Movie Theater Experiences

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Awesome Welles
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:02 am
Location: London

#51 Post by Awesome Welles » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:45 pm

Morbii wrote:
Mr_sausage wrote:Am I alone in my preference for watching movies in empty or near-empty theatres?
For some reason I've long had this desire to be by myself in an empty theater and have made it somewhat of a "goal". The closest I've come is myself and one other person. It's always dissapointing when you think you have it and a bunch of people show up at the very last minute
I don't mind a few people but as near to empty is the preference. People turning up at the last minute always happens to me, not too long ago I went to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and I was alone and sitting pretty. About two minutes before the film went up about twenty people poured in talking.

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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

#52 Post by Barmy » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:47 pm

I just remembered one of my all-time faves:

At a MoMA screening of Visconti's "The Innocent"--during that somewhat lengthy final scene between Giannini and O'Neill--some old geezer in the back shouted "GET A JOB!!!"

Kind of ruined the movie for me, but I couldn't disagree.

MoMA audiences are the best of the worst because they are filled with decrepit seniors who have nothing else to do and are just there because it is "free".

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Kinsayder
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:22 pm
Location: UK

#53 Post by Kinsayder » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:09 pm

FSimeoni wrote:I don't mind a few people but as near to empty is the preference.
I've only had a cinema to myself once, at an evening double bill of Fantasia and another film that I've forgotten. It was in the 80s in a cinema in the Kings Road in Chelsea. The only slightly awkward moment was when the ice cream seller appeared in the interval. I did a very clear mime of "No thank you" but she stood there looking at me expectantly for 10 minutes anyway.

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Magic Hate Ball
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:15 pm
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#54 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:26 pm

I've never been in an entirely empty theater, but my cousin saw Alien a few weeks after it first came out. The theater was entirely empty. Apparently it was the most frightening experience of his life. The closest I've come to an empty theater was a showing of The Host, with one other person.

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Sanjuro
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 1:37 am
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#55 Post by Sanjuro » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:25 pm

I caught John Boorman's The General during it's tiny 3 or 4 day run at Virgin Haymarket in London. I'm still convinced the only people in the UK to have ever seen it are me and the one other chap who was there that day.

I've actually managed quite a few solo screenings. Probably due to living in the middle of nowhere and having a tendency to go to the cinema in the morning.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#56 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:43 pm

Barmy wrote:MoMA audiences are the best of the worst because they are filled with decrepit seniors who have nothing else to do and are just there because it is "free".
And when they fall asleep (they always do) they snore like motorcycles whose mufflers are stuffed up w hot boiled ham.
Kinsayder wrote:
FSimeoni wrote:I don't mind a few people but as near to empty is the preference.
I've only had a cinema to myself once, at an evening double bill of Fantasia and another film that I've forgotten. It was in the 80s in a cinema in the Kings Road in Chelsea. The only slightly awkward moment was when the ice cream seller appeared in the interval. I did a very clear mime of "No thank you" but she stood there looking at me expectantly for 10 minutes anyway.
Sounds like she was looking for you to sell your own uh product.

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chaddoli
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#57 Post by chaddoli » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:44 am

Did you make it to Night of the Hunter Barmy? The audience really had a good time feeling superior to it.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

#58 Post by zedz » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:19 am

chaddoli wrote:Did you make it to Night of the Hunter Barmy? The audience really had a good time feeling superior to it.
Ugh. I've seen Night of the Hunter under those conditions. Normally I'm averse to explaining away bad reactions to films in terms of "they felt uncomfortable with it, it was a defense mechanism", but in this case this seems to be exactly what it was: an inability to handle the extreme shifts in tone that make it such a singular film. It keeps evolving into a different, less typical film, and every turn seemed to be greeted with reflex guffaws by a significant part of the audience who never learnt to distinguish self-consciousness from camp.

As for tiny audiences, can anybody beat zero? I projected Renoir, le patron once to an audience of six, five of whom left after ten minutes. The remaining guy had to leave halfway through to catch a bus (he felt so bad he apologised to the projectionist!), so I watched the end all on my own, across an empty cinema.

