Most memorable experience in a movie theater

Phil Carter

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Three experiences stand out in my mind. I'd like to list the original Star Wars films, but the fact is I was too young to remember the experience properly, although I did go to see all of 'em.

1. Seeing "Schindler's List" in a PACKED theater full of Georgia rednecks who were loud and boisterous and rude before the film started. Once it started, I was grimly amused to see that the noise was gradually dying out. When the houselights came up after the film was over, there was absolute dead silence from everyone leaving the theater. It was eerie. Not a word spoken by anyone, even in the lobby and outside the theater.

2. Having acquired my tickets to the midnight showing of "Phantom Menace", I got to the theater at noon to line up. There were already five or six other people there and we introduced ourselves. We settled down to wait till the theater opened, when to our surprise the manager opened up and said "Hey, guys, c'mon in, we've got a special place set up for you." They had, too -- a huge area roped off just for the Star Wars fans. As the day went by and the line grew and grew and grew, we sat and played SW Trivial Pursuit, acted out skits from the film, had pizza delivered to the line, got interviewed by the local radio stations, and would cheer periodically when the theater employees would walk by, asking us if we were ready yet.


When they let us in an hour before the film, you never heard such noise. The theater was packed to the brim with fanatics, most of them being loud and exuberant. I was a bit concerned about seeing a movie in this environment, but I needn't have worried. The second those magical words flashed up on the screen -- "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." -- the entire theater went quiet as a tomb. Wonderfully well-behaved, all of us, except for the scattered cheers and "wow!"s that could be heard here and there. And of course heavy applause at the end.

3. Seeing "Fellowship of the Ring" for the first time. Like with "Phantom Menace", I'd gotten advance tickets for a midnight showing. Got there right after work, at 6 or so, to sit down. These theater employees were a lot less hospitable than the people at the place where I saw "Phantom Menace". They just jerked a thumb and said "Over there". I was the first in line, but several more people followed not long after that. We passed the time discussing book vs. movie stuff, the bits we'd seen on fansites like TORN and so on. As with the "Phantom Menace" crowd, everybody was plenty noisy before the film started, but dead quiet once things got rolling.

What I remember most of all from that viewing, though, was the overwhelming happiness I got from seeing my all-time favorite tale finally come to life on the big screen. When we looked into the Shire proper for the first time, I just felt a lump rise in my throat. I had chills down my spine during the confrontation with the Balrog. The beauty of Rivendell, the awesome grandeur of the Dwarrowdelf, Boromir's valiant death -- I had never seen a film this epic in scope before, and my heart just sang within me.

The experience was repeated a year later with "The Two Towers", of course, but the first time was something special.

Of course, when I go to see Trilogy Tuesday on December 16th, I expect THAT to easily top all of my theatergoing experiences so far. I expect it to be one of the highlights of my life.


cheers,
Phil
 

Cameron Yee

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Return of the Jedi was the only original trilogy film I saw in the theaters and that was the first CRAZY film experience I ever had. My dad went with me and he was pretty impressed by the line and the audience enthusiasm.

My experience with the Phantom Menace was appropriate to how the film turned out. One theater wound up getting the film last minute and I just heard about it word of mouth opening day. By the time the movie started there were probably 50 people total in the theater. No lines, nothing. I think I would have been even more disappointed with the movie if I had waited hours in line, etc.

Finally, I went to see a late night showing of Tank Girl. Apparently there were four reels because the two middle sections got switched. Made a bad movie additionally confusing, but realizing what happened made a forgettable movie less so.
 

MatthewLouwrens

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How did I forget to mention this one.

While it wasn't the first movie I ever saw, the first movie I have any real strong memory of watching was Return Of The Jedi. It was incredible. I remember going out of the theatre during intermission to get an ice-cream, and the queue was huge. The film started again while we were still in the queue, and I ended up watching the speeder-bike chase through the doors of the theatre.
 

Scott Burke

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My most memorable experiences happened on two occasions.

I had gone to see "Money Talks" and "Tales from the Hood". In both theathers someone started smoking pot. I could see the smoke rise up into the theater thanks to the screen. At the "Money Talks" movie someone from the back of the theater yelled "Pass the blunt fool!" In both instances I left the theater only to watch a different movie or recieve my money back.
 

