it's parking availability is the worst, and it's seats are the most uncomfortable. But they use real butter on their popcorn, so for that I give them kudos.
    There always seems to be a tug-of-war at the Avon between really nice, friendly people who make it a place you want to return to (and go out of their way to showcase screenings of oddball crowdpleasers), and super-snotty cineasts who make occasional snide comments when you buy your ticket - which doesn't make this sign surprising to me at all.
    If they want to run their business with a posted no-refunds policy, so be it. But the tone of the sign is unneccessarily pretentious.

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    Thanks, Jake!

  • CiscoMan says:

    It's certainly an interesting line to take. If they wanted to be more pragmatic (and less pretentious), they could've simply said they sell tickets to screenings and cannot guarantee you'll like the movie, but hey, way to stand up for your art, I guess.

  • Ben says:

    No refund policy = totally fair enough.
    This sign = hilariously pretentious assholery.
    What tools. F this theatre.

  • Tommy Marx says:

    I am honestly confused about this whole thing. Since when can you get a refund for a movie you didn't like in the first place? I've seen more movies than I care to remember that I didn't like, but never once did I think about asking for a refund. And I'm an a-hole! If someone pays for a movie they know nothing about, or if it turns out to be less than they had hoped for, deal with it! No one forced you to see it.
    As for "Tree of Life", I can tell you right now, I have absolutely no desire to see it. Not because I think it's bad or anything, I'm just not the audience for it. I won't be seeing "Green Lantern" for the same reason. If I'm not interested in a movie, I'm not going to see it. But anyone that pays to see "Tree of Life" without realizing that is a film that's meant to make espouse a certain philosophy and impression of life and not a sequel to "The Lion King" should be forced to pay twice the ticket price for being so completely uninformed.
    Do these people buy CDs because the covers are shiny?

  • Cameron says:

    Help, I'm surrounded by morons!

  • G says:

    But Brad Pitt's in it! I thought it was a sequel to "Troy!"

  • jerebo says:

    I saw this at the Landmark on Pico, and the audience was the worst. I actually had to leave since they were so rude (talking back to the screen, laughing uncontrollably). How does an L.A. audience go see this film not knowing what to expect?
    This is why we can't have nice things.

  • Bob says:

    Exactly! They probably are getting a lot of Pitt fans in who aren't used to art house films. They want to see Aldo from Inglorious Basterds or John Smith from Mr. and Mrs Smith, dabnabbit! Some of them probably squirmed in their seats while watching Benjamin Button!

  • TN says:

    You are sooo right, Although, I wouldn't blame someone for walking out on Greenberg. And I love Noah Baumbachs toxicness.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    I find this post and its comments to be pretentious and confusing. I demand a refund paid in full with the finest Bourbon available.

  • Jojo says:

    I grew up within about 10 minutes of the Avon... it used to be considered the "Ghetto" theater with the rowdiest audiences, the worst quality movies, etc... but now it's transformed into an art house and has been for quite some time... so it's actually very surprising that people were asking for refunds. They primarily show foreign movies and indies and "interesting" stuff.
    I remember back in the 80s, I saw a horror movie in there and it was like a party, people just walking around, talking, yelling, fighting, and one guy even brought in a boom box and was blasting music during the show. so bizarre. anyway, i'm stoned. have a great nite everyone!

  • Bradley Paul Valentine says:

    Right. I imagine whoever wrote that sign likes Tree of Life and wants the warning not to read like a threat but as an invitation, a dare, know, not act like the theatre is trying to con them out of a ticket.

  • sam says:

    Demanding your money back for a movie just because you didn't like it is the height of douchebaggery. It's like asking for a refund at the ballgame because the ump made a bad call and your team didn't win. If you're not willing to accept the risk that you may not like how the show turns out, stay home.