By Luis Ortega
I made my way through the crowded isles at the cinema, my ten-year-old brother at my side, and made myself as tall as I could in order to see over people’s heads in hopes of finding a few empty seats. I had made it a point to get there at least thirty minutes before the movie started and even then the theatre was packed. I finally spotted two empty seats in a dark corner next to an unkempt older man. The theatre was loud with teenagers hollering over almost every line. The older man next to me did not have the most appealing body odor. If this was the case at the average theater in Queens, New York, which I go to for its proximity and convenience, I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like in the city. In the end, as much as I loved 2012’s The Avengers, I was not a fan of that movie-going experience.
This memory resurfaced as I contemplated purchasing tickets for Age of Ultron. The crowds, the noise, the older men who smell funky, having to hunt for seats: I simply did not want to deal with that all over again. Naturally, I opted for seeing the film a few weeks after its initial release once the hype dies down. Just last week I watched Furious Seven for the second time and the theatre was empty. It was awesome.
Perhaps it’s people like me who kept Age of Ultron from meeting industry expectations. Granted, it had a massive box-office debut with $187.7 million, the second biggest in box-office history. However, this fell short of the projected $220 million and I somewhat feel responsible for it missing its goal.
Obviously I wasn’t the only one who didn’t go see it. A few of my friends who really want to go see the film didn’t line up outside the theatre this weekend for the same reasons. Perhaps it was the very average reviews that didn’t give people as much incentive to watch it. Others told me it was simply too damn expensive. They’re not wrong. Even if it’s for a movie I’m extremely excited about, I cringe at the thought of forking over $15 for a movie ticket and another $10-15 for snacks. One time my uncle paid $5 for a bottle of water. That’s just not cool, man. In very simplistic terms, going to the movies has become way overpriced for people like myself, even if it is for a film like The Avengers. This is why I try to take advantage of matinee prices. Even then, however, that bottle of water is still $5.
All that aside, the timing for the film’s release wasn’t the best. It coincided with the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight this past Saturday. Millions of people gathered for the event. Many paid for it and many found a way to stream it for free. My family gathered to watch the fight, but after the stream was cut short we sat around and played Blackjack until about 3 a.m. Case-in-point, Saturday night was a social event centered on the fight. It was no time for an Avengers night out.
This being said, there is not much that will be competing with Age of Ultron this weekend so it could very well come back with a vengeance as people go watch it for the first time. Heck, some even may go back for a second or third viewing. My $8 matinee ticket will surely be a huge help…in about two weeks.
Taking these things into consideration, the movie-going experience feels, at least to me, like it has changed. When it becomes too much of a hassle to get there in time and find good seats, it’s just no fun. I honestly would have been perfectly satisfied if Age of Ultron had an on-demand option and I had the ability to watch it from home where it’s most convenient. I also have plenty of popcorn to pop and I don’t think any concession stand offers “Manzana” soda, but the bodega down my street does.