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Movies

Why I Stopped Going to Movie Theaters: 7 Cinema Deal-Breakers

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Image credit: Jaime Fernández/Pexels

There’s no doubt about it: watching a film on the big screen in a movie theater provides an objectively better experience than watching on a run-of-the-mill TV without surround sound or 4K. But for me, the cons simply outweigh the pros.

I’ve been to the movie theater six times in the last ten years: Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk, the last two Harry Potter movies, and most recently, Shazam! (check out my review of Shazam!).

While I enjoyed all six of those films, only Shazam! offered an impeccably enjoyable experience; the others were tainted in various ways. It saddens me that movie-going has become so dreadful.

Here’s why I can’t stand movie theaters and why I refuse to go anymore (except when I’m gifted free tickets of course, wink).

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1. Ticket and Concession Prices

These days, a movie ticket costs about $13. If you can go during matinee hours, about $10. In return, you’re getting on average two hours of entertainment. It’s really hard for me to justify paying that kind of price for anything but the most epic cinematic experiences, given that I can pay the same price for a month of Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

And don’t get me started on concession prices. Yes, I know that movie theaters make next to nothing on ticket sales and earn all their profit through concessions, but it’s not my fault their business model is outdated and unfriendly to movie-goers. I simply refuse to pay $10 for a soda and popcorn, thank you very much.

2. Missing Half the Dialogue

Real talk: I watch everything with subtitles on. Yes, even when the film is in English. I hate missing important plot points or the full impact of character moments because I couldn’t hear a particular line or two of dialogue. And subtitles are even more crucial when thick accents are involved.

While I realize that some movie theaters offer screenings with closed captions, they aren’t always available and the showtimes aren’t always practical. And after years of watching stuff with subtitles on, it’s become harder for me to parse dialogue on the cinema soundstage, and it really taints the experience.

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3. Inability to Pause

Pausing during a movie is so clutch. Bathroom breaks are the usual culprit, but it’s nice to watch a flick on Hulu and pause when I need to address a work issue (because I work from home), or to give myself an intermission when a movie is longer than two hours.

I’m aware of apps like RunPee that tell you the best times to run out for a pee, but that’s not good enough for me. If I’m paying $13 to watch a movie, I want to watch the whole movie!

4. Everyone Else

Listed fourth, but probably the biggest reason why I’ve abandoned movie theaters: the other people in the theater are, more often than not, a nuisance.

You’ve got talkers. You’ve got people on their phones. You’ve got loud, lip-smacking chewers. You’ve got crying babies. You’ve got people resting their feet on seatbacks and armrests. You’ve got people leaving and returning to the aisle. Some people actually like this and consider it part of the movie experience, and more power to them if they feel that way. I certainly don’t.

And no, going during off-peak hours doesn’t address the issue. When I went to see Interstellar, it was a matinee viewing six weeks after release. I thought I had it good with a near-empty theater that only had two other viewers—both of them played peanut gallery throughout the film. FML.

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5. Movie Times

I like scheduling my days on my time. Unfortunately, movie playtimes don’t often align with my schedule. The super popular blockbusters may have several viewings per day, but the typical film only has three or four daily slots, at least in the theaters around me. And it’s not like I live in Podunksville—I live right on the edge of a major US city. Timing-wise, on-demand viewing is so much better than hitting up a movie theater.

6. Seating Uncertainty

Finding seats in a movie theater can be such a drag, especially if you’re going as more than a couple. If seating is unassigned, you have to arrive early to claim the good ones. And it’s not like assigned seating solves the issue: the seats you want may already be booked, or you have to pay extra for them.

Not to mention the condition of the seats. Unless a movie theater has been newly renovated, the seats may be uncomfortable or even disgusting. And God forbid you’re stuck behind someone who’s freakishly tall or stuck in the front row where you’ll have to crane your neck for the next two hours.

On the other hand, my couch offers a consistent viewing experience every time.

7. The Commute

One reason why I work from home is that I hate driving to places. I see commuting as a waste of gas and a waste of time. In addition to all the downsides above, going to a movie theater also involves a 40-minute round-trip. There’s a lot I could do with an extra 40 minutes that aren’t lost to driving!

I don’t know. Maybe some of these reasons are stupid, but I’m being honest. I haven’t had a good movie theater experience in years, and it’s gotten to the point where I really have no desire to go. I’ve moved past “hate” and am now squarely in “indifferent” territory.

Let me know if you feel the same, or if you have counterpoints to my reasons, in the comments below!

Joel Lee
Joel is Editor in Chief at WhatNerd. He contributes the occasional article and manages the overall vision of the site. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science and is based in Pennsylvania.
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