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Do you enjoy going out to the movies?

By Barry Koltnow, The Orange County Register –

Somewhere in the world, someone is walking out of some theater and saying something like this: “They don’t make movies like they used to.”

This general dissatisfaction with the quality of movies comes in many forms — “Movies are getting dumber” is a popular lament — but the sentiment is the same.

However, I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment.

It is my contention that there were always good movies and bad movies coming out of Hollywood, but the good ones are shown on TV more than the bad ones so we have a distorted view of the quality of old movies. Hollywood has been churning out 300-400 movies a year for 100 years. How many “Casablancas” or “Citizen Kanes” have there been? Isn’t it a fair assumption that earlier generations had their versions of “Battleship” and “Hangover 2”?

But it doesn’t matter how good the movies are if the movie-going experience is not great. I hear as many complaints about movie theaters as I do about movies.

How you watch a movie is as important as the movie you’re watching.

Not everyone can watch movies the ideal way, which is to be invited by a movie studio to a private screening room with perfect sound and picture. Nobody is munching popcorn in front of you, or kicking the back of your seat.

Another way is to watch at home. But unless you’re rich enough to have your own professional screening room, it’s still TV-watching.

Finally, there is the movie theater. This is where most people watch their movies. If people are not going out to watch movies as often as they used to, blame the theaters, not the movies.

I watch plenty of movies in private screening rooms, and I also watch movies at home. But I pay to watch movies in theaters at least once a week. I usually enjoy watching movies in a theater, but I know what I don’t like about the experience as well. I’d like to know what you dislike about going out to the movies. I’ll record your complaints in a future column. Maybe local theater owners will pay attention, and do something about it.

Feel free to borrow any of the 20 most commonly heard complaints listed below, or compile your own list of pet peeves.

Unfortunately, I can do nothing about the quality of movies coming out of Hollywood. Movie studios will continue to baffle us with what they consider entertainment. In the meantime, let’s concentrate on the theaters, and hope that bigger theater audiences will inspire Hollywood to make better movies.

If they assume that only 12-year-old boys are going to the theaters, they won’t bother to offer the best movie experience.

Here are the 20 biggest complaints about movie theaters, which happen to coincide with my 20 biggest complaints about movie theaters:

1. Movie tickets are too expensive — Honestly, ticket pricing is probably out of the control of theater owners.

2. Popcorn is too expensive — Is there a limit to how big those tubs can grow?

3. The commercials are annoying — Theater owners keep trying to convince us that people like them, but I’m not convinced.

4. Cell phone usage is not controlled — Yes, we know you’re popular.

5. Movies are getting louder — Perhaps headphones are the answer?

6. Theaters are too cold — You might consider bringing a sweater.

7. What’s in the fake butter? — I flunked chemistry so I can’t figure it out.

8. Seats are uncomfortable — Vibrating foot rests would be nice.

9. Ban parents from taking their young children to R-rated movies — Yeah, I’m talking to you, lady.

10. Enforce no-talking rules during the movies — I would like to suggest ejection seats.

11. Stop selling hot dogs — They stink up the whole theater.

12. Don’t allow the unwrapping of hard candy — And that includes my own mother.

13. Clean the sticky floors — It’s disgusting.

14. Tell us the actual starting time of the feature presentation — Some people need to time their bathroom breaks.

15. Don’t allow seating after the feature begins — Fashionably late is obnoxious at the movies.

16. If you’re going to insist on building multiplexes, make them more soundproof so that the sound from action movies doesn’t bleed into the drama next door — Meryl Streep doesn’t come with a soundtrack.

17. Stop charging extra for 3-D and calling it “event pricing” — You might as well call it “price gouging.”

18. Better candy selections — What do the AMC and Regal theater chains have against Goobers?

19. The ban on outside food should be enforced — The theater doesn’t like it because it cuts into their overpriced concessions, but I hate it because of the noise.

20. Stop reminding us that for an extra 50 cents, we can a much bigger tub of popcorn — Can’t you see that we’re fat enough?

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