What an interesting world we live in that something like going to the movies is worth writing a blog post about. I mean, going to the movies was never really a big deal before, and like so many other things, it was something we took for granted. But, like so many other things, movie theaters throughout the country are starting to open up and show films again. Many studios are making some of their classic films available to show in theaters again, since there isn’t a lot of new stuff coming out yet. So, there are a lot of really great classic films you can go see right now. Locally, Megaplex opened toward the end of June, and my wife suggested I take some time to go see a movie since it has been a while, and things have been stressful. Trying to decide what to see was tough. There were quite a few movies that I have seen dozens and dozens of times, but never on the big screen. So how did I decide? And what was the experience like? Well I am going to tell you.
I picked The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. I know, that might be surprising that I picked that one. I love Lord of the Rings, and I saw Two Towers and Return of the King multiple times in theaters while they were there the first time around. Fellowship came out while I was on my mission, so I missed the theatrical run completely. The first time I saw it was on a DVD on a small TV. This was before HD was really a thing. Since then, I have watched it on Blu ray and 4K digital streaming on much bigger televisions, but it still doesn’t compare to the big screen. So when I thought about going back to the movies, this title was appealing to me.
About a week later, I went back to Megaplex- a different location- and saw Ghostbusters, another classic I have never seen on the big screen-but I have always wanted to. So, since it is the 35th anniversary of the film, and because this version was supposed to have 8 or 9 minutes of bonus footage, it sounded cool, so I went to that one. So now I have been to two different movies in the post COVID19 world. And how was the experience?
Let’s talk about the facilities first. From everything I saw and encountered, it seems like Megaplex is doing everything they can to keep their guests safe. The two locations I attended were the District in South Jordan and Valley Fair in West Valley. Both seemed very clean when I walked in, I could smell the cleaner at the District. Neither was crowded. This will probably change over time and is probably a combination of people not going out as much and there not being anything new in the theater. There were hand sanitizing stations throughout both locations. At the end of all the concession stands, there was an automated dispenser, and just past both ticket podiums there was another station. At the District, there seemed to be a table set up with hand sanitizer outside each auditorium. At Valley Fair, it seemed to be fewer- maybe every other one. Either way, there was plenty to go around.All of the employees were wearing face coverings, and the concession employees were wearing gloves. I was pretty impressed all the way around.
Each film is only being shows maybe once or twice a day. This gives the employees quite a bit of time to thoroughly clean each auditorium, which is good. When I walked into each auditorium, it smelled like it had been cleaned pretty deeply. It was strangely comforting. In addition to fewer show times, they only sell seats on every other row, with a max of 50 people in each theater. There is also a requirement that there are at least three seats between each group. They have their online ticket purchasing set up to account for this. And I totally recommend purchasing online. The ticket then gets emailed to you, and then I added it to my digital wallet on my phone, and they just scan you through instead of needing any kind of a paper ticket.
When I walked into the Valley Fair location, they had a sign saying that face coverings were required. I didn’t notice the same sign when I went to the District, but when I went there it was before the county order requiring face coverings in public, and my trip to Valley Fair was after the order went into effect, so I imagine that is why there was a difference. I don’t know how well they are enforcing it. I wore a mask in, so I don’t know what they would have said if I hadn’t had one. Overall, I felt comfortable going to the theater, and I was excited to do it.
How was the experience, though? This is a little harder to describe. I was very excited to get out of the house, and to be going to see a movie. I know there are a lot of people who don’t want to go out for something as small as a movie- and I get that. I also know there are many that think I shouldn’t go out, and I understand that as well, but I also feel like I try to go out responsibly. And I also believe that if we go out and socially distance and wear face covering, we can open up safely and get to a new normal more quickly. As I was saying, I was very excited to go out and see a movie. I was excited about the popcorn and I was excited for the trailers and for the whole experience.
As I went, though, something was lacking. It was more noticeable at Ghostbusters than Fellowship. I was there in the theater. The lights went down, the movie started, and then it just almost felt right. The problem? The lack of a crowd. Especially for a movie like Ghostbusters. I didn’t realize how much I would miss being with a crowd at a movies. Ghostbusters had been scheduled to have a limited run in theaters before COVID19 hit for the 35th anniversary. So, I thought about what it would have been different if the theater had been packed with long time Ghostbusters fans, it would have been much more enjoyable- laughing together, cheering together, just experiencing it together. Movies in the theater are better experienced in a big crowd. Unfortunately, we can’t do that right now, and I am ion board with that. In the mean time, I will probably go again, and long for the days when we can all be together again and experience these kinds of things together.