Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Again within the Nice Melancholy of the Thirties, folks discovered escape from the unhealthy information of the day by going to the flicks. The truth is, I can’t rely what number of films — Sullivan’s Travels, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Matinee, Cinema Paradiso, simply to call a number of — are about folks going to the flicks for leisure and escape. Folks stood in line and rushed to get their favourite seats; first come, first served. You’re a part of a pair who’re each comfortably making six figures? You’re paying off a school mortgage or making an attempt to make it in your Social Safety advantages? Doesn’t matter. You’re entitled to the very best seat you may wrangle.

Even when theaters started promoting advance reservations, it was nonetheless first come, first served — for those who needed to see a preferred film and also you have been choosy about your seats, you went on-line and tried to order your most well-liked place earlier than any individual else acquired it.

However now, at sure AMC theaters (and maybe, within the close to future, at an increasing number of different film theaters), it won’t be how shortly you declare your seat that can decide the place you sit, however relatively, how a lot you may afford. As of at the moment, in accordance with AMC, a brand new technique known as Sightline will, in accordance with its weirdly promotional web site, “proceed to make films higher.” How? By charging extra for the Most popular Sightline Part (the mid-center rows), much less for the Commonplace Sightline Part (the seats within the again or on the facet), and significantly much less for the Worth Sightline Part (entrance rows).

Okay, so generally it wasn’t that nice making an attempt to look at a film in a neighborhood theater. (From the movie Matinee.) Picture: Common Photos

I can perceive why AMC feels the necessity to do that. Theaters are nonetheless affected by the results of the pandemic, and over the past three years, folks have turn into used to watching films on fairly massive screens within the consolation of their properties.

However the result’s that one of many final really democratic public establishments the place everybody paid the identical and had the identical likelihood to get an excellent seat, will be a part of airplanes, dwell theaters, music venues, and different establishments, the place how a lot you may afford determines how properly you take pleasure in your expertise.

Maybe I’m being too nostalgic right here. It isn’t as if standing in line on a cold, wet night so as to attempt to get an honest seat in a theater was such an uplifting expertise. (Though I keep in mind the primary time I noticed Star Wars in a theater — I acquired there about two hours early, was concerning the tenth particular person in line, and handed the time having a terrific dialog about previous sci-fi movies with the folks round me.) And since theaters have been charging additional charges for reserving seats forward of time, it might be mentioned that they’ve already been on this path for some time — for those who didn’t wish to pay the additional charge, you needed to take what was left.

Years in the past, I used to be visiting London and went to a theater to see a musical. I had seats within the balcony, and through intermission, I tried to go downstairs simply to see what the sight line was like from the orchestra. However once I tried to search out the orchestra part, I spotted that there was no method I might acquire entry — the theater had been constructed at a time when the folks within the low cost seats have been rigorously evaded the sight of those that might afford higher seats. Once I requested one of many ushers how I might get to the costlier part simply to have a look, she stared at me as if I had all of a sudden sprouted an additional head. It simply wasn’t carried out.

Maybe that’s the place we’re headed: film theaters the place individuals who can afford higher seats received’t need to cope with lesser mortals who can’t spend that a lot — not essentially as a result of that’s one thing that we, as viewers members, are asking for however as a result of theaters will attempt something to make up the slack, together with creating a brand new class system for the flicks.

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