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Morbii
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 3:38 am

#59 Post by Morbii » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:11 am

zedz, Zero only counts if the projectionist he apoligized to was you! (which from the first half seems true, but the second half went into 3rd person projectionist territory :o)

Whatever the case, I think I know what you meant, and I think you win.

To start with I was merely saying that I have this "dream" to be the only one in a theater at some point. Not necessarily that I want it (well, I gues I want it because it's a dream :D)

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MichaelB
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#60 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:34 am

Sanjuro wrote:I caught John Boorman's The General during it's tiny 3 or 4 day run at Virgin Haymarket in London. I'm still convinced the only people in the UK to have ever seen it are me and the one other chap who was there that day.
And me, though I think I saw it at what's now the Warner Village on its opening night, so it drew a reasonable crowd (though it certainly wasn't sold out). It's a shame, because I think it would be a great audience film.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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#61 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:04 am

Well the most humiliating experience of emptiness was a coupla years back when I took my Missus to the multiplex in Glasgow Renfrew Street to see a film I was involved with.

We opted for the Friday night 8.30 showing to "guage maximum crowd reaction."
So, twenty minutes in and we're still the only people there. Suddenly the door banged noisily open and a bundled up figure of indeterminate gender collapsed wheezing into the front seats surrounding themselves with a shitload of stuffed plastic carrier bags.
Within ten minutes the sound of snoring wafted over the empty rows to where we had positioned ourselves in our favourite optimum viewing experience position.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#62 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:41 am

Honestly, how can people get so hyped up over cliched action violence in the Prom Night remake? You've got to have a very low surprise threshold to not see what was coming there!

On a related note - could the collective term for a grouping of girls be referred to as a 'squeal'?

I supose the 'Barmy-est' audience reaction I've ever witnessed would have been watching Titanic (the only film I've seen with an even three quarter full audience and where, at 18, I got the frightening realisation that I was probably the oldest member of the audience and likely one of the few members of the male persuasion!) - when William Murdoch shot the innocent Irish chap (fully rounded characterisation there!) a wag in the audience shouted "Shoot another one!".

I don't know whether it was meant as approbation or to be disapproving but I remember thinking it would be prudent to leave quickly and be thankful for the lack of easy access to guns in the country!

(I assume that audience member has over the last decade gone on to become a valued member of our armed police division!)

The funniest reaction I've been witness to was a number of ladies dragging their children out of the Chicken Run screening I attended, appalled at the farmer's line "You little buggers!"

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#63 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:29 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:Well the most humiliating experience of emptiness was a coupla years back when I took my Missus to the multiplex in Glasgow Renfrew Street to see a film I was involved with.

We opted for the Friday night 8.30 showing to "guage maximum crowd reaction."
So, twenty minutes in and we're still the only people there. Suddenly the door banged noisily open and a bundled up figure of indeterminate gender collapsed wheezing into the front seats surrounding themselves with a shitload of stuffed plastic carrier bags.
Within ten minutes the sound of snoring wafted over the empty rows to where we had positioned ourselves in our favourite optimum viewing experience position.
Truly great, self-effacing tale, told with excellent mini-pacing.

And John Boorman's The General blew my doors off when I saw it. Killer frickin film.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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#64 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:52 am

I saw the Aqua Teen movie with a surly-looking frat boy stereotype who never once cracked a smile but sat through the whole thing. I wanted to ask him "so what'd you think" on the way out, but he left as soon as the credits started.

I think there were two or three other people with us when a friend and I saw Fear and Loathing. On opening weekend.

I don't have any really good audience reaction anecdotes, but there was this one wag who shouted "RUMSFELD!" during Mathieu's big torture speech in The Battle of Algiers.

