So What's Your Excuse For Avoiding the Multiplex?

Happy Friday! Everything's terrible: "Perhaps, then, people are staying away from movie theaters not because the economy’s bad, but because movies cost too damn much. And because the movies being shown aren’t particularly good. And because paying an extra $5 for a mediocre film in 3D is a rip-off. And because most households are already paying around $100 a month for cable and movie channels at home, as well as another $9 or more for Netflix or some other service. And because a DVD rental at Redbox costs just a bit over $1. And... well, you get the picture." And let's not forget that scourge known as other moviegoers. [Time]

[Photo: Shutterstock]


  • Christopher says:

    Excuse? Your title implies that it is wrong for people to be staying away. People, myself included, are staying away for all of the REASONS you listed above. Only the rare "event-movie" that has a reasonable chance of not being disappointing is enough to pull me in to deal with all of the above.

    The real question is "What is the excuse the theaters and studios have for not doing more to rectify these issues?"

  • The Winchester says:

    Kinda have to go with almost all of the above. But if I were to pinpoint one thing, I would have to blame it all on Steve Jobs. (Metaphorically)

    The smart phone is the worst invention to the history of cinema. Not only are people watching movies on them and thinking that's an acceptable medium with which to watch them on, but smart phone users' constant need to be checking it to see what else is there to occupy their mind (you know, besides the movie unspooling before them) is downright infuriating.

    Knowing that I'm going to encounter at least 3 jackasses during a single movie whose bright screen will cloud my line of vision, despite the 15 things before the movie telling you to TURN IT OFF, is what keeps me away.

  • SD says:

    I don't mind the cost, I don't mind the 15 minutes of adverts before the film, I don't especially care that most of the films are crap.

    I just got fed up running the gauntlet of whether I would be sitting next to/near someone talking, on their phone or kicking the back of my seat.

    I even tried going to films at weird times to encounter as empty a theatre as possible and it didn't make a difference.

    I love the convenience of Netflix and not having to deal with any of the above. Studios can increase the rental window as much as they want but they won't be getting me back in a cinema any time soon.

    • weetiger3 says:

      I have to agree with The Winchester and SD. It's "other moviegoers" for me. I'm a firm believer that films should be seen the way they were intended to be seen: on the big screen. But it's such a crapshoot as to whether or not one is going to have an enjoyable experience at the theater, regardless of what's on screen. (I do enough research prior to going. If I'm disappointed there, that's another subject altogether). For me it's not even the phones, except for the assholes who allow theirs to ring or even answer them, it's the talkers. People just don't know how to behave in a theater any more. They're too used to sitting in their darkened living rooms. For many people THAT is the norm. It becomes an exercise in logistics for me to choose which movie to see at which theater at what time of day in order to minimize the chances for frustration.

  • It's the phones, and the depths of "rude" encountered.
    That's why when I go to the overpriced movie I bring
    along the CELL-PHONE JAMMER/DISRUPTOR, putting
    out a EM pulse that disrupts most signals.

    If theater chains REALLY wanted to stop the phone
    problem, they would install these kind of jammers, so
    that when the lights went down, the signal disruption
    would go up.
    CELL PHONE DISRUPTOR---works on elevators, cars,
    and small rooms too! Fun to watch the frustration!
    It's a KLINGON thing!

    • rainestorm says:

      I really, really want to believe you're serious... and if you are, where can I get one!

      • Serious. I got mine on eBay ages ago-- the Cell
        Phone Jammers/Disruptors have been on Amazon,
        and I think a Google search will show suppliers as
        well. (I haven't looked lately)

        These are about the size of a cellphone, but have
        three antennae; you should be able to recognize
        them by that.
        There's also a Big One---two of those suckers,
        powered, would probably work for a theater.

        One "game"? Somebody's on their phone in an
        annoying way. Click the jammer on. If/when
        the caller starts to shake the phone like that'll
        help? Click your jammer off. Repeat as needed.
        Just a KLINGON, trying to be helpful.

        • S.T. VanAirsdale says:


        • Aaron says:

          I seriously hope you never get caught with that thing.

          As much as I dislike other people intruding on my film, the reason why no one installs cell phone jammers is because if there's an emergency, your jammer just because a liability.

