Excerpt from a 4-way Snapchat conversation I have going with my sisters at all times. Note that two of the sisters are sane and go to bed at reasonable hours, and two of us are not. In this particular conversation, it’s just myself (Jay here!) and my little sister, LittleJ.
LittleJ: Well guys, it’s 4:30am and The Giants game just finished. Does anyone want to skip work and go see a movie with me?
Jay: Yes. Although it’s only 3:46am here. You’re in the future
[There is in fact a solid 1 hour time difference between us but I was obviously 16 minutes late to the party.]
LittleJ: Haha, I usually am.
Jay: The only movies I haven’t seen are IT and Rambo.
LittleJ: Rambo it is!! I read IT when I was like 12 and it has low-key haunted me since. Not because it’s super scary, just a very questionable plot what with the child orgy in a sewer.
Jay: Ha. Well great. I haven’t seen any Rambo movie ever but I always say the best time to start a new franchise is 40 years in.
[I have since done the math and turns out we’re only 37 years in…but still.]
[I actually never say that, but I probably should: I also watched Star Wars for the first time about 40 years in.]
LittleJ: Haha nice. In that case, I feel like we should also watch an Alien and/or Predator. Though I usually prefer my Sylvester Stallone movies to have subtitles because I can barely understand the man.
Jay: Yeah, he’s not remotely understandable. I assume that’s why all his movies are 65-92% training montage.
LittleJ: Very good point.
At which point, my sister presumably fucked off and went to bed. But the thing is: I WISH middle of the night movies were possible. And early morning ones. And mid-afternoon.
When I first met Sean a decade ago, I worked the night shift, and we’d often find ourselves at a matinee with a few senior citizens (who ALWAYS buy the child size popcorn-drink combo!) but I find that those early shows are becoming increasingly rare.
Perhaps the rise of Netflix has made me greedy: movies on demand! When and where you want them. All the time! But it’s also that cinemas have become cineplexes have become multiplexes: it’s a rare theatre that doesn’t have 20 screens or more now. So when I show up at 8:36pm it makes me irrationally irate that I can’t simply waltz into the movie of my choice.
When I was a kid, you could see a movie at 7pm or 9pm. Those were the choices. You had to decide whether to grab dinner before or after. On Tuesdays there would be a special password hidden in the movie listings (we had 3 screens in town at the time) that you’d offer up to the box office in exchange for “cheap night” rates. Are Tuesdays still cheap at the movies? Do theatres even have box offices anymore? I’ve been buying tickets from an app for so long I haven’t noticed – and before that, it was from the ATM-style machines. I guess humans have been out of the equation for longer than I can recall.
But even though with multi-theatre cineplexes there are a lot more start times, they still tend to cluster around good old 7 and 9, which are basically useless to me. I may not work overnight anymore, but I still have the poor sleeping habits of a chronic insomniac. And movie theatres like to be able to close up shop by midnight, I’ve noticed. Which is garbage.
Theatres in this area are doing everything they can to compete with Netflix (in fact, recently at TIFF, the Cineplex chain refused to screen any Netflix or Amazon titles – we had to go elsewhere for those): theatres near us are converting entirely to recliner seating, spacious, comfortable, and clean, and tickets offer reserved seating, so you can show up last-minute and still get the best seat in the house. You can even get booze at the movies now! What will they think of next? Midnight movies, perhaps?
Actually, there used to be midnight movies too. I remember various nerdy boyfriends wanting to line up to see the latest comic book movie first. And so, as a movie typically was released on a Friday, the theatres would show the film at 12:01am and we’d line up late on a Thursday to make sure we got in to see Man of Steel or whatever monstrosity was on offer. But since studios got a whiff of our willingness to do that, they’ve capitalized by making those movies available on Thursdays now, usually as early as 7pm. Which is great, I suppose, to get a jump on your weekend viewing, but it’s really taken the special-ness out of it.
And it’s not like Netflix is totally exempt. Sure they have hundreds or perhaps thousands of titles ready to stream at the touch of a button, but when they’ve got a hot new release, they usually release at 12am San Francisco time (which is where their HQ is located). That’s 3am here, and 8am if you’re in London, and annoying pretty much everywhere. So I suppose the lesson is: I should have gone to bed when my sister did.