Friday, May 14, 2010

Mr. 3000

Stan Ross, the fictional retired baseball player played by Bernie Mac in Mr. 3000, is famous for having collected exactly 3,000 hits in his major league career.

I'm not as well known as his character is supposed to be, but I'm now locally "famous" for a different reason -- I have seen exactly 3,000 movies.

That's right, I pulled that gimmick. I saved Mr. 3000 as the 3,000th movie I've ever seen, a milestone I reached last night.

Like it should be to collect 3,000 hits in a major league career -- only 27 major leaguers have ever done it -- it was a struggle for me to notch my 3,000th movie. I paused it several times to take short naps during the third act, not because the movie was bad (I actually quite liked it), but because it was after 11 p.m., and I start work at 7 a.m. every day.

But I did it. And I stand proud before you this morning.

The parallel with major league baseball extends further. Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader, was just about a month past his 37th birthday when he collected his 3,000th hit. Me, I'm about five months shy of my 37th. Granted, Rose was collecting his hits in a much more condensed period of time than I was watching my movies. But it also didn't take him two hours to collect a hit -- in fact, he might collect three hits in two hours.

It seems like only yesterday that I was planning out which movie would be my 2,000th. In fact, it was September 16, 2005, nearly five years ago. At the time, the movie I was most embarrassed about never having seen was Casablanca. So I chose Casablanca as my 2,000th movie. (And am ashamed to say I didn't see what all the fuss was about. How can I call myself a real film fan?)

The fact that I have now reached 3,000, less than five years later, means that I've been averaging more than 200 movies a year in the time in between. My 1,000th movie? I think it was Payback, starring Mel Gibson. Needless to say, I just let that one happen organically.

Three thousand movies may not seem like a lot to you, especially if you are also a film blogger, and you watch as many movies as I do. But consider this: If you say the average movie has a running time of 1 hour and 42 minutes (a guesstimate that comes from nowhere), that means I've spent 30,600 minutes watching movies. Divide that by 60 and you get 5100 hours. Divide that by 24 and you get 212.5 days. That's right, nearly two-thirds of a year of my life spent watching movies. (Okay, it's closer to 58% of a year, if I'm being all specific with my numbers.) And that's counting all the movies I've seen only one time. You might throw in an extra week or two for second, third, fourth and 12th viewings of my favorite movies.

A couple other stats that may interest you, but probably only interest me: Of those 3,000 movies, I gave 1,946 a thumbs up and 1,054 a thumbs down. I also saw 2,070 for the first time on video, and 930 for the first time in the theater.

How do I even know this was number 3,000?

That's a different story. Since the early 1990s, when I must have been in the 300-400 range of total movies seen, I've been keeping a running list of all the movies I've ever seen. In the years since then, I've had plenty of time to add titles I may have missed, and adjust the totals accordingly. So the current list is as accurate as it can be.

But that doesn't mean it's 100% accurate, and in fact, what films I've included on the list -- or excluded -- are purely a function of my own definition of what constitutes a movie. Some of the movies that I added way back when, I wouldn't have added today, but they're grandfathered in as a a permanent part of the list. As just one example, I include Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou on my list, even though it's only 20 minutes long, significantly under feature length. Would I include it today? I don't know.

In Mr. 3000, Mac's Stan Ross retired with exactly 3,000 hits -- in the middle of a pennant race, no less. So when a computational error in the statistics turns up nine years after he retired, meaning he was given credit for three hits he never actually got, Ross chooses to come out of retirement at age 47, to strap 'em on again and try to prove he can get three more hits.

I'm never going to be subjected to the film equivalent. Even if I did include some movies I wouldn't have included today, and even if I did forget to add some over the years, and even if I did make an adding mistake somewhere along the way, Mr. 3000 will stay in the record books as my 3,000th movie. Even if it was actually my 2,997th or my 3,004th.

And I can certainly live with that.

What will number 4,000 be? Stay tuned ...

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