          Maybe not for your theater, but can you be 100% certain that you're not blocking calls in the theater next to you?

          What if someone chokes on their popcorn or someone's mother died unexpectedly during a film?

          Wouldn't it be nice to know you could stay in contact with people? 30+ years ago we didn't have these things, yes, but we do now. Deal with it.

          Being a merry prankster and having fun at the expense of others may amuse you, but you'd be better off telling them to shut up to their face or getting management involved rather than run the risk of potentially affecting the lives of others.

          • Tarc says:

            Yes, what ever would people do without being connected to a phone line in their pocket 24-7-365? The HORROR! First, the guy said he cicked it on and off. Second, the phone is supposed to be OFF during the entire film. Third, people do not have a right to cell service. If you can't manage your life for two hours without falling apart, then don't GO TO A MOVIE. Seriously.

          • Elmore says:

            "As much as I dislike other people intruding on my film, the reason why no one installs cell phone jammers is because if there's an emergency, your jammer just because a liability."

            Please give an example of the type of emergency that would occur in a theater that couldn't be solved by running into the lobby and asking one of the myriad under-worked theater employees to help you out or direct you to a landline.

            'Maybe not for your theater, but can you be 100% certain that you're not blocking calls in the theater next to you?"

            See previous answer. Also, who cares?

            "What if someone chokes on their popcorn or someone's mother died unexpectedly during a film?"

            For the first scenario, I would suggest the Heimlich Maneuver. And believe it or not, a cell phone neither helps you perform said maneuver, or would be able to signal for EMTs in time to stop a choking victim.

            For your second scenario, unless there's an app that brings dead mothers back to life (iResurrect?), the mother's dead already. Your HTC Evo's not gonna save her.

            "Wouldn't it be nice to know you could stay in contact with people?"

            Not really. Not at all, actually. I actually go to the movies to escape that kind of thing to be honest -- it's weird, I'm usually watching a movie when I'm in the theater, and don't really care about Facebook status updates.

            "30+ years ago we didn't have these things..."

            Congrats, Aaron, you just invalidated your entire argument. And made mine for me.

            "Being a merry prankster and having fun at the expense of others may amuse you, but you'd be better off telling them to shut up to their face..."

            Believe me, if you were ever in a theater with me, I would gladly tell you to shut up. I do it all the time. I don't even do it politely any more. I genuinely enjoy it, actually. It's almost worth it to have some mouth-breathing dropout talking to his stupid friend in the theater just so I can yell at him.

            "... rather than run the risk of potentially affecting the lives of others."

            Oh, you mean like the morons who can't stay off their phones/shut their fat, stupid faces/find a babysitter for their seven kids?

            Sorry, Aaron, even if you had made a remotely compelling argument, I doubt you'd have many supporters here.

  • Capote99 says:

    I have not been avoiding the multiplex -- I go to the movies about once a week (sometimes once every two weeks). I love going to the movies and think watching at home, with all the distractions inherent there, cannot duplicate the experience in the movie theater where everything is completely dark and your attention is focused completely on the screen.

    Well, it's all dark except for the light from that person who is texting on their phone a little way down the row. And it's quiet except for the people having a conversation behind you.

    I really do go to the movies all the time, but the other people in the theater most often what makes it a less than desirable experience.

    And those 3-D glasses are idiotic.

  • Alice says:

    My main reason for avoiding the Multiplex is the rude, often obnoxious people. Most of them chomp their popcorn like PIGS, they rattle the paper on their candy boxes and talk, talk talk. Kicking the seats is another one. Didn't anyone teach them manners? Totally agree with SD and Weetigers!

  • 2Fedup2Go says:

    It's a combination of the things listed in the article. Bottom line, why should I pay the high price to put up with movie theater crap when I can wait six weeks and see the movie at home on my big screen with surround sound?

  • Nick says:

    I'd like to add that the ability to drink alcohol, pause the movie to grab snacks and go to the bathroom without having to hike across the multiplex are more reasons I stay away from theaters.

  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    After last weekend's record-breaking results I'm surprised anybody's asking this question. But no, I did not contribute to said results since the experience is too pricey and the movies are not impressive enough to justify a weekly visit.

  • Jake says:

    Get over yourselves.

