Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let's All Go to the Lobby

Screenwriter and general funnyman John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey has posted a new screed in which he offers a solution to one of the greatest threats to Western civilization: the decline of the movie theater experience:
Theater attendance down 9% ... what to do, what to do ... how, they wail, how do we get people to go back to the movie theaters? Digital tech, bigger seats -- what?

This sort of clueless shit just reinforces the obvious truth that the people who run movie theater chains don't actually see movies in movie theaters. Because I will tell you right now, right here, how to get people to go back to seeing movies in theaters. Without disruptive technology. Without theater upgrades. All for, oh, $4.65 an hour per screen.

I will now save your industry:

Hire. Fucking. USHERS.
It only gets better from there, and the comments are almost as good. Check out the whole thing.

Not to go off on a rambling, old coot, Grandpa Simpson rant about the good old days -- "the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time..." -- but theater ushers were for decades a vital part of keeping the piece in the movie theater. Armed with nothing more than a flashlight and a determination to keep 16-year-olds out of Basic Instinct, these red velvet warriors walked the thin carpeted line between the pleasant theater experience of yesteryear and the "Lord of the Flies"-themed camps for criminally retarded man-children that we suffer through today.

So let me echo the words of John Rogers, in a voice louder than any mid-movie cell phone call: "Hire. Fucking. USHERS."

And while you're at it, bring back the old "Let's All Go to the Lobby" concessions song. Malibu Stacy loves that.

9 comments:

InanimateCarbonRod said...

Amen. I love, love, love seeing movies. I love, love, love wathcing them in movie theaters.

But I never go. I blame most of it on the kid, but before he came along I had already been reduced to seeing films their fourth week of release at noon on Sunday. Why? Because there weren't any people in the theater with me. I don't have a problem with a crowded theater if people would behave themeselves. And it only takes one person in a theater of 200 to completely ruin it. Watching films -- especially in a theater -- is a completely immersive experience. Once the journey to Mordor has been interrupted by someone chatting about so-and-so saying something about their haircut, it becomes difficult to pick up your emotions where they left off.

Otto Man said...

Remember when we saw "Gladiator" and that guy answered his phone and started chatting about nothing? Loudly, so he could be heard over the movie?

Remember that guy who screamed "GET OFF THE FUCKING PHONE!"? Well, I'm sorry I didn't tell you to cover your ears before I said that.

teh l4m3 said...

NO JOKE! I miss watching movies in Japan, where everyone was so respectful and well-behaved. Same holds true, I've heard, for Parisians in their filmhouses.

Then again, ushers would be at a complete loss in San Francisco, where, while people are mostly good viewers (outside of Stonestown and AMC, that is), if a movie is bad, you're supposed to hiss and heckle it MST3K style.

Thrillhous said...

Man, talk about saying what we're all feeling. Rogers (and his commenters) perfectly describe the problem, and I bet his solution really would go a long way to curing the problem (I love the "thin red carpet" line, Otto).

iRod, you describe my movie strategy exactly. If it's not a special effects movie, I wait for the video. If it absolutely must be seen in a theater, I wait til I think no one else will be there.

In fact, the number one reason I hate George Lucas is because I took an afternoon off so I could watch episode 1 in peace. Little did I know that the most unpleasant part of the experience would be what was on the big screen.

Mr Furious said...

I was always partial to the "Snack Bar Canyon" at the Drive-In...

How about a scrambler so nobody's phone works in the theater?

Malibu Stacy said...

I swear to God, this video just made my day.

I would love to see the movie theaters get better...Otto Man has put my life in jeopardy one too many times trying to get people to shut the hell up in the theater :)

Otto Man said...

How about a scrambler so nobody's phone works in the theater?

I've thought about that, but I'd also like to see snipers in the balcony armed with tranq. guns to take out the yappers.

Otto Man has put my life in jeopardy one too many times trying to get people to shut the hell up in the theater :)

Here's the story: Four kids sitting two rows in front of us, sprawled out across a row with spaces in between. (Because only homos sit next to each other, you know?) The talking and giggling was bad enough, but then one of them stood up -- in the middle of the goddamn movie -- to lean over and take a picture of his sleeping friend with his cell phone camera. He then leaned back and examined the picture, still standing up in front of us, and decided to go in for a second shot. At which point I said "SIT DOWN!" He did, but Malibu Stacy thought we were going to get shot.

See, we need ushers not just to restore order at the movies, but to save my marriage.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

>How about a scrambler so nobody's phone works in the theater?

Every time someone brings up this suggestion, someone brings up, "Well what if a heart surgeon is in the audience and he's on call and may have to go in to save a life?" For some reason the conversation always ends there. I'm waiting for the person who asks, "If he's on call and may have to go into work at a moment's notice, what the hell is he doing at a movie theater?"

Otto Man said...

I'm waiting for the person who asks, "If he's on call and may have to go into work at a moment's notice, what the hell is he doing at a movie theater?"

I think you'd get some variation of this answer.