I take watching a movie in a cinema seriously. It is one of the few moments in life when I want everything to be perfect. As a moviegoer, I have a simple rubric for a perfect quality time in a movie theater. Aside from a perfect seat, I also want a completely disciplined crowd and that is impossible when watching an animated film.
Most animated films are rated G to accommodate the film’s target audience: KIDS. Bringing kids in a cinema is totally fine. My dad started taking me to the movies when I was around 4. As a 4 year old, I enjoyed and understood “Spider-Man” genuinely. Since then, I have been to the cinemas regularly. My dad only takes me to an action movie, comic book movie, or a comedy entry in a Metro Manila Film Festival every December. As a kid, I was never taken to an animated film.
It was until 2008 when I got the chance to catch an animated film in a cinema. It was my aunt that took me to an opening day of “WALL-E”. I was really excited. We got our tickets early, even before the theaters opened so we can catch the first screening that day. I picked our seats and waited in the lobby. We got in the theater around 10 minutes before the scheduled screening. There were only around 12 people inside when we got in. And when the previews started, lights went off and there were shouting and loud running footsteps. 20 different flashlights are dancing in the screen and some pointed directly to my eyes. IT WAS CHAOS. Different children crying and whining for no particular reason or I don’t know. I cannot remember the previews that day. I was just turning my head on different directions. I don’t understand a single thing that’s happening around me. My seat was like a rocking chair as people behind me keep banging it as they walk in and out of their seat. This kept going even when “WALL-E” started. I only focused on the movie like 20 minutes in. The shouting was minimized but footsteps kept going on. The flashlights didn’t cease. I was going crazy. I didn’t laugh at funny scenes. For the first time, I was a pissed off 9 year old in a cinema. I hated that traumatizing moment that I didn’t go to the cinema until later that year in December for the MMFF.
The next animated film I watched in theaters was “Frozen”. I was pretty excited for that film that time. I didn’t get the chance to see it on opening day so I went on a Sunday afternoon screening. It was a packed theater just like “WALL-E”. I didn’t get my favorite spot since it was already occupied. My only options were an aisle seat two rows from the exit and the one way up above. I picked the one near the exit because I was alone and that seat was five seats away from the next occupied seat. I went in and the previews are on. There are groups of people and kids constantly going out. I guess either they’re headed to grab themselves snacks which they should’ve done before they get in, or for the restrooms which they should’ve also done before coming in. It’s still the previews for god’s sake. With my seat rocking, the loud footsteps, and people walking right in front of me, it was the same nightmare but worse. You’ve watched “Frozen” right? You know what was in that movie: SINGING! A whole lot of singing! What I didn’t know was that most of these people already watched “Frozen”. They were singing along with the musical numbers it was not pleasant at all. Maybe these people are the reason that movie grossed a billion dollars and I don’t care! The whole theater was like a KTV Bar when the “Let it go” part came along. Everybody was singing at the top of their lungs. I just can’t stand that anymore so, for another first time, I walked out of the theater. I didn’t finish the “Frozen” movie that time. After that, I promised myself never to watch another animated movie in the cinemas again… but that was only until the next year.
In the following years, I went to opening days of The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, Minions, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Angry Birds Movie, Zootopia, Finding Dory, Moana, Trolls, and Sing. All the screenings of these animated movies I went to are jam-packed theaters. Every single screening is worse than the last time. I swear. This time, there were more singing, more footsteps, and the flashlights turned into people taking selfies with camera flashes inside the theater.
This year, 2017, the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast premiered. I completely forgot that it was a Disney film and I didn’t realize until I was already in the theater. So far, it was the worst experience. The 1991 Beauty and the Beast is one of my most beloved animated films. It was even in my top ten animated films of all time. (Yeah, I got a list. It will be posted soon.) That masterpiece was so dear to me so the 2017 feature was a big deal for me. I brought my favorite glazed popcorn as a snack and I didn’t bring any soda so I won’t have to go to the restrooms within the 2-hour runtime. Never thought this would turn to be the worst nightmare. I went in early, favorite spot and I have my brother with me who I haven’t been with in a cinema since 2012’s The Avengers. I picked my seat early so I didn’t know that somebody would pick the very next seat next to me. That was not the worst part; the lady who picked the seat had a baby, a grumpy baby that was already crying as they entered. The previews started but, again, I didn’t catch a single trailer because the mother kept flashing a light from her phone to her baby, the floor, my face, the screen, and to the floor again. The lady has two more girls who can, unfortunately, run around and produce louder steps. Apparently, the baby’s slippers fell and they can’t find it since the lights are already out. This kept going on even until the movie started. The light from her phone kept dancing around and all over my face. I didn’t catch the movie until my brother poked me and asked: “Kuya, this scene wasn’t in the animated version!” referring to the extended opening scene. I wanted to reply but there’s no way the next sentence out of my mouth won’t have at least three swear words and I don’t count “Motherfucker” as two words. I tried to focus on the movie but her seat kept on moving. Her baby’s legs are kicking my popcorn, my right armrest was on a 45-degree angle for a reason I didn’t know, plus my brother’s constant poking and asking and talking. This was more than enough for another walk out but this is Beauty and the Beast, so I endured a whole two hours. I came out dry that theater. My brother headed home immediately but I headed to the ticket booth. I bought another ticket for the 3D Beauty and the Beast. This was the first time where I watched a movie twice in a day in the same mall. 30 minutes later, I am in and shockingly, it was a quiet and I was alone in row L. PERFECT! I was on lower deck because my remaining money wasn’t enough for an upper deck seat. It was only then that I completely enjoyed the movie though the 3D didn’t really help. I had Goosebumps on three different parts of the film.
I wish I could complain to the management or any personnel authorized in the theater but I’m not that kind of person and it probably won’t do anything. If I did complain, what could they do? Would they kick 50 people out of the theater just because of my complaint? No! They might even transfer me to the next screen time. I don’t have a book on cinema etiquette or have been told of the rules in theater behavior but a common sense and public discipline will do. I don’t suggest any changes to the rules and regulations in the movies because there isn’t really anything wrong with it. I also have no problem with kids in theaters, I mean I was also a kid in a theater I have never caused any chaos or disturbance and neither did my batch of kids. So, I am now headed out for “The Boss Baby”‘s opening day. I’m not expecting anything. I think I’ve already had my worst.