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Category: movies

Why Does it Take 40 Minutes for the Movie to Start?

Are you also puzzled why you have to sit in your movie theater seat for so long before your flick actually begins? Is it to give you time to eat more popcorn?

Watching movie previews used to be a really fun part of going out to the films. Remember when there was even a surprise factor? Of course, today you can find all movie trailers online. So you’ve probably already seen every preview the movie theater is going to throw at you.

But these days, that’s not the half of it. There’s all of that bland Noovie programming with Maria Menounos that runs before the film is scheduled to begin. (It also drifts 5-7 minutes into what used to be the ‘coming soon’ zone.) And then, there are promos for TV shows. And for the final insult, there are all of the commercials.


Limiting my Exposure
I intentionally avoid most commercials, now that I can pay more for a commercial-less streaming experience at home. (The major exception is the commercial line up for the Super Bowl. It’s always fun grading the most expensive 30-second spots on TV.)

Yes, I pay more for our streaming subscriptions to minimize my family’s commercial exposure. I think it’s really worth it. Our twelve-year-old son has grown up consuming his media mostly without commercial interruption.

Sure, I still carry about a fair amount of parental guilt regarding how much screen time he consumes (a much more complex equation than when the debate was just over ‘TV’ time). But at least I can say that commercials don’t bathe his being nearly as much as my own experience growing up.

With this accomplishment, I am especially displeased that movie theaters have become a new Wild West for commercials.

I simply don’t want us to watch commercials before a movie.

I feel inundated, and it’s painful.

By the time we get to Nicole Kidman telling us what a great experience it’s going to be at the movie theater, I want to run away.

Talk about a terrible warm-up act.

A 3-Hour Tour?
No, the preshow isn’t all commercial content, but it bloats the entire block to an unwatchable length. Getting through it all feels like an endurance test.

When I went to see “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” with my son, I lost literally forty minutes of my life squirming in my movie theater seat waiting for the MCU to start.

That creates an almost 3-hour viewing experience. Who’s got 3 hours anymore? It’s too much time. Way too much.

Post-Pandemic Reality
I know this is not a new phenomenon, but it feels like it’s getting worse. That’s probably because I haven’t returned to an actual movie theater that many times since Covid closed them all down.

If movie theater owners want all of their customers back, punishing them with content they don’t want to watch is not an especially great plan.

I understand that the business model of movie distribution needs to work, but this is out of control.

How Long Will You Wait for your Entertainment?
Consuming commercials used to be the way people watched television for free. Then we were taught that we could pay for premium movie channels on cable. And that evolved to paying for commercial-free streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix. Sometimes, you can play less per month with ‘limited’ commercials. But for me…that pure experience without any commercial interruption is worth the extra few bucks a month.

So I pay for the programming I watch on TV, and it’s usually commercial free.

And that’s always been the business model for movies theaters. When movie ticket prices go up, you can grumble, but that’s how it works.

But then when you throw in obligatory commercials at the movie theater on top of that, it’s crossing the line.

Today, it’s hard enough to wait 5 seconds to click out of a YouTube spot before you get to watch your video. Waiting 40 minutes for your movie is ludicrous.

Times have changed. When we are offered the option to ‘skip the open’ on our favorite streaming shows, today’s movie-going experience feels entirely out of sync with reality.

Add Back 38 Minutes into your Life
Clearly, the solution is to show up at your movie theater seat about 38 minutes late (as long as you’ve got reserved seats.)

This just takes a little reset in how you schedule your time. Trying to miss the movie previews has now evolved to how to avoid the preshow entirely.

Movie theater owners need to redesign their customer experience and offer something more worthwhile during the preshow.

Or just simply play the movie. That would be quite the innovation.

New Movie Theater Business Model
Okay, here’s a scary question: Would I pay even more for my movie ticket to ensure I don’t have to watch any commercials?

I would.

If cinema 1 is playing the movie with commercials and a 40-minute preshow, and cinema 2 right next to it has the same movie that simply starts at the posted time, yes I would pay more for a ticket to cinema 2.

And if that’s been the plan all along, then I have to tip my hat to some really smart marketers who are playing the long game.

For now, I’ll just try to be that guy who shows up a half-hour late.

My Life in 30 Seconds

A friend drew this wonderful pencil sketch of my face as the basis for the birthday gift piñata she made for my party. I’ve found that my birthdays have always been a time of reflection. Last year was particularly intense…

With my father’s recent passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about his legacy, which has led me to think a bit more about my own.

And I’ve been reflecting back on my journey to date. I’m talking way back and trying to take in my whole life. What’s my story so far, and how has it evolved?

One way I’ve gone through this exercise is to review the photos I’ve created and collected over the years. They document many of the moments that have helped to define me.

Create a Photo Montage of your Life
Five years ago, I created a little photo project, which I’ve decided to return to and update. It’s been really useful to jog my memories during this time.

The goal is to select just a very few pics that represent my life so far. And then create a photo montage in a short video. The result is inevitably influenced by the chosen group of pictures, which will vary each time I try this.

Still, these photos do represent one way to look at your life. And I’ve enjoyed this exercise to help regain a broader view.

My Life in 10 Seconds?
How many photos do you select? Well, one option is to squeeze down the number to how many can fit into a defined amount of time. Sure, if you don’t want to restrict yourself, the video might last for hours. But what if you just limit yourself to just a fraction of that?

