With some movie theaters cautiously reopening, and after an incredibly frustrating work day, I decided to escape to the cinema this evening. It definitely wasn’t the bustling, thriving celebratory grand reopening I was hoping for, but… Well, here’s my review of the experience:
The theater lobby was a combination of sparse but upbeat employees surrounded by expired standees, scaled-down concession stands, and abundant cleaning smells. It felt as if someone had broken into an abandoned building and discovered how to turn on a few working breakers. I began to feel a little disheartened. COVID-19 has already changed everything about day-to-day life, but now it was threatening to permanently infringe on one of the few places I can go to escape.
I bought some popcorn, was rationed some napkins, a straw and a lid, and headed down the barren hallway into the auditorium.
It was mostly empty—just a few teenagers and me. Not quite the communal experience you typically want at a theater.
Then the lights dimmed and the trailers (without dates) played. I love trailers but these were for movies that had already missed their original releases, again a reminder of the reality I wanted to forget about for awhile. After the trailers, there was a lengthy clip of the President of Megaplex Theatres awkwardly welcoming audiences back and, again, reminding us of the detailed protocols his company is following to protect us. How could I forget?
Finally, after nearly three months of drought, the movie started. And that was it—the shiny floating distributor logos, the larger-than-life images, the seat-shaking surround sounds—I was transported.
The movie wasn’t new, I’ve seen it at least a dozen times. But it worked. No matter how hard the theater kept trying to remind me of the new reality, the cinematic experience worked.
For a few hours I didn’t have to think about the new normal. Covid, protests, politics, social media, work stress, all took a back seat while my mind was creatively recharged and emotionally reinvigorated.
Thank goodness for movies.
After the credits rolled, the lights came up, and I put on my face mask and headed back into wherever we are now, feeling a little more prepared to face this new normal.