Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Moviegoing Experience - Adrian Charlie ""

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Favorite Moviegoing Experience - Adrian Charlie

 Adrian is a film writer from Victoria, BC. He's new to the film festival circuit and looks forward to attending them on a regular basis. His favorite filmmakers include: Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick and up and comers Jeff Nichols and Derek Cianfrance. When he isn't watching movies he enjoys the pain of watching the Vancouver Canucks torture him for another season.
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The Death of the Movie Lineup
Some of you may remember a time before online reserved seating. Movie lovers had to stand in a line to buy tickets on the day the movie screened. Some theatres sold tickets in advance, yet you still had to line up early if you wanted good seats. How early? Die-hard fans showed up at least an hour early, especially on cheap night (remember those?).  Other films demanded a much longer commitment to obtain tickets and desirable seats.

The anticipated Star Wars prequel, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was a major player in 1999. Fans were so excited for the film that they were paying to see a movie just so they could see the trailer for The Phantom Menace. The stories are true, some fans were happy to watch the trailer and leave the theatre without staying for the film they paid to see.  Fans lined up in major cities for weeks! Fans paid people to save their spot. Can you imagine? Go to work/school for the day, relieve a person of your spot in the Star Wars lineup, then rinse and repeat? Those days are gone baby, gone. These stories must be remembered!

Let’s go back to May 17, 1999, One night before The Phantom Menace midnight screening. My brothers and I spent all year making plans for the midnight screening of The Phantom Menace. For some bizarre reason I did not watch a single frame of the trailerThe only thing I knew about the film going in was the fact that it’s about Darth Vader. The night before the midnight screening in Duncan, BC Canada was an exciting night. We didn’t sleep much that night. We grew up on Star Wars. We had Star Wars: bedding, toys,pajamas, mugs/glasses, a Yoda shampoo bottle and we watched the original trilogy countless times. The game plan? Survey the theatre at 6am. If there’s a line, we get in line. If there’s no line we see if there are people waiting in the parking lot. Deep down we already had our minds made up.

We drove to the theatre at 6am and nobody was in line. Equipped with McDonald’s breakfast and lawn chairs we staked our claim as the first people in line. As suspected there were some other fans parked nearby, they got in line shortly after us. With 18 hours until the movie we had to find ways to pass the time.

Fellow Star Wars fans brought classic time wasters: Gameboys, board games, card games, music and endless chatter about Star Wars. Did I mention the awesome lightsaber fights? That was my first glimpse of Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber. The energy grew with each person who joined the line.

The line was incredibly diverse. We had men and women of all ages and races accounted for. There was no judgment, just a bunch of people who shared the same love for Star Wars. There was a glimpse of this energy for recent films such as: Twilight Breaking Dawn 1+2 and The Hunger Games. Nothing will ever compare to standing in line for 18 hours with a bunch of fellow nerds.

Through the day our mother kept us well supplied with sugar loaded drinks and other junk food. The local radio station stopped by to interview us; they also interviewed our mom who became, “Star Wars Mom.” We had our fifteen minutes of fame.

A major highlight of the day was when the courier person delivered the reels for the film. “It’s right here guys!” We could not take our eyes off the 35mm containers. The theatre owner and his wife would “test” the film early in the day. We saw him walk to the concession stand, grab some drinks, popcorn and candy and hurry off to the theatre. LUCKY GUY!

As the day went by the line grew a lot wider.Latecomers made attempts to jump the line but the ones who braved the line all day quickly addressed them. The final ten minutes leading up to the doors opening felt like an eternity! I’m proud to say I was the first person through the door. I bought my ticket, flashed it to the crowd outside and grabbed our seats.

I smiled from ear to ear as I watched enthusiastic fans fill the theatre. At the time it felt like a major accomplishment. I spent 18 hours in line with my brothers and fellow Star Wars fans. The best part was yet to come! It was a joy to witness people take their seats, take pictures of the event and there was no shortage of people dressed like jedis.

The Phantom Menace was well received by the audience that night. Despite bad reviews, Jar Jar Binks and a wooden performance from Hayden Christensen, everyone had a great time. Was it the movie? The experience of hanging out in line all day? Probably a combination of the two. As the audience cleared the theatre and spilled into the streets, total strangers were giving each other high fives, talking about their favorite moments in the movie and talking about plans to see it again the next day. What happened to those days? Nowadays we all bury our faces into an iPhone and socialize with people who aren’t even there. I miss that human interaction of exchanging quick reviews with complete strangers. If I were to approach someone today; they would later tweet/fb, “Totally weird guy approached me at the movie. #weird #random #creep”

These days we can buy tickets months in advance as well as select our seats. We can show up 5 minutes before the film without a single worry about finding good seats. Yes lineups/scarce seating is still an issue at times, but nothing like it was back in 1999One exception to movie lineups is festival screenings. It’s common to see large lineups for the new Haneke film, strictly because the ticketing system doesn’t permit for assigned seating, etc. Buying tickets online is far easier than physically securing tickets at a theatre, but at what cost? Human interaction is sacrificed at the cost of convenience. I miss those days.

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