Movie Theaters as a Symbol of Movie Culture

Movies used to be synonymous with culture. In its early days, people would dress up for a night on the town and go see a movie as an escape. Even later on, the drive-in experience was something unique to movie-going. It was a combination youth culture and Hollywood colliding in an accessible way. Now, bringing it back to present day, what do we have?

Does movie culture as a place, a haven if you will, still exist? The movie theater itself is constantly becoming bigger and better in an effort to prove its own validity. Not to date myself, but I remember the movie theater that was nearby my house growing up. It wasn’t necessarily a bad theater, but it had stiff seats and always smelled faintly of stale popcorn. Needless to say, going to the movies in that place was a sensory experience. I mean, forget the movie itself which is clearly visual and auditory, but the smells of the theater itself, the feel of pulling your shoes off the sticky floor where some kid probably spilled his drink days ago. I’m not saying they were all good senses, but they evoked something, a kind of nostalgia for “simpler times”.

Of course, the days of that movie theater were left behind when another theater, about the same distance from my house in the other direction, came along. Now this one promised stadium style seating. All these accoutrements were added to sweeten the pot. Don’t think for a second that i didn’t fall for it. I did. I soon abandoned my old theater for the prospects of this new one.

In my time in Ohio, this happened one more time, but we all know it’s a never-ending experience. Movie theaters now cater to a passive movie-viewing experience. Sure, we have 3D which supposedly engages the audience, but as one of those people who literally cannot see 3D, I can’t really attest to that.

However, I can say that I find the culture of movie theaters themselves has diminished significantly even in my lifetime. I understand the constant demand for luxury, but seriously, if you have a recliner in the movie theater, what’s to keep you watching the movie? The movie theater itself has re-defined the movie going experience by catering to the market. The culture, which is a very real element of movie history such as the drive-in, is a thing of the past. While it saddens me to say, movie theater culture as it was will never be the same as it was back then.


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