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Civil War and Movie Theaters

The McClary-Piziks household went to see CIVIL WAR last weekend.  It was everything BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN was supposed to be but wasn't.  It handled a huge cast of characters stunning well, and the fight between opposing sides was organic and inevitable.  The final battle between Captain America and Iron Man had to happen, and it was a fine thing for a writer to watch (unlike BvS, in which you could see the writers labor to force both sides to fight in ways that made little sense).  I want to see it again.

But that's not what I really want to comment on.  I want to comment on the theaters.

Let's face it--when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, movie theaters were pretty crappy.  They were built like middle school auditoriums, with narrow aisles, uncomfortable seats that flipped up and whacked your thighs whenever you stood up, and lobbies that were basically holding pens for patrons who were treated like cattle.  And the food?  Bleah!  Stale popcorn, baldy-mixed soda, and old chocolate. That was about it. I had read about movie theaters from the 20s and 30s that were lush palaces of gilt and velvet, with ushers that guided you around, and polite concessioners who brought food to your seat, and I wondered what it would be like to go to a movie that was an event instead of a trip to the grocery store.

Well, now I know.

Today's movie theaters . . . oh, how I love today's movie theaters.  Shall we begin with the seats?  They're tall enough to support your back and even your neck.  They stay permanently down so they don't smack you or make that annoying flip-flip noise whenever someone stands up.  They have cup holders in the arms, and said arms will even fold upward so you can make a loveseat or a couch with your sweetie, if you want.  The cushions are comfortable. Someone finally realized that stadium seating wasn't just for stadiums, and they applied it to movie theaters, so all the seats are good; you can still see even if a 6'4" linebacker sits in front of you.

The lobby has gotten a complete makeover.  It's bright and welcoming.  Sweeping displays of upcoming movies let you know what's coming up, some of which run videos.  An arcade will entertain you if you arrive too early.  Concession stands and even little restaurants serve a variety of foods, from hot dogs and nachos and pizza to ice cream to cookies to the old standby, popcorn, and a side table offers a variety of flavored salt.  The soda machines have become self-serve, but they're all you can drink now (and when you pay a thousand dollars for a soda, we want to drink a LOT), and they have the super-cool machine that lets you mix your own soda flavor on the spot.  Or make yourself a frozen flavored Coke.  The whole thing says, "We love having you spend money here!  Please come back!"

When we took our seats for CIVIL WAR, the theater had a festive air to it.  It was like attending a large party, really.  Everyone was in a good mood, and laughing and talking, but they all quickly quieted under some good-natured shushing when the movie began.  There were shouts and cries in all the right places, and appreciative applause during Winter Soldier's motorcylcle trick.  (You'll know when you see it.)

Yes, the theaters have come a long, long way, and I'm happy to see it.


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