Spot of insomnia tonight. Woke up around 2:45 or so, and haven't really wandered back to sleep. Just a few thoughts that have been knocking around in my head:
We've had a theater reopen in my neck of the woods. You can find its website here
. It's only opened here in the past few days (I think Monday was the official first day, but I may be wrong there...) It's been an interesting process watching the renovation of the old Plaza Twin theater. It's now a 5-screen theater without allegiance to Carmike, Regal or any of the other big theater companies. I'll wander in some time soon, probably when something catches my fancy.
I'm rooting for them on a couple of accounts. The first being, it's nice to have a theater where I don't have to drive a half-hour to see a movie on a big screen. That's the simple one. Time being what it is, I don't often have three or four hours to devote to a movie...two hours for a movie, an hour or two for a commute (two, if we've run to Knoxville or Chattanooga).
The second aspect is that I like that the folks who run the theater seem to love movies. At least, the lady who's been running the social media aspect of the theater from its inception (and they've had a Facebook presence for more than a year before it opened) is trying to run a theater and give a theater experience that she's been looking for herself (if I may paraphrase). That's cool.
That said? I stay off the social media pages for the theater. At least, I don't participate in commenting, anymore. Got shouted down on their Facebook page for saying, when the theater folks asked the question, if documentaries or arthouse fare was of any interest. The resounding opinion of the folks on that page was Oh Hell No, with a couple of voices like mine saying "Sure." I like my home town, and I'll defend it, but guys? You all looked like a bunch of raving hillbillies in that moment.
Momentary aside: it's a personal peeve of mine between the big movie houses how rare it is to get some of the indie shit into the theaters. Cleveland, the closest city with theaters prior to this, has something like 18 movie screens, each with an average of 4.5 showings a day. One particular weekend last summer, those 18 screens were split between 7 movies. That's about 80-90 showings....of the same 7 movies. I forget what I was wanting to see (I either went to Knoxville to Downtown West to catch it, or simply waited until it was available streaming or on DVD). A lot of people were quick to blame the booking people from the major distributors, and probably rightfully so. Still, Carmike has no interest in taking a risk, despite being in the best position to do so. It's not about love of movies for the big companies. My hope is that the local theater is more willing to think outside the box, instead of having 19 showings of Paul Blart.
Anyway, back to the raving hillbillies thing. There was a Facebook fan night recently, and while I don't wander into the comments, it did hit my attention that there were complaints about that night. Some were concerned that it was a school night, or a church night (Wednesday, in the buckle of the Bible Belt, y'all), and there were myriad other complaints. Which lead to the Facebook account saying that it was important to be a "good customer."
Here's the thing. I agree with that sentiment, 100%, though the business person in me wonders at the wisdom of publicly mentioning such a thought, let alone chastising your customer base when you've just opened. Still, I'd like to take a minute to remind my neighbors that as much as we all want a theater in Athens? And as much as we've watched the growth and renovation of this business? It's not our theater. These folks invested their own money into renovating a structure that, frankly, I thought should have been condemned in its last days as The Plaza Twin. They've put a shit-ton of money into running the beast. As much as they've invited you in to watch the progress of the renovation, and the process of opening a brand new theater? It's not your theater. Even if you bought the Facebook t-shirt, and have been commenting on everything put on every social media platform. It's not your theater.
I don't know. It's early, and I'm grouchy. But it really bugged me. For the first time in the better part of a decade, we have a theater again in Athens. You don't have to drive to Cleveland, or Knoxville, or Chattanooga. You can hit a 7 PM show, and not expect to get home at 10:30 before you get up at 5 the next morning. (Yeah, I'm that guy, by the way). Stop complaining.
If you don't like how they're doing it? Don't go.
If I go, and I don't care for the experience? I'll eventually stop going. But then, all I want when I go see a movie is a cleanish theater, a decent projection, and not to be distracted by the goofball in front of me texting the person they just saw 48 minutes ago.
I love movies. I still love going to the theater. But I'll be the first to tell you: It ain't essential. I've made it the past few years knowing that if I can't see it in the theater, all I have to do is wait a few months for it to pop up on Amazon or Netflix. I can still do that. If what the theater does doesn't suit me? I won't patronize.
My fear is that the sense of entitlement that I'm seeing will burn the folks running the theater out. That was my concern when they started their Facebook interactions. Many will feel, right or wrong, that since they've been following so closely, that they're part of the family. And they'll feel they're entitled.
Now, last couple of thoughts: with this post, I'm likely largely nodding at the lunatic fringe. Because the only voices I'm seeing are the ones from left field, from the same group of folks, I might be making the mistake that they represent the largest view. If politics in this country have taught me anything in the past twenty years, it's that the majority rarely yells the loudest, if only because they have the least amount of time to do so.
And? Like I said. I haven't visited the theater yet. I want to. I'm off this weekend, so maybe something will catch my eye. Of what's playing now? I might enjoy the Kingsman. I've taken the wait until DVD or streaming approach with American Sniper, as much as I tend to appreciate Clint Eastwood's directing. Nothing really jumps out at me, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 isn't really my speed, either. Who knows, though? We'll find something to go watch....
One last thought. Really want to see the renovations. A couple weeks back, my cousin Michelle put up a Trulia page from my grandparents' old house in New Jersey. It was neat wandering through the pictures, seeing what folks had done with that space. Curious in the same way to see what somebody's done with the old theater. Like I said, the last few times I wandered in, it looked like it should have been condemned (I think the last movie I saw there was Ocean's 13, though don't hold me to that). Interested to see what somebody else has done with the building....if it'll even be recognizable. Given that I was afraid the ceiling might cave in on me prior to its closing? I almost hope not....