The last movie I saw was Jackass 3D, more than two weeks ago. Two weeks before that I saw The Social Network, and two weeks before that I went to Scott Pilgrim Saves the World. For most folks, I know, three movies in six weeks is a brisk pace. My wife, to take one example, doesn’t visit our local UltraPlex three times a year.
But I’m not most folks. I’m a movie junkie. I’m easy money for moviemakers: a loyalty-card-toting, popcorn-buying (no sneaking in of the snacks for me!), not-at-all-demanding consumer of cinematic slush.
The point being: If Hollywood can’t make pictures that lure me to the UltraPlex, it’s an industry in deep trouble.
Ten years ago, when I traded the cozy staff-writer life for freelancing, I understood the tradeoffs: while my raw income would grow, expenses would too (hello, health insurance), and I would wave goodbye to virtually all benefits. In a bid to remind myself why I’d gone freelance to begin with, I decided to create my own benefits – or, put a different way, quantify some of the things I could now enjoy that had been impossible when I worked for somebody else.
High on the list was my newfound ability to see movies the way I like to see ’em: at 12:30 or 1:00 pm in a near-empty weekday theater. Love movies, hate crowds.
(Side note: four or five times a year, I sit in a movie theater absolutely alone, the sole viewer in a 400-seat auditorium. I consider this a treat. My wife thinks I should be locked up. What say you?)
To track this new benny, I began listing the movies I saw and the dates on which I saw them. And so I can state with confidence that since 2001, I’ve visited the movie theater almost exactly once a week on average, and often more (in ’08, I saw 72 flicks).
Both the bar and my brow are low
Here’s something else about my moviegoing habits: I’ll see damn near anything.
Let’s qualify that: no torture porn, no slashers. Rom-coms are a last resort, as is anything with subtitles.
With those exceptions, I am Homer Simpson at the Springfield 14. Give me car crashes. Give me high-school kids on a quest to get laid. Give me superheroes, tired remakes, over-the-hill action ensembles, fart jokes, plucky rescue-pets, plucky sports underdogs, plucky misfit teens, helicopter-to-rooftop-pool stunts, Justin Long, Judd Apatow, Jason Statham, Jason Bourne (especially once his annoying girlfriend drowned – what a relief). Yes, you may even give me Adam Sandler and the many wisecracking (yet unfunny) buddies who rely on him for their annuity.
I’ll see any of ’em. And I’ll pay $10.75 for a popcorn and a lemonade every single time. (I won’t upsize to a Medium, but on the other hand I won’t get annoyed when the counter-kid asks; I realize her boss makes her do that.)
We’ve established, then, that I’m a sucker for movies. And yet very recently, my moviegoing has tailed off by half. What happened?
I’ll answer that in Part 2. Which is, I guess, the sequel.