seen @ AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, New York NY
I wish I could say that I'm never gonna see a movie in an AMC theater again. That's probably not very likely, unfortunately - circumstances will inevitably get in the way of that, such as going to a movie with friends, or going to a movie in a smaller city or town outside of New York, where the options are limited. As satisfying as it would be to just say screw AMC and avoid it like the plague from now on, they've become too ubiquitous for that, and to be honest, there will probably be other occasions where they'll be the only theater in town where I can see a movie like The Fighter.
This particular AMC - the one at Lincoln Square - is a relatively recent one. It opened sometime between 1990 and 1996, because I used to go to high school in the area and I graduated in 1990. Plus, one of the first movies I saw there was Star Trek: First Contact, and that came out in 1996. Back in the day, whenever we wanted to go to a movie after school, we'd usually head further uptown to the AMC on West 84th Street. When the Lincoln Square opened, I remember being a bit envious that it opened after I graduated.
The theater itself is quite stunning. It attempts to evoke the grandeur of an old style movie palace, with gigantic murals of old movie stars in the cavernous main lobby as you head up the escalators. Upstairs, there's the secondary lobby with the concession stand and the auditorium entrances all around. The auditoriums have different names, and the facades to the entrances are done up in fancy, elaborate designs inspired by places around the world, like Egypt and China and Rome, which is very cool. The regular auditoriums don't have stadium seating, but there is an IMAX auditorium that does (I saw Beowulf and I Am Legend in that one). Tron: Legacy will play there, although I'm no longer sure I want to see it that badly in IMAX, or even at all (the early reviews don't look promising). So that's the good stuff about the theater.
The bad? Well, let's start with the $13 admission, although in all fairness, AMC is far from the only theater chain charging that much - and they do offer a $6 matinee for all shows before noon, if you're willing to go that early. Then let's move on to the concession stand. When I got to the theater yesterday, I was in a bit of a rush and I hadn't eaten, so I knew I wanted something, though I was not about to pay $7.75 for a large popcorn. (The smaller sizes are so small they're not worth it; as far as I'm concerned, one should get either a large popcorn or nothing.) The sign said there were two sizes of candy; one large and one small. The large was $4.25. I looked around and saw the usual assortment of movie candy, but I couldn't tell for certain which was considered "large" and "small." I decided to pick up a bag of Reese's Pieces. It fit comfortably inside the palm of my hand, yet it was considered "large." When the guy behind the counter told me this with a straight face, I knew right away it wasn't worth paying for. I left it on the counter and headed for the auditorium...
...where I had to sit through one of those annoying pre-movie entertainment shows, featuring movies I had no interest in - though again, AMC is not the only theater chain that does this. But here's the worst part: I had to endure twenty minutes worth of commercials and trailers before the actual movie started! I enjoy trailers as much as the next guy, but there were something like seven trailers in front of The Fighter, most of them for dumb-looking fantasy/sci-fi movies (another Nick Cage fantasy movie where he's wearing a bad wig? Really?). I almost feel like I was the victim of false advertising, since my movie did not start at the time printed on my ticket, but a full twenty minutes afterwards.
I realize the theaters have to make their money somehow. I realize Hollywood actors' salaries are ridiculous and movie budgets are nine figures now and that money has to come from somewhere. I understand that. But at what point does it all become too much? I'm almost willing to overlook the high ticket and concession prices, since there's a way around the former (the matinee) and you don't have to pay for the latter (sneak food inside!) - but there's no excuse for starting a movie twenty minutes after the scheduled start time when there are no technical problems with the projector or anything like that. It's dishonest and it's unfair to people like me who make the effort to show up on time.
If you still have local, neighborhood theaters in your area, support them! Like I said, the Lincoln Square is currently the only place The Fighter is playing and I really wanted to see it, but if you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that I don't just go to the big chain theaters, and if it means waiting a few more weeks before a movie comes to a smaller theater, like the Kew Gardens Cinemas, then I'll do it. Not only does it mean saving a few bucks, but it means keeping these places in business and providing a saner alternative to the chains.
As for The Fighter itself, it was awesome. It might be Christian Bale's best performance, which will hopefully get him the Supporting Actor Oscar. And ohmygod, Amy Adams is HOT. Not only is she HOT, she gets to kick a little ass in this movie, which was twice as amazing.