    "Boo hoo. People are eating popcorn and candy in movies. It's sooooo distracting!"

    Man, what a bunch of crybabies you all are. The only reason to go to a movie is for the shared experience of watching something together with others. Other people IS the reason to go to the movies. (Along with a big bright screen that shows you all the artistry, amazing sound to get all the effects, and sitting in big comfortable chairs in a climate controlled dark room.) You end up doing something communal. I feel bad for people that prefer to watch every movie alone on their laptops or home theater system. I do watch plenty of movies that way, but the best way to watch a movie is on a Friday night with a big group of people who are all excited to be there. To enjoy the laughs and oohs and aaahs.

    If you hate other people so much, feel free to stay away because... you suck, you bunch of misanthropes.

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      "You suck, you bunch of misanthropes" kind of perfectly encapsulates the dominant undercurrent of contemporary American discourse. Nicely done.

      • j'accuse! says:

        +1, although, Stu, I was going to let my misanthropy flag fly on this one. Unless I go to the art house theaters, the jackass quotient goes way, way up. Maybe I've just been too ensconced in the ivory tower of academia, or maybe I spend too much time hanging out w/ the artistic barista crowd, but Lord, try going to a big multiplex for a mainstream flick and all the stereotypes explode all over you. The fat, loud douches dribbling popcorn butter and soda all over their fat guts while texting and rumpling mylar crisp bags...sigh.

        • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

          I hear you. I occasionally submit to the compounded experience of fat, loud, entitled douches at press screenings, but really I'd rather just pop in a DVD and avoid the scene altogether.

          Depending on the quality of the venue(s), festivals are generally my ideal place to watch movies with a crowd -- not for the cultural bubble so much as the privilege of being around viewers who take moviegoing so seriously that they'll pay a fest-ticket premium and/or travel thousands of miles for the opportunity. They usually, necessarily tend to behave.

          • KevyB says:

            Isn't it a sad commentary that someone thinks going to the movies is a "communal experience", yet watching at home is solitary? Just because YOU can't get somebody to enter your house and watch movies with you, doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

            Otherwise, I have to agree with ALL of the reasons. I do like to support smaller films, and will go see them at one of our local arthouses with a non-moronic audience, but I simply refuse to pay money to see any of the blatant cash grabs that litter our theaters. I will not pay for another superhero movie (except it is done by Christopher Nolan), a sequel (unless it is animated, and NOT Monster's Inc 2 Electric BOO-ga-loo or Madagascar 2: Those Fucking Animals AGAIN), any 3D upcharge, anything based on a toy or a theme park ride, something with less than a 60 on Metacritic, any "reboot", or any rerelease, even if I liked it the first time. And I will see NO wide-release movie in its first weekend, as inflated first-weekend grosses are proving to Hollywood that advertising the movie is more important than the actual movie!

          • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

            Isn't it a sad commentary that someone thinks going to the movies is a "communal experience", yet watching at home is solitary? Just because YOU can't get somebody to enter your house and watch movies with you, doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

            I hear you. Ultimately none of this can be that black-and-white. What about people who go to the movies by themselves? Is two or more people chatting away over a DVD in someone's living room a communal viewing experience or just a variety of socializing? Doesn't much of the fun of moviegoing come from recognizing emotions we have in common with strangers -- fright, laughing, crying, etc.?

          • Tarc says:

            Don't forget the scrawny, entitled, obnoxious douches that are constantly looking down their noses. They're the worst!

      • Baco Noir says:

        Yup, Jake, I guess you told us. Better a misanthrope than a neanderthal (Please note my use of lower case. Apologies to any Neanderthals still amongst us Homosapiens).

        • Jake says:

          Wow. Didn't realize there were so many elitist haters on this site. Sad really. Sorry the unwashed actually enjoy movies in big theaters with nice seats with our fellow man. I could let a couple of douches ruin megaplexes for me, but I prefer to LIKE other people and don't assume I'm better than them.

          Enjoy whatever class you presume to be in. I'll see you at movies at festivals, art houses, and even nice new multiplexes with their amazing facilities. Oh yeah, that's right, I won't see you at multiplexes. Your loss.