When I first tried this five years back, I held my video to just 10 seconds, and
I explored a few different photo montages at that length.

Okay… That ended up being a little too fast, as my pictures needed to fly by so quickly you could barely register each image. Some of my viewers complained.

So this time, I’m giving myself the luxury of a whopping 30 seconds.

Barrett’s Birthday Photo Montage
Each birthday is a marker in time and one simple way to collect a group of photos to tell a story. So here are my birthdays…

Though birthday pics can look visually similar across the years (mine certainly do), when strung together, the collection acts as a sort of time machine.

For many of these photos, I tried to represent my age by holding up certain fingers. (I eventually gave that up when I ran out digits!)

Barrett’s Life Photo Montage
Without the guard rails of a specific life event to work with, which photos should you choose to represent your life? Yes, that’s a much harder exercise and one that will take more time to figure out.

I created this draft, but it’s hardly ‘finished.’

This montage offers more visual interest as it shows me out-and-about in the world (as opposed to stuck in front of a birthday cake). But it’s still missing a key ingredient in any life.

You’re Not Alone
Of course, it’s all the people you know. Your family and friends are such as important part of your journey. You need to include them in any photo montage that truly reflects your life.

So, happily, I’ve still got a lot of work to do on that front. Until then, my little photo montage is hardly complete.

What Comes Next?
No, 30 seconds is not a lot of time. And hopefully, it’s not enough for anyone to really work with.

If anything, it’s just a taste or an echo of something much larger… and longer.

But I’ve still found it to be a useful exercise to try to hone in on just a few highlights.

And perhaps, it might help focus me on what my next highlights could be.

Time machines can work in both directions.

Why I Woke Up at 4:30am on Vacation to Shoot these 6 Sunrise Timelapses

If you’re on vacation and happen to have a front-row seat to the sunrise, you might want to consider working that into your schedule. Here are the results of my creative effort.

I’ve just returned from a restorative family vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine. We stayed at a magical house on the water with two other families. The house is in Cape Porpoise right on an ocean inlet that transforms into an otherworldly span of mudflats at low tide.

The birds woke me up on our first morning at 4:45am. I peered out our bedroom window onto the flats and took in a pre-sunrise sky ablaze in purple and pink-colored clouds. I saw one of the other dads already out there with camera in hand. There was no need for words. I gestured that I would join his sunrise photo shoot.

Half asleep, I grabbed my tripod and DJI Osmo Pocket camera to record a timelapse of the sunrise over the mudflats. I stumbled down the stairs and onto the edge of the flats to join my friend.

Sunday Cape Porpoise Sunrise Timelapse

Sunday sunrise timelapse

The Set Up
The sun was due in 10 minutes, and I was running out of time. I hurriedly set up my timelapse to run for 20 minutes, snapping a frame at 2-second increments. This gimbal also let me add a little motion in the shot, which is really nice. And then I let nature take over. I watched the sunrise and simultaneously created this 20-second sunrise timelapse video.

The result wasn’t terrible, but the length felt short to me. And there weren’t many clouds in my shot. Plus, my settings didn’t allow enough time for the clouds to really move through my frame. (Clearly, it’s all about the clouds.)

Monday Cape Porpoise, Maine Sunrise Timelapse

Monday sunrise timelapse

I immediately wanted to try again. So the next morning, I did exactly that. I adjusted the timelapse settings to record for an hour at 3-second frame increments. That would capture more of the sunrise and also help the clouds to move faster. Here’s the 40-second result.

The scattered cloud cover instantly made this sunrise more interesting, and the longer timelapse felt like the perfect length.

In Search of More
I sat down on the lawn with my coffee and felt both relaxed and incredibly satisfied. I had fed my creative self, and it wasn’t even 6am yet.

So I decided to repeat the exercise for the rest of the week. 4:30am… every morning.

Waking up earlier that I normally do ran completely counter to my vacation goals of sleeping in. But I adjusted with adding afternoon vacation naps to my schedule.

All sunrises are unique. Even though the sun is a constant, the different cloud formations create limitless timelapse opportunities.

That said, I think some of my videos were more interesting than others based on cloud position and movement. But that’s just one opinion. Here are the rest of my vacation timelapses. (I’ve sped up these Gifs a bit to capture the full 40-seconds of each video.)

Tuesday Cape Porpoise Maine Sunrise Timelapse

Tuesday sunrise timelapse

Wednesday Cape Porpoise Sunrise Timelapse

Wednesday sunrise timelapse

Thursday Cape Porpoise Timelapse

Thursday sunrise timelapse

Friday Cape Porpoise Sunrise Timelapse

Friday sunrise timelapse

Not to play favorites (every sunrise is perfect), but I think Wednesday was the winner.
(Any other thoughts?)

The Value of Greeting the Day
On the last morning of our vacation, a storm was predicted, but I woke up early anyway and walked outside to greet the day and feel the breezes. Yes, it started to rain, but it was light.

There was no sunrise. But of course the dawn did arrive. I sat down on an Adirondack chair with my cup of joe to just… be.

I took in the dark clouds overhead. I didn’t have a camera in my hand, but I still relished in the conclusion of my week-long morning exercise.

And then I understood that it’s not always about being able to capture a sunrise. Sometimes, just being there is more than enough.

My vacation was complete.

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