Why I Hate Multiplexes & Love Old Movie Theaters

iStock_000014747193Small.jpgOver the past decade, movie multiplexes have been popping up faster than Dunkin Donuts franchises in my area. Since I am the ultimate movie buff, at first, I was really excited to get the chance to see whatever movie I wanted in a state of the art theater, but I have to say that lately, I am so over it.
If you are like me and can’t stand big crowds, there really isn’t any redeeming feature about one of those multiplexes that thrill me anymore. Here’s my list of multiplex gripes. See if you can relate:
1. When you arrive, the ticket lines are always interminably long. To make matters worse, by the time you get to the cashier, the movie you wanted to see is sold out.
2. The ticket machine line stinks too. If you’ve ordered tickets online and have to pick them up at the machine, that line is super long too.
3. The concession stand lines move at the speed of snail. Either the concession stand workers are being completely underpaid or there is no incentive for them to work faster and efficiently. And are they friendly? Typically they are just disinterested and sometimes, I think they purposely work as slowly as possible so you wind up with the worst seats in the theater.
4. The popcorn is gross. I mean how much salt do you really have to throw into that machine before you realize it’s way too salty?
5. Everything is ridiculously overpriced — including those ripoff “Director’s Hall” seats. You know that ploy – they actually schedule a movie time that allows you to have dinner without having to rush. Yes — those 8pm movies are always more money – and they even have assigned seating which means that if you get there too late, you’ll be staring up at the screen from the third row.
6. You get stuck with terrible seats. If you don’t go to the Director’s Hall theater and hit a regular theater and get there late, you will be subjected to a terrible row or you may have to split up and sit on one side of the theater while your partner or friend fends for themselves.
7. Parents behaving badly. Typically, parents with little kids notoriously bring them to big theaters – which means if you are seeing a family film, the tykes will inevitably stand on the chairs or talk during the movie. Plus, the multiplexes serve as babysitters for parents who still want to see a 10pm film and take their toddlers with them. Gotta love those people.
8. The bathrooms are atrocious. I do not care if they have automatic flushers, sinks that spurt out water if you wave your hand underneath it, Dyson air dryers or automatic paper towel dispensers. If people do not know how to flush the toilet appropriately and wipe the seat clean before they live the stall, they should be ashamed of themselves. And why don’t they have workers coming in to clean every hour on the hour during peak movie times? They do it at New York Sports Club whenever I don’t want them to mop the floor with their toxic and dirty mops. They should just send those people to the multiplex and have them go to town.
9. There are way too many previews. Don’t get me wrong. I love movie trailers. But after watching almost 10 before a film starts, it gets a bit much. Even though a movie might be scheduled for 7:15pm, with all the trailers, it doesn’t start until 7:30 or 7:45pm.
10. People don’t know how to drive. When you leave the movie theater, the parking lot is packed and people drive at the speed of snail too. We were trying to get home to let our puppy out of its crate but we were caught behind someone driving below the speed limit on a starry night without a fleck of snow in the forecast. If the weather conditions are optimal for driving, then put your foot on the gas and drive!
Now that I’ve gotten my multiplex rant out of the way, here’s why I absolutely love going to movies in old theaters. Some of my favorite theaters in Westchester are located in Bronxville, Pelham, Larchmont and Mamaroneck, NY. Kudos to Bowtie Cinemas for saving our old theaters! Here’s why I can’t get enough of them:
1. An old theater has charm and class. And yet, it’s renovated enough so that there are cup holders conveniently located in your seat.
2. No lines. There is never a wait for any movie no matter how small the theater.
3. You get love and kindness at the concession stand. I can’t tell you how many times a concession worker at an old theater convinced us to go with a value pack option at a small theater vs. a multiplex where they’d rather hand you bad popcorn in the container that’s smaller than your kids’ lunch bag.
4. It’s chilly and that’s a good thing. You know the theater will be drafty and that’s good because if you’ve gone to a late movie, you know you won’t fall asleep.
5. Clean bathrooms. The bathrooms, no matter how old they are, are always spotless.
6. Nice staff. The concession stand workers, who sometimes double as the ticket booth clerk and the ticket taker are always super friendly and helpful.
7. You always get the best seat in the house. The theater is hardly ever packed – even for a popular film and you can always find the perfect seat.
8. Old movie theater people are like old friends. People who attend old movie theaters are true movie lovers. They are polite, friendly and typically don’t break the cell phone and talking during a film rules.
9. They even serve coffee Not in the mood for a 36 ounce soda? Old theaters have you covered with Starbucks coffee served in a Keurig machine.
10. Just enough previews. While they show those classic trailers, they don’t over do it.
And here’s the bonus – typically, old theaters are located in a great neighborhood which means that if you want to grab a bite to eat either before or after the film, it’s a cinch to find whatever you want.
Incidentally, the restaurant option plays a huge role in our move going decisions. In fact, last night we drove around for 20 minutes trying to find a decent pizza place and when we were grossed out after a pizza maker sneezed into his hand while putting a calzone in the oven, we went without dinner and inhaled ridiculously salty movie popcorn instead.
So there you have it. When you and your family are planning an outing to see a movie, while everyone zigs and heads to the multiplex why not zag like us? There’s nothing quite like seeing a film at an old drafty movie theater. It’s got class, it’s conveniently located, it’s got charm, it could even be haunted and best of all, the people who work there are friendly, efficient and really want you to have a good time. If that’s not the recipe for a great movie night, then I don’t know what is.