          • j'accuse! says:

            This being the internet, I'm still gonna take a stab at reasoned discourse. All hyperbole aside, I don't dislike my fellow man. I just dislike experiencing the disproportionately high percentage of people with bad manners at the multiplexes who ruin my viewing experience. I'm a working class dude, ok? Not some monied elite. All the more reason why, when I plunk down some hard earned coin on a movie ticket, I do so to enjoy the film rather be distracted by the loud, annoying and overall bad behavior of a growing percentage of the people who show up at the multiplex.

          • KevyB says:

            Methinks Jake is the type that races to movies in their first weekend, who talks to friends during the movie and who answers his cellphone or texts. That said, I saw Dragon Tattoo a good month after it was released, sat at least three rows from anybody else, and I STILL heard people talking to each other. It doesn't take a high percentage, J'Accuse, just one within earshot. And there's almost ALWAYS one within earshot.

            Furthermore, several years ago I decided the $500 or so I spent at the movies every year could be far better spent on season tickets for plays, where the people in attendance aren't rude morons and where the percentage of seeing something good is MUCH higher. If you don't have decent theatRE near you, then you can spend the money GOING SOMEWHERE.

  • AS says:

    "And because the movies being shown aren’t particularly good," lol, yeah right.. since when has that ever stopped anyone. In fact, audiences prefer shit films to quality ones. Look no further than the top 10 highest grossing films of 2011.

  • Jennifer says:

    I wouldn't go so far as to call all of you crybabies, but I also love the communal experience of going to the movies. I don't worry about anything else that's going on in my life when I'm sitting in a dark theater. I love that feeling of being transported.

    • Elmore says:

      "I love that feeling of being transported."

      So do I. That's why I get so distracted and taken out of the movie by the chattering idiots that Jake is defending.

  • Andrew says:

    This was my last experience at the multiplex.

    I went to go see The Muppets. They instead sold me a ticket to Alvin & the Chipmunks 3. I complained, because I didn't want my meager box office contribution helping something that I find to be...well, trash...and they just shrugged and told me to go to the correct theater.

    I realized it was pointless because cancelling a ticket and reissuing a ticket for the right theater...a whole 25 seconds of effort (former theatre worker here) was beyond them. So I gave up and let Chipwrecked have my dollars.

    And then, the movie was so gloomy and dingy looking, that the only explanation was that they'd left that 3d dealy on the lens. Sure enough, when I asked what had played in the house before they moved The Muppets in there, it was a 3d flick.

    So that's why I don't go to the multiplex. I love the communal experience. I love sharing good AND bad movies with my fellow moviegoers. But I am not gonna pay money for a substandard viewing experience.

    If I wanna watch a dingily projected blurry out of focus first run movie, I can just as easily pirate it.

  • Jeff says:

    Box office returns have been up every week this year over last (or darn close to every week). I don't quite understand the reason for this article at this point in time other than for everyone to rehash the "I hate cell phones in theaters" comment. (Not that I don't hate cell phones in theaters either, but how many times do we have to have an article telling us about it?)

    Surprise hits like The Grey, Chronicle, The Devil Inside, and The Vow have fueled a box office resurgence this year that proves this article unnecessary at this point in time.

  • MartiniShark says:

    One side aspect that's connected - the immature audience. I rarely see a film opening weekend because the kids ruin the experience (I know I sound like the old man crank). There's just a constant buzz of conversation from the back of the house. I took a group of teens to "Paranormal Activity 3" and the trademark builup of suspense was repeatedly diffused by the cackling and shouting. Problem is this is the result of Hollywood pandering to the youth dollar; they edit a film to garner a PG-13 rating and then the adolescent minds show up.

  • gary says:

    What keeps me out of the theaters is what I call the "pee-parade - going to the concession stand side show." The people that arrive late during the trailers and asking me to MOVE a couple seats down to accommodate their party of 5 after I arrived early to get my seat of choice. The people that talk to the screen as though it's going to change the outcome of the movie somehow.


    So, yes, call me a misanthrope if you will, but the whole movie going "experience" (loosely based of having a good time through escapism) has failed the average-going movie patron.

    I'll wait for the Blu-ray to watch in the privacy of my humble abode without the element of human sloth.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    For MORE than the price of a typical tangible object or digital download you get to bring home NOTHING but the memory of a bad print and a sh*tty audience. Arthouse Theaters are another matter> A communal experience with like minds many times involving beer... Count me in! Also, I can see LIVE theater for what they charge for movies these days.