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MichaelB
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#65 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:07 am

colinr0380 wrote:I supose the 'Barmy-est' audience reaction I've ever witnessed would have been watching Titanic (the only film I've seen with an even three quarter full audience and where, at 18, I got the frightening realisation that I was probably the oldest member of the audience
Sadly, you'd have been in single figures during the glory days of the Scala Cinema, the best place I've ever been to for uninhibited audience reactions.

A few examples:

1. A film getting a collective slow handclap for being boring (an obscure low-budget quasi-arty effort called The Comic that probably shouldn't have been screened during one of the Scala's legendary gore-movie all-nighters. The director was supposed to do a Q&A afterwards, but mysteriously disappeared);

2. Wild cheers and applause at the scene where the priest is forced to eat his own recently severed ear in Django (there were countless examples of similar reactions, including the scene where the heroes form an upside-down human pyramid and glide across the water on their toes to defeat the evil water ninjas in Five Element Ninjas);

3. Someone going "Eeergh!" every time there was even the faintest hint of anything sexual (I can't remember the film), which quickly became a collective audience meme;

4. Someone leaping up as though electrified towards the end of a screening of Peter Jackson's Braindead and rushing out of the auditorium with a hand over his mouth. (Wimp);

5. A heartfelt cry of "bastards!" during a zombie all-nighter when the eye-skewering scene from Zombie Flesh Eaters was cut just before the money shot.

Etc.

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Fletch F. Fletch
Big fan of the former president
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:54 pm
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#66 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:15 am

I can remember going to see Lost Highway and at the end of the film when Bill Pullman's character has his final freakout in the car, some guy in front of me yelled, "This is bullshit!" and dragged his girlfriend out of the theater which made me laugh.

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Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
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#67 Post by Steven H » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:37 am

When I saw Glazer's Birth in the theater, I'd say every few minutes I heard someone complain or sigh and then leave. I saw it a second time and I was the only person there. Even though I love the film, I haven't recommended it to many people because of that first experience, and I'm always a little surprised when friends give it high praise because all I think about are people sighing and bitching and then leaving.

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foggy eyes
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:58 am
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#68 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:48 am

I think the last time I was in a completely empty cinema was for Election Vol. 1 (funnily enough, no Johnnie To films have been seen around these parts since).

A few years ago, I drove out through blanket fog to see Stalker at a huge monolithic structure in the middle of North Wales with a 120-seat cinema tucked away in the annals. Only one other person turned up, but the whole experience was sublime (the roads and building were eerily barren, and time slowed almost to a halt). At the same cinema, an old dude insisted on giving his wife (and the rest of us) a deafeningly loud commentary over The Thin Red Line about what it was really like during the war. Nobody could get him to shut up, but after an hour and a half he tired himself out and fell fast asleep.

I also have fond memories of hearing Ken Russell softly snoring his way through Irma Vep last summer.

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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

#69 Post by Barmy » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:43 am

chaddoli wrote:Did you make it to Night of the Hunter Barmy? The audience really had a good time feeling superior to it.
Ha. Yes, the Film Forum audience laughed the whole way through. But I have to admit, the movie is very campy, scenery-chewy and grotesque. It's hard to tell how much of the humor is intentional.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#70 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:46 am

I love quiet cinemas! I haven't been even to the 'local' major cinema for a few years now but fondly remember being one of only three people in the theatre to see X-Men and making up a similar number with a couple watching eXistenZ! You get a better mannered viewer at a Cronenberg film - it was the first screening where I've seen anyone else stay through the credits!

Weirdly the most packed film screening I've ever been to was for Mimic in a Cornish theatre!