Chris Atkins

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1. Original Star Wars in 1977. Seeing the Star Destroyer.

2. TPM. Sheer spectacle and anticipation.

3. AOTC. Yoda lightsaber duel. Best crowd reaction I have ever seen.

4. Matrix. Sheer shock at discovering the "reality" of the situation.
 

Eric Eash

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i'll agree on the yoda scene. great stuff. as far as my experience, there are so many, mainly a lot of fooling around with some hot girls back in high school. one memory that stands out is when i watched titanic with my girlfriend at the time. the part where leo dicaprio sinks into the sea, the whole theater feel silent and every women in the whole place, we're talking at least 250, starts sobbing uncontrollably. yeah, that might be a sad part, but that moment made me crack up.

eric
 

DeeF

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I've had plenty of awe-inspiring experiences at the movies, so these aren't exceptional.

But at the premiere of Gandhi, at the Ziegfeld Theater in NYC, I waited about 4 hours in line (this was before they figured out the line problem) and finally got in to the show at about 5:30 pm.

It's a long movie, I know, but right during Gandhi's hunger strike, the family sitting next to me (2 teenage kids) broke out their picnic lunch, complete with potato salad, ham sandwiches, soda cans, etc., and they burped and chewed appropriately, as if on cue.
 

Jack Shappa

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Other than the time a drunk idiot tried to fight me at Terminator 2, I'd say when I viewed LOTR:FOTR... It was the oddest thing, a theatre PACKED with people, all absolutely SILENT during the film. It was as if we had all looked forward to this film so much that we didn't want to miss a second of dialogue. It was the politest audience I'd ever seen a movie with, yet you could literally feel the excitement in the air without anyone making a noise.

- Jack
 

Seth--L

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Warning: This post contains PG-13 language

At The Matrix, some random guy kept saying really loudly: "damn that's some sweet shit." Eventually some other guy screamed out: "If you don't shut the fuck up mother fucker, I'm going to come over there and beat the shit out of you." I don't think anyone in the theater wasn't laughing.

I saw LA Confidential in a screening room, and when they called Ed "shotgun Ed" I broke out laughing. Just about everyone sitting in front of me (mostly senior citizens) turned and gave me the evil eye which caused me to laugh even harder
 

Jeremy Anderson

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I have another to add to the list (because I can't go to a theater without SOMETHING bad happening):

Went to see MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS on Tuesday, and during one of the overly long death scenes, I heard hammering. So I look over and there's a guy on a ladder with a hammer repairing part of the theater wall IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN MOVIE! And again, he starts hammering... and everyone in the theater grumbles. Then he hammers again, and this guy screams out "STOP THE F#$KING HAMMERING!" and the carpenter guy screams back "I'm done now!"

I tried to find a manager afterwards to complain, but the employees were hiding like roaches.
 

Greg_R

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Wildest Crown Reaction:
- Karate Kid, when he wins the final fight.
- Rocky IV, when the Russian goes down.
During both instances, people were out of their seats cheering and clapping wildly.
- Star Wars (re-release). A group I was involved in purchased all the tickets to one showing. Watching the movie with 300 of your peers was a blast...

As a kid, I remember watching ET and Empire of the Sun at the Senator theater (Baltimore) and being completely blown away. Not knowing that Arnold was the good terminator in T2 (until the mall scene) was another great moment.

Most shocking:
- A mother bringing in a batch of 6->10 yr. olds to watch South Park the Movie. The people checking IDs at the entrance even warned her what went on in the film (they had a flyer with some of the dialog). Surprisingly it wasn't the 2nd song that caused her to leave... it was 'Blame Canada' (probably the cleanest song in the movie with the exception of 'Up There').
 

Erin C

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Went to see Batman Returns and they showed a trailer for Unforgiven,the moment when you first see Clint's face the audience bursts into cheers and applause. WOW!
 

Rob Willey

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I was in the 4th grade when 2001: A Space Odyssey came out. We went to the local dome theater on a field trip to see it. I'll never forget walking out and seeing the look on 30 ten-year old faces saying, "WTF did we just see??"


