Scenes From A Movie Theater

We saw Inception last night. But don’t worry, this post has nothing to do with the movie. There will be no spoilers.

It was a sold-out show. This happens frequently in NYC. People still go to theaters to see movies. Theaters are often full weeks after a film’s release date. I love this about living here. I enjoy a full theater.

So, we all hunker down with our popcorn and buckets of soda readying ourselves for the ride, a great adventure. That’s the thing with great films: if it’s good, time stops entirely. Nothing else matters. The outside world is forgotten. The city falls away. The only thing that matters—the only thing that exists—are the people around you and the world you’re about to enter together. This is why I see films. To exit life for a while.

I even love the coming attractions. They’re appetizers, whetting our appetite in preparation for the upcoming feast. If the production company does it right, the coming attractions become a part of the overall experience.

And last night they did it right.

The first preview drops us off inside the lobby of a busy office building.

The typography reads:

ON ANY ORDINARY DAY

OUR LIVES ARE FILLED

WITH CHANCE ENCOUNTERS

AND RANDOM EVENTS

A man rushes toward the closing doors of an elevator. There are four people inside. Another man interrupts the doors with a slide of his hand. Pleasantries are exchanged.

The screen goes black.

We enter from above, through the air vents of the roof of the same building, down, down, down into one of its elevator shafts.

Type reads:

BUT TODAY

EVERYTHING

HAPPENS

FOR A REASON

Suddenly the elevator starts to shake. The lights flicker. Everyone looks worried. Concern grows. The screen goes black. We hear people shrieking. A woman’s, terrified voice says, “What’s happening?” She gasps. No one knows what’s going on. When the lights come on again, her back is bloody. The woman has been bitten. Or so she says.

Someone suggests they search pockets. Trust falls away. The woman grows increasingly more agitated.

The theater—all of us—are captivated. You could have heard an M&M drop. No one says a word.

More type:

ONE OF THESE FIVE PEOPLE

Sounds boom! Lights flash. Music soars! More loud noise! The woman who is bitten lashes out, “Don’t come near me—any of you!”

IS NOT

WHO THEY APPEAR TO BE.

I look over at Toby with a huge grin, a grin that has come to mean, “I can’t wait to see this movie!”

Screen cuts back and forth between blackness and scenes of people screaming, crawling around terrified. More screams. The music builds. Everyone us is silent. Anticipation. Goosebumps.

I think: I wish we were seeing this film! RIGHT NOW!

FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES

(I’m listening!)

COMES A NEW NIGHTMARE

(OMG YES! YES! NIGHTMARES ARE AWESOME!)

FROM THE MIND OF

M NIGHT SHYAMALAN

It’s as if someone poked a hole in the theater’s collective bubble of anticipation, sending our minds zipping through the aisles like a thousand erratic balloons.

Everyone lets out one long, collective groan. This could not have been planned or choreographed better.

And then, just like someone accidentally farting during sex, the theater erupts in laughter—big, boisterous laughter. The end of the trailer continues, but no one is paying attention.

Nobody cares.

This is why I go see movies.

15 Comments

  1. Hahaha! Awesome. I want to see Inception just to see this trailer now, even though, I’m totally undecided on whether or not I want to see Inception. So, was it worth it? Was it better than the trailer?

    Reply

  2. Both of us really enjoyed Inception. Definitely worth seeing. Plus, hello, LEO! :]

    The whole night rocked. I didn’t even mention the trailer for the Piranha remake!

    Reply

  3. That’s awesome. I love it when theater audiences actually bond like that, if only for a few hours. It’s so much nicer when you feel like you’re among comrades instead of spending the whole movie trying to ignore the annoying people around you.

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  4. That’s AWESOME! And I laughed when I saw his name in the post!

    Reply

  5. I love this. I went to a panel at Sundance where the panelists were discussing ways to keep people going to see movies by re-envisioning the film audience experience: the implications of architecture, stereo sound, 3D immersion, even cafes in the lobby where people could carry on a discussion of the film after it ended.

    But to me, the best part about going to a movie theater is exactly what you described: when everyone in the audience just *gets it*, all at the same time. Laughter, tears; you name it. When a roomful of people all feel the same way about something, and you can hear it, it’s a pretty powerful experience. (Even if it’s just a preview.)

    Reply

  6. Y’all. Someone wrote on twitter and has me realizing that I may have not made something very clear: I can’t STAND M Night. It was like, OH! Maybe a great film! Then, once we saw his name, we all knew exactly what we’d be in store for.

    I don’t think I wrote this very well. I’m out of practice!

    Reply

  7. I would have been one of the ones groaning – sad but true – he jumped the shark pretty early in his career

    Reply

  8. I got right that you didn’t like M.Night. Not out of practice, maybe the people who didn’t get it are a tad slow :) Well written post, I felt like I was in the theater, and now I too am excited to see Inception this Sunday so I can see the trailer :)

    Reply

  9. Don’t worry Michelle, you’re writing was clear and we got it. I feel the same way about his movies. The Sixth Sense was good, but I hated, hated, hated Signs and haven’t seen one of his films since. I thought you were going to say it ended up being a commercial to turn off your cell phone or something!

    Reply

  10. In a million years I would not want to see that movie, M. Night or no. But, yeah, hearing his name means you know what you’re in for, and obviously not many are interested in his brand anymore. Sucks for him.

    Reply

  11. wow, that was soooo funny! i felt like i was right there with you, with gleeful anticipation, then a slow-leak deflation- collective, even!

    what was that m.night movie where the people kept dropping dead, from like the wind or something? it had john lequizamo, and i love him, but it was the single worst movie i have ever seen.

    anyway, this post made my day! thanks for the tears-squirting-i-laughed-so-hard laugh!!

    Reply

  12. michele, this made me burst out laughing. well done.

    Reply

  13. Ah! Thank you! Seeing movies in full-theaters is, hands down, one of the best things about NYC. It’s right up there with being able to find a cup of coffee that will kick-start your face 24 hours a day, and being able to have chocolate ice cream delivered to your apartment at 3am.

    We saw Inception with the same trailer and our theater audience did THE EXACT SAME THING. It was glorious.

    Except, at the end of it, I had to turn to James and admit, “Aww… I *really* wanted to see that. … I almost still do. … I feel dirty.”

    Proof that Trailer Editors should get their own Academy Awards category. ;)

    Reply

    1. Moxie! True! I never thought of that. But that trailer was so well done. Everyone was pretty into it until they put up that name! You’re so right.

      Reply

  14. Just so ya know,
    My coworker had the exact same experience last night. Same movie, same preview, same responses.
    Tho not in NYC. We can fill a theatre in other others parts too. ;)

    Reply

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