Over the past two weeks, I’ve been invited to attend two early film screenings. The first was for Ready Player One and the second was for A Quiet Place, and while both movies were very good (A Quiet Place is absolutely fantastic, review coming soon), my experience at each screening could not have been more different.
Let’s take a look at the similarities first. Both times, I had the opportunity to bring a guest. I chose my girlfriend, Alissa. Both times, the movie was very good. End similarities.
Now for the differences.
Ready Player One was Alissa’s first early screening, and it set a very high bar. We were invited to attend the newly constructed Showplace ICON Theatre at Seaport. When we got arrived at the theater, we were greeted warmly by the screening coordinator, (who knew me by sight, I might add, a fact which had nothing to do with the Boston College hockey sweater I was wearing, and everything to do with my enormous fame as an acclaimed film critic). She handed us our tickets and directed us to the concessions counter. Here, we were both given free drinks (unheard of at a movie theater) and a bowl of an actual chef’s new creation—sticky bun popcorn. It was delicious. When the movie began, I realized that everyone in the theater (mostly composed of film critics tied to various publications) was the kind of person that you wanted to watch a movie with. Everybody was quiet, they didn’t pull out their phones, and they didn’t clap at the end of the movie (why do people do this? The cast and crew can’t hear you).
But on the other hand. The screening for A Quiet Place was at AMC Boston Common. I like this theater a lot. It has a lot of showrooms, it has great posters of classic movies on the wall, and it shows both big movies and smaller, independent movies. What I didn’t like, however, were a few aspects of the screening itself. None of these things are the fault of the theater, or the people who set up the early screenings for critics (and some fans). No, this was only the fault of people in the theater who do not understand how to watch a movie. Especially a movie like this. As the name might suggest, A Quiet Place is a very quiet movie. The characters hardly ever talk, so most of the sound comes from background noise in the movie. The patter of feet, the rustle of wind through trees, and other such things. So why, why, why would you ever talk in a movie like this? I don’t advocate for talking in movies under almost any circumstances, but there are times when I can see the appeal.
This time is not one of them. While watching this movie, I could hear every noise anyone in the theater made. The crackle of popcorn being eaten. The rustle of candy wrappers. Coughs, sneezes, and throat clears. All of these are semi-permissible. But what drove me insane were the two people sitting directly behind me who “whispered” to each other at every scene in this damn movie. It’s ridiculous. I heard every word they said, and none of it was “what happened?” or “explain this to me.” It was all simply commentary on what was going on in the movie. SHUT UP. This is not the movie to talk through, especially not when everyone around you can hear everything you’re saying. It’s rude, it’s inconsiderate, and it’s annoying. You aren’t so special that your words matter more than everyone else’s enjoyment. I was annoyed by the talking, Alissa was annoyed by the talking, and the people sitting next to me were annoyed by the talking. If A Quiet Place wasn’t such a good movie, this entire experience would have been much harder to enjoy.
Basically, early movie screenings are really fun and really cool. But if you get the opportunity to attend one, don’t ruin it for others.
Featured Image by Wikimedia Commons