I spent three years at the Manchester Metropolitan University getting off the train at Oxford Road and always planned to go to the Cornerhouse Cinema (which couldn't be closer to the station without actually being in the terminal!) but sadly never did manage to find time to catch a film there. So unfortunately most of the theatrical screenings I've been to have been for blockbuster Hollywood films rather than small art-house ones!
MichaelB wrote:4. Someone leaping up as though electrified towards the end of a screening of Peter Jackson's Braindead and rushing out of the auditorium with a hand over his mouth. (Wimp)
I agree, but how did he get to near the end of the film? (If I was going to leave I'd have run when the mother squashed the monkey to a pulp against the bars of its cage!) I should warn people to never do what I did and watch this Oedipal tale with your mother - it lent a whole new uncomfortable dimension to that film!
foggy eyes wrote:At the same cinema, an old dude insisted on giving his wife (and the rest of us) a deafeningly loud commentary over The Thin Red Line about what it was really like during the war. Nobody could get him to shut up, but after an hour and a half he tired himself out and fell fast asleep.
Yes, I think there were a couple of veterans having flashbacks during the screening of Saving Private Ryan I was at!

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Via_Chicago
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:03 pm

#71 Post by Via_Chicago » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:00 pm

Way too many stories to recount...

Walkouts:

In my time running a cinema here in Chicago, the worst have clearly been 80s Godard (I'll never forget the two old ladies who'd had one crotch shot too many in Hail Mary and loudly made their way out of the cinema with only about ten or fifteen minutes left in the film) and Warhol (Tarzan and Jane Regained...Sort Of went from about forty or fifty people to about fifteen by the end). I guess all those hipsters don't quite "get" Warhol like they thought they did. :roll:

Laughter:

Sirk, of course. Although my favorite Sirk story was Imitation of Life. About half the audience thought it was the funniest thing ever, but lo and behold, midway through the movie they all shut up. Not a dry eye in the house at the end, naturally.

More recently (last Tuesday, harhar), audiences laughed their way through Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete. Some of it I can sort of understand, but some of it was just perplexing. Didn't detract from my enjoyment of the picture though.

Yelling:

Honestly, I've been to hundreds of movies here in the last few years, and I've never experienced people yelling back at the screen. Lucky me, I guess.

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Mr Sausage
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#72 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:25 pm

I can't even count the number of times I've had a theatre to myself. I just skip work and go at 11:00 on a Tuesday. Who would actually go to a movie at 11:00 on a Tuesday (besides me)? No one.

I don't have any bad theatre experiences actually. The worst one in recent memory was while watching Casino Royale. The guy beside me liked to sit with his legs splayed as far apart as possible, which meant they were repeatedly pressed against mine, and I can't stand being touched by strange people. Not much of a horror story, but it did irritate me to no end. I considered slapping him across his throat and pushing him out of the chair, but I settled for knocking my knee vigorously against his so he'd get the message.

I've only ever heard a cell phone go off in a theatre once, and that was during Naqoyqatsi, which was boring anyway.

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denti alligator
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#73 Post by denti alligator » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:50 pm

I went to the opera once where people yelled and booed and walked out in droves, slamming doors as they left. It was fantastic! John Cage, of course. Season-ticket holders didn't know what they were getting themselves in to.

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Napier
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:48 am
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#74 Post by Napier » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:50 pm

There was plenty of cheering in the theater when I saw Coffy a couple of years ago.The crowd went wild when Pam unleashed the boobies. =D>

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J Wilson
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#75 Post by J Wilson » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:52 pm

Been to several empty theater screenings as well, the last being CITIZEN KANE where the projectionist didn't have the capability or understanding to frame the film at anything other than 1.85:1. So for the first couple minutes he kept adjusting up and down as he could tell something was wrong, and then gave up. I stayed out of some masochistic pride at being the only person seeing KANE and then asked for a refund afterwards.

Worst experience was seeing GODZILLA (the original) at the Detroit Film Theater, normally a bastion of reasonable viewers. This crowd just wanted to chortle at the dated effects, even laughing during the scene where the mother and small child get killed by Godzilla. The other bad experience was seeing ELIZABETH and sitting near an ancient married couple; the husband was too dense to follow to the plot, so every couple minutes we'd hear "Who's that?" "What's going on?" and so on.

Most amusing reaction was after THE THIN RED LINE, where some teen, probably expecting something with more "hi-octane action," told his friend "That was fuckin' boring!" To which some guy passing by replied "What are you, retarded?"

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