Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Opening Night

I don't get out to the theaters much anymore. The convenience and economy of home video makes it easier just to stay home. When I was younger, I would usually go out to matinees when the crowds were light and there were perhaps me and two dozen more people in the theater. Both of these are good ways to go these days when moviegoers have gotten ruder and louder.

However, there is something to be said for going at night when the theaters are packed and you can sense all the human beings around you as you watch the film. Some films I have seen really benefit from a large audience. The "South Park" film was one I saw on opening night with a half dozen of my friends. The vibe in the crowd was clearly that of fans of the show, so it was a positive feeling going in. Once the film started with it's "Beauty & the Beast" parody musical number, everyone in the audience was laughing until their cheeks hurt and were certain that the evening would be memorable, and so it was.

There is another capacity-audience anecdote I have that I'm fond of. I saw "A Time to Kill" in a preview screening a week before it was released. Again, the theater was packed, and next to my aisle seat was a married couple in their early forties. At one point in the film, the defense team discusses the director of the local psychiatric hospital whom the prosecutor will be putting on the stand. Through their conversation, they make him out to be a bit of a sleazeball. Not long after this, the scene in the courtroom begins and the audience gets their first look at him. There is a gasp and scattered laughter throughout the theater as they discover it's actor Anthony Heald, easily recognizable by his double dimpled chin and his role as the sleazeball director of a psychiatric hospital in "Silence of the Lambs"! I was laughing along with the couple next to me and the guy leans over and asks:
Guy: "Is that?"

Me: "Silence of the Lambs?"

Guy: "Yeah!"
And we started laughing all over again. So, I suppose it really comes down to the movie you pick, but the opening night experience still has some merit.

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