Do you prefer your movie theaters empty or full?

Darkreport_lHeath Ledger (pictured) was just voted the summer’s best movie villain in a Moviefone poll, which immediately caught my attention, because I finally saw The Dark Knight last weekend and Ledger’s riveting performance was still fresh in my mind.

What took me so long to see it? (1) I refuse to camp out and wait for anything these days, and (2) I loathe watching blockbuster movies from an angle that requires a periscope and/or several successive sessions with my chiropractor. Thus, I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight last weekend in a dilapidated multiplex in Brooklyn. I got there just in time for the previews, settled into one of the primo handicapped seats in the house (extra legroom! free Goobers courtesy of the patron at the 5:30 screening!), accompanied by maybe 20 other people in the theater, including Annie Barrett. (Not really.) My friend Richard, who had seen Knight along with the 86,000,000,000 other fans its opening weekend, came with me, as the first time he saw it, the guy behind him wouldn’t stop laughing, very very loudly, at EVERYTHING, even the parts that were downright creepy. So Richard wanted to see it again, minus the accidental soundtrack.

Upshot: We got great seats in a perfectly silent theater. But then again, such a lax moviegoing method occasionally backfires. I become a bit of a conversation Nazi when a movie I haven’t yet seen crops up in conversation with friends, or I cover my ears and go, "la la la la," which always goes over really well. And I miss out on the surge of adrenaline, the feeling of excitement that fairly crackles through a packed-to-capacity theater on opening weekend. And I voted for Tim Roth. (Not really.)

How about you, PopWatchers? Do you roll empty or full?

Comments (134 total) Add your comment
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  • Anthony

    I love it when the theater is 100% empty! I have seen so many movies when I am the only one in the place and I love it! :)

  • Catherine

    Depends on the movie. For “Indiana Jones” we went on opening night and sat in a packed theater. It added to the experience. If I’m in a bad mood, I’ll go when there aren’t a lot of folks so that I’m not annoyed by the people who put their feet on the backs of the seats.

  • Taylor

    Are you kidding? An empty movie theater is like a wet dream. Maybe that’s a bit much. But really, the older I get, the more I loathe the masses. The talkers, the cell phones, the candy, the popcorn eaters, the late comers. I can’t take it.
    But in a big loud summer blockbuster(like Dark Knight), I don’t mind watching a movie with a big crowd. I usually find that the audiences that go the opening weekend REALLY want to see and listen to the movie and not act like slobs.

  • NamesnotAnnie

    I’m with Catherine. For blockbusters, it’s really fun to have the communal experience of a full movie theatre. But for indies or dramas, I prefer when there aren’t a lot of people in the audience. For chick flicks?… I like the theatre half-full. Otherwise it gets annoying.

  • Green Gummi Bear

    I too hate crowded movies, you have teens who have nothing better to do but could care less so they talk/shout/etc., you have those a little older with kids of their own who don’t care if their kids are crying, running crazy, etc. (it’s cheaper than a babysitter). So usually I hit the first showing on Saturday, all the hard core people tried to hit it the night before and/or don’t wake up in time for a 10am movie. If you wait too long to see it, you have the issues you mentioned, plus the film strip gets scratchy and poor quality after all those other showings, and with fewer patrons, those left will feel comfortable to talk over the movie. I REALLY wish theaters would designate, especially when they’re showing the same movie on three screens, a “no kids” and/or “seriously, no talking” showing.

  • Adele

    it depends. I like people in the theater, but if I have to wait in line and/or sit where I’m gazing upward at a 300 foot screen, i’m out. Also, I want to know what cruddy theater in Brooklyn you went to, there aren’t many left….Alpine, Sheepshead Bay….Pavallion…Do tell.

  • Adele

    it depends. I like people in the theater, but if I have to wait in line and/or sit where I’m gazing upward at a 300 foot screen, i’m out. Also, I want to know what cruddy theater in Brooklyn you went to, there aren’t many left….Alpine, Sheepshead Bay….Pavallion…Do tell.

  • Robert

    I love being the only person in the theater, and I loath seeing comedies with a full house – I miss half the jokes, which is just annoying.

  • Martha

    I like more crowded movie theaters if I have a good, non-neck killing seat and if the audience is into the movie, not into texting/cell phone yapping. Those are gigantic ifs. I’m going with empty.

  • R.O.B.

    The only movies I enjoy seeing full are comedies – and let me clarify: full of adults. Somehow when there is a whole audience of people laughing, it makes the movie even funnier – but there is the occasional nuisance who laughs loudly and annoyingly at everything, even the stuff that isn’t meant to be funny. As for all other movies, people have gotten far too rude and annoying – talking loudly, commentating, texting each other, walking in and out, kicking seats, wearing overbearing perfumes, chewing ice, letting their babies cry, bringing their young children to violent horror movies, and sneaking in smelly fried food… I even encountered someone jangling a length of heavy duty chain for 45 minutes. I truly wish that a full movie theater would not make me question basic judgement, respect and courtesy in society today, but it does, and that sucks.

  • Lili

    I love full theatres. I don’t mind standing in line for an hour (or more sometimes) on opening night to get good seats. My friends and I just chat and people-watch while waiting. Nothing beats watching a blockbuster like Dark Night with a huge crowd cheering on the good guys and clapping along to particularly good action sequences. It’s part of the whole movie-going experience!

  • LisaMama

    I like full theaters for action pics and comedies — more empty for dramas. I saw Dark Knight with a full theater, and it was fine, but I can’t wait to see it again at home without the distractions.

  • Cpt.Sparrow

    Depends on if I’m going with a group or by myself. I love seeing movies by myself- don’t have to worry about chitchatty friends and you can fully delve into the movie. I like it packed if I’m by myself- lots of time for people watching and it adds to the environment. If I’m with a group-it’s more fun if we’re the only ones.

  • Eric Friedmann

    I have virtually stopped going to the movies because over the years I have come to absolutely detest all of the rude and inconsiderate yaking, cell-phone texting morons that I constantly have the misfortune of ending up near in the theater. Now when I go, if I go, I try to pick the oddest hour of the day possible so as to have as empty a theater as possible. I almost never go on the weekends anymore.
    As you can undoubtedly tell, a people person I am not!!!

  • alexandra

    i LOATHE going to the movies unless it’s nearly empty. i have yet to see “the dark knight” because i was waiting for all the schoolkids to be back in school…and now i’ll head to a matinee. people are just obnoxious at the movies these days. everyone’s yapping, texting (hello, we can see the light on your phones, moron – just cuz you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’re not being annoying), laughing at innappropriate spots, kicking my chair, etc., etc. this is why i rarely go to the theater – the general public’s completely retarded. i’m not paying 10+ bucks to listen to your running-commentary, mr. “needs to comment on everything going onscreen”, you know?

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