Over my birthday weekend, I was treated to one of the best gifts I could ask for — tickets to see Terminator 2 on the big screen. Something like this comes around almost as infrequent as the recent solar eclipse — and like the eclipse, we needed special glasses as the viewing was in 3-D!
Now you’re probably asking yourself why would I get excited about a movie that came out, gulp…26 years ago? The reason was not because it’s one of my favorite movies (it is), but because I was too young to see it when it hit theaters back in 1991. I’ve seen it countless times on VHS, DVD, and on television. However, the story lends itself for the big screen so much, that I couldn’t help but smile the whole way through. The movie, incredibly, still holds up so well.
The story isn’t your standard “what happens when you tamper with time travel”, but rather, the effects of technology and the consequences it has on humanity. A pretty philosophical question to ask for a popcorn movie packed with explosions and gunfire. Given Elon Musk’s recent comments concerning AI and our over-reliance on tech, I think the film seems even more relevant now than it did in 1991.
I had brought the film up over the weekend. A movie I worked on premiered at the San Pedro International Film Festival, and to experience it with an audience was incredible. The colors were richer. The score really shined. Watching something I had spent a fair amount of time on shared with a group of strangers was inspiring. Creating a self-contained universe where you want to know more about that world. After the screening, the conversation inevitably shifted to why seeing films in the theater was so important, not only for the film industry, but for society. That’s a pretty bold statement, but I’ll back it up.
The Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro is the definition of Old Hollywood.
There’s something about seeing a film with a set of unknown people that transcends our differences. It’s almost like everyone is on the same playing field experiencing the story. Whether it frightens you, tears your heart out emotionally, or gives you that feeling that anything is possible — that’s what the movie theater experience excels at. Every single individual leaves the room with (hopefully) the same emotion. That feeling is nearly impossible to replicate. Of course you can watch it on your phone or from the comfort of your own couch, but there’s definitely something different when you go to a theater. Right before we left, I found myself looking back at the marquee and the ticket booth and thinking about all the storytelling throughout the years that stuck with me. Smelling the popcorn. The nostalgic glow of the lights.
That being said, I know ticket prices have skyrocketed to the point of ridiculous. Box office tickets have been on a steady downward trend. Total losses in 2017 have reached at least $1 billion. Spending $40–50 for tickets and a popcorn is NOT a bargain when you’re there for less than 3 hours. The good news is sleeper hits are quietly taking a larger percentage of the market.
But I encourage you to wait for a movie you’re looking forward to seeing. Drive to the theater. Hoping you enjoy it and tell me if you’d get that same feeling when you’re heading towards the parking lot as you would if you simply watched it from the comfort of your own home.
Originally published at Shoe Factory Road.