Friday, January 20, 2012

$2 popcorn? It must be the end of days!

I sure picked the right day to see Take Shelter.

Because of Martin Luther King Day, my son's first of two trips to daycare this week was on Tuesday instead of Monday. The days he goes to daycare are the days I have some freedom with how to spend my time after work, because my wife doesn't need me to relieve her after a day of parenting duty. I usually use that time to go to the gym, but in the final week before I finalize my 2011 movie rankings, the call to the movie theater was much stronger.

A few days earlier I'd learned that Take Shelter, a movie I'd given up as not being able to see before I finalize my rankings (because it doesn't come to DVD until Valentine's Day), was still playing at exactly one theater in Los Angeles, at exactly one time of the day (5 p.m.). That worked well with my 3:30 release from work, even if I had to drive up to Beverly Hills to see it at the Laemmle Music Hall. So I hatched a plan to go, and my wife endorsed it. She probably would have anyway, but she was especially inclined to do so because I'd had a miserable night's sleep on the couch with a cranky child who could never get into a comfortable sleeping position.

I expected to pay $11 for the ticket and not buy any popcorn, but those plans soon changed when I reached the theater.

I did a double-take when the woman at the ticket window told me how much I owed for the ticket. I thought I'd only heard the last two syllables of the word "eleven," but in fact she'd said "seven." I can't remember the last time I paid only $7 for a movie ticket, even if this probably does qualify as a second run theater. (Take Shelter came out on September 30th, while The Skin I Live In, which is also playing there, came out two weeks later. Midnight in Paris is still playing there even though it's already out on DVD.) I soon learned that this is part of a special Tuesday deal, where tickets are $7 all day, and entered the theater with a spring in my step.

No sooner had I seated myself for the trailers than I felt a hunger in my belly. I hadn't planned to get popcorn, but the $7 ticket made that option seem more palatable. The lobby had been deserted when I walked in, but when I got back out there, there was one person ahead of me in the snack bar line. I worried that his presence would make me miss the start of the movie, but the trailers had only just started, so I stayed.

Thank goodness I did and thank goodness he was there, because I heard the words "special Tuesday deal" pass his lips. I'd been planning on spending $3.50 for a small popcorn, but his words caused me to examine a little placard that sat on the counter, mentioning their Tuesday specials. Even the largest tub of popcorn was a mere two bucks on Tuesday. I think that much popcorn might cost two bucks even if you bought it from the grocery store.

So I got to watch a damn good movie in the theater, with a large popcorn, for less than $10.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did have to shovel six quarters into the parking meter outside to cover the remaining hour before you could park for free. So that did bring the total experience to $10.50, plus the intangible cost of gas.

Still, when was the last time you went to the theater and felt you'd gotten a bargain?

Next thing I know, birds will start flying through the sky in strange formations.


Dawn Grobe said...

I am kind of disturbed you had to pay $1.50 for an hour of parking.

I remember the best movie popcorn I ever had was at the "Dollar" theater in Lynchburg, VA. It was actually $1.50, but the popcorn was crazy expensive. It was totally worth it though.

Don Handsome said...

Special Tuesday Deals are the norm around here where at least three first run theaters offer half off tuesday tickets.

One theater even hands you a bucket of popcorn with the $5 ticket. Its stale as hell but you forget about that as you remember the astronomical typical cost of getting out to a first run theater. Parking is also free! Drinks do cost the normal amount, but I've even seen employees watch a dude (not me) fill up a water bottle from the self serve machine (only on a Tuesday though).

Funny thing is that even these great deals can't fill the theater. Its MORE vacant on a Tuesday than it is any other night of the week, I think.