Worst Moviegoing Experience

My list about what not to do during a screening reminded me of one time when all the rules were broken, and resulted in an abysmal night.

The Movie: The Lord Of The Rings, The Fellowship Of The Ring.

The Setting: A summer evening, around 2003.

This all takes place in Red Rocks Ampitheatre, where once a month in the summer, the Denver Film Center shows a popular film. It’s quite an amazing venue; an ampitheater carved into the rock. The acoustics are perfect. I highly recommend going sometime. It’s a wondrous thing to be able to watch a classic movie under the stars surrounded by nature.

However, this was not one of those magical nights.

First off, this was a sold out show. Meaning that there was about ten-thousand people there crowding around the aisles. I’m not a crowd person. Especially not at 7 in the evening when there’s 100-degree heat radiating off of the rocks and cooking everyone in the ampitheatre. We arrived too early.

Because they know that people arrive ungodly early, the event coordinators brought out a band to entertain the crowd. It would have been good if we could hear them. Apparently, they didn’t hook up to the red rocks amps, and thusly, couldn’t be heard beyond the fourth row. The acoustics need something to work with…

Finally, when dusk hit, they changed the stage to accomodate a giant screen. It was almost movie time. So, let’s bring out a boring comedian to amuse the crowd for another half hour. I think he got three laughs. And then he decided to close by reading off a list that he was emailed. Please don’t insult my intelligence. I’ve been using a computer since I could crawl, and I’ve been forwarded your stupid list twenty-six times. And it wasn’t funny the first time!

Oh, there were some good parts during the night. I saw my first cosplayers. Mostly people wearing green coats with furry feet. And of course it was a good movie, despite seeing it for the fortieth time.

But by this time, I started to get uncomfortable, literally. I have a back injury that keeps me from sitting in bleachers withous some form of back support for long without hurting. And Red Rocks is all bleachers. It was hell.

The row behind me were hell too. Somehow, they brought in a suitcase of cheap beer, and had finished half before the movie started. So, the most rational solution to cure thier boredom and ADD was to create an impromptu mosh pit. Way to go douchebags. I think they got thrown out by the second act.

Of course by the second act, we were treated to the most ear-piercing shrill sounds that can only be emitted by fire alarms and teenage girls. Orlando Bloom had the audacity to show his face on the screen. Multiple times no less. And each scream was just as loud as the first. This completely ruined the movie for me by this point. I think I started to cheer for Sauron at this point.

I now have more things to add to my list: Don’t have crappy pre-movie entertainment, uncomfortable seats, drunken mosh pits, or screaming teenage girls at a movie. Or Orlando Bloom.

So, what’s your worst movie experience?

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Thou Shalt NOT…

Okay, I’ve been to my fair share of film screenings. Some were small and just a group of friends in a room. Some were international film festivals. No matter how large the venue is, there’s some things that you should NEVER do, lest you be struck down by the movie gods.

Don’t talk amongst yourselves while the film is playing. It’s incredibly annoying, and insulting to the people around you. If you came to talk, you picked the wrong place. How can you be distracted from a thirty-foot screen? Remember, the person sitting next to you may be the director of the film that you’re ruining.

Don’t look at the time on your phone. If you’re stretched for time, I’m okay for people leaving, and long as they don’t disturb others. Just, don’t use your phone in the theater. It’s incredibly too bright, and literally the entire theater can see you. Use a glow in the dark watch.

Don’t text. Same two reasons as before. You might get shanked in one of the classier theaters.

Don’t leave and come back. Empty your orfices beforehand, but occasionaly you run into the six-hour screening with a bucket of soda. If you must, leave when it’s a lull, and when you come back, stand in the back of the theater until it’s another lull so you can return.

Don’t take screaming children to a screening. I know that there’s a few theaters than ban children under 3 because they can’t be controlled. They really have no reason to be there. Especially if you’re going to a horror festival with nudity, gore, and demons. Unless you like psychiatrists…

Don’t gush at the stars in attendance. You may not go to many festivals with big name stars, but every once in a while you see a local or B-list celebrity. Just be cool, say hi, and don’t be too obnoxious. Don’t run up to them, ask them to autograph your stuff, take pictures, and ask them about their favorite plot hole in their cancelled tv series. They’re here for the same reason: to go see a movie and relax for the evening. Or, they’re making an appearance (AKA working).

Don’t fall asleep. Okay, sometimes you run into a film that is poorly written and edited to an extremely slow pace scored with slow music. It’s like a lullaby. You feel yourself drifting and nodding off. DON’T. Just, don’t.

Don’t leave before the credits are done. Each film that you see is a huge collaboration between dozens or hundreds of people. Some of them are most likely in the audience. Please respect them and stay until all their names are listed.

And there we go, a list of things not to do at an independent film screening. Now go and see some!