  • happygolucky says:

    Except for the days when my children were young and no one else volunteered for movie-duty, I have always preferred to spend my money on a play and wait for the DVD (formerly VCR) release of movies. Now I live in the middle of nowhere and live performances are limited but treasured from the local university.

    I also say that Drew McWeeny's piece was good reading.

  • HwoodHills says:

    Congrats to all here for the "Cell" mention.

    I went to a movie in the theater last year and during the PIVOTAL reveal of the entire plot a teenage kid answered his phone and continued to talk for a solid minute.

    When I finally turned to him and said, "Hang up the damn phone!" he looked at me like I was in HIS house on Thanksgiving and said (indignantly), "I'm talkin' to my Mom!" (then dutifully hung up.)

    Swear to God, theater owners/corporations, INSTALL THE JAMMERS!

    There was a LONG time before the year 2000 when "going to a movie" meant NO communication outside of using a payphone before, during, after a film played.

    I used to see 100 movies per year in a theater. Now? Maybe 10 because of cell phones.

    When REDBOX is only $1.20 and Netflix/On-Demand are so much cheaper, why pay $11 per person (plus food, parking, baby-sitter, etc.) to deal with idiots?

    Well said, most above.

    • Hwoodhills says:

      (I realize this makes me sound 80 years old, but it's obvious (based on this comment thread) that I'm not the only one feeling this.)

      When there are other, cheaper, more "consumer preference" options...

  • Jack Warner says:

    1) For starters there is very little worth seeing. Most pictures are mediocre or outright horrible. Usually the question is "How bad is it going to be?", instead of the opposite. Sequels upon sequels and the inevitable superhero of the month flick.

    Horrible formula concocted 'scripts' (I'm looking at you Michael Bay) that may as well have been written by a 12 year old with ADD.

    2) Fellow theatre goers. The dreaded cellphone, people talking through the entire film. This is the main reason why I no longer go to the movies. Things are totally out of control.

  • Dimo says:

    I've been Incommunicado for the past five days, and sadly, I missed out on this exciting discourse. All I can say is that each of you make fine points that I passionately agree with. But the only way I will ever stop going to the movies is when I'm six feet under.

  • Jake says:

    I don't know if anyone has said this one yet. My wife suffers from chronic back pains and at 5'2" can't fit comfortably in a theater seat for two plus hours.

    Other than that, yeah, it's way too expensive. There's a lot of movies I would gladly pay $5 to see, but not $12.

  • stolidog says:

    Since becoming an adult, I've never understood the desire to sit next to a stranger, perhaps an ucky stranger at that, to watch a movie that i could watch at home with my dog on my lap and a vodka tonic in hand.*
    A movie has to be EPIC for me to see it in the movies, and even then only when it's been playing for months so I can avoid the adoring masses.
    *The last time I went to a movie, some hulking blob was standing behind me in line eating a hot dog. No more for me.

    • Tarc says:

      I'm sure a snotty alcoholic that smells of vodka and dog isn't much fun to sit next to, either.

      • Elmore says:


        Dude, we get it: You like to be obnoxious in movie theaters, and don't own a big TV. You don't have to beat us over the head with those things.

  • Tarc says:

    1) Most of the movies just are not worth that much money. Plenty of films that get made aren't worth a penny to me - and I used to go to the movies once a week.
    2) Not allowing people to reuse their own 3D glasses is unforgivable. As is post-production 3D.
    3) Many types of movies that are being made are just as good or even better on my HD TV. Sorry. Pixar and Marvel make it worth while, but comedies and romcoms? Not a chance.
    4) The price of concessions is out of comtrol.
    5) The cellphones/ incessant chatter/ obnoxious people.
    6) The FREEZING theaters (poor temperature control).
    7) The half hour of commercials before the film. Frankly, I just paid a HUGE price to see the movie, and I have to endure commercials at the theater? NO way. I record my TV and watch it commercial-free at home,; why would I want to PAY to see stupid, offensive commercials? It's simply galling.

  • Fidel23 says:

    These comments are HI-LARIOUS!I'd pay 12.00 to meet some of you!