Rob
 

Matt Butler

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Had to revive this thread:

1) My sister is in the radio industry and was able to score press tickets to see Star Wars Ep I a week in advance with the film critics and the like. I geeked out and practically cried with excitement. There was polite applause before the show starts and at the end. I was interviewed by TV stations prior to the screening and again afterwards. What added to my geekout was the crowd lined up outside the theater starting the campout for tickets going on sale the next morning. I was practically assaulted walking out. HAHA

The first people in line bought the first ticket and had it sent with a letter in memorandum for one of the Colombine victims family. Apparently the Colombine victim in question was a huge fan and was waiting for Ep I; which of course he never got to see since the attack was a month (?) prior.

2) Ive seen many revivals in theaters (Raiders, Hitchcock marathons etc) but nothing compared to seeing Gone With the Wind at a local old style theater. The Overture and Intermission music played, the curtain lifted. It was incredible!
 

Shad R

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Oct 8, 2001
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Wow, that's cool. I got to see Episode One a few weeks before it came out as well. I was in highschool and Pizza Hut (where I worked) had a tie-in and my boss scored me a pair of tickets. It was at the 16th Street mall in Denver. The energy before the show was incredible.

Pearl Harbor test screening audience. Michael Bay was there to introduce the movie. This was the first time it had ever been shown to an audience, the special effects and music weren't even done yet. They made us sign a waver that we wouldn't talk about it before we went in, and we all had our ID's checked at the door, and they took us into the theater in groups to seat us. There was a whole section blocked off inside the theater, I never did see who ended up sitting there because it was so dark. Crazy experience.
 

Shane D

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star trek 6, at the end when they make the heat seeking torpedo, when kirk llooks up at the screen and clenches his fist and grimaces, FIRE!!. this family of 4 in front of me stood and threw thier fists in the air and yelled YEAH!!!!

i still laugh about it.
 

Andy Sheets

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Originally Posted by Shane D

star trek 6, at the end when they make the heat seeking torpedo, when kirk llooks up at the screen and clenches his fist and grimaces, FIRE!!. this family of 4 in front of me stood and threw thier fists in the air and yelled YEAH!!!!

i still laugh about it.
That's kind of similar to my experience seeing Star Trek 2 in the theater in its first run. When Kirk and Spock remotely brought down Khan's shields and blasted the hell out of his ship, the entire freaking theater erupted with a standing ovation. I'm not exagerrating. That's the only time I've ever witnessed something like that.
 

tron1971

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I remember some when I was younger, two of them before the movie ever started and I will start with those:

1. I remember when Star Wars originally came out, it was playing at the Cinerama, and the lines was so long to buy tickets that it went around the block and intersecting with the line to get in to the movie theater.

2. I remember watching Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade at Waikiki 3, the movie theater completely packed and Indy goes off about how Marcus knows his way around, and knows all of these languages, etc. and the very next scene is Marcus totally out of his element. The whole theater interrupted with laughter.

3. I remember watching Superman 2 at either Waikiki 1 or 2, and the whole movie was a blast, people cheering Superman as he fought the 3 Kryptonian villians. At the movie ends with something that Superman will return in Superman 3 and the whole place breaks into cheers.

4. I think watching all of the Lord of the Rings movie on the big screen was an experience in itself.
 

Henry Gale

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Originally Posted by Rob Willey

I was in the 4th grade when 2001: A Space Odyssey came out.
21 years old and living in Hollywood in April 1968, within days of dropping acid for the first time.

Many others already were tripping and many of them seemed to be in the theater with me.
This particular theater had a stage in front of the screen, with steps leading up to it.
A steady stream of space voyagers were wandering up to the screen, trying to get a better view I guess.
The ushers (yes, there were ushers) would gently lead them back to their seats.

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I also remember a time when I could come to a 6 year old thread like this at HTF and easily check if I had already posted, how many times and then go directly to those posts.
 

Todd Erwin

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Seeing "Apocalypse Now" in 70mm at the CineramaDome in Hollywood (before it was ArcLight) during a special anniversary series for the theater. Got to sit in front of Roger Ebert, who made a few comments about the film to his date while it was playing.
 

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