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Tag: 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.

The Pain of having to Wait after a Cliffhanger

To quote the original “Lost in Space” franchise, “Oh, the pain… the pain”… of having to endure the wait for a show’s next season.

Cliffhangers are the norm in movie and TV storytelling these days. It’s not unusual to get to the credits of anything without a significant hanging thread compelling you to get to the next episode as fast as possible.

My family and I just watched the third (and final) season premiere of Netflix’s “Lost in Space.” And of course, our 11-year-old son was pleading at the end of the episode that we blow through his bedtime to watch the second episode. (As there are only 8, I held the line to extend the joy over these upcoming viewing weeks.)

Keeping Track of the Jupiter 2’s Course
This fun, non-stop sci-fi series has been constructed on an endless number of cliffhangers, and it’s been especially challenging as a viewer to wait between seasons to see what happens. It’s helpful that Netflix automatically served up a recap of season 2 to kick things off. The writers enjoy dropping breadcrumbs, and you really need to keep track of developing plot points across the seasons.

Yes, it’s been hard to handle the long pause between the second and third seasons of “Lost in Space.” It’s been almost 2 years! (Yes, there were Covid-19 production delays.) But the producers have committed to get the fans to the finish line. (I can’t yet speak to the characters’ success on that important question.)

You’d think that properly ending any story is an essential technique. But of course, viewership numbers can sometimes kill off a series prematurely and leave the cliffhanger… hanging.

It’s not bad storytelling. Its economics. But ultimately, it actually is bad storytelling.

For a time, I wondered if the new “Dune” would fall into this category.

Why do Movies have Cliffhangers to Sequels that aren’t Greenlit?
The writers and producers of “Dune” wisely chose to tackle just the first half of the book (unlike the 1984 flick, which tried to cram it all in).

The start of “Dune” even includes a title graphic that say “Part One.” And yes, the movie ends on a cliffhanger, although it plays more like a chapter ending. It’s arguably the film’s weakest element. But you accept it, because there’s going to be a part two… right?

Well, after I watched it with my son on the day of its premiere in October, I immediately did some Googling to see when the sequel was coming out, and I was shocked with what I found.

It’s not that they hadn’t shot the sequel yet. It’s that the sequel hadn’t even been greenlit! They were waiting to see how successful the first film is.

I get the economics, but come on!

How Good is Half of “Dune?”
Okay, so they did green-light the sequel a few days later. (The sequel will be released in October 2023.)

But imagine if the box office wasn’t so kind to “Dune.” We would only have gotten half a story.

As it turned out, “Dune” was a big success. And my son and I liked it too.

It’s a perfect family film if you’re regulars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, there’s lots of action and PG-13-level violence. But If your kids can handle “The Avengers,” “Dune” shouldn’t be a problem. “Dune” is more mature in its storytelling style and more serious in tone. And I think it’s a great next step for a young sci-fi fan.

The Economics can Ruin a Movie Fan’s Day
I can’t dispute economics, but it would have been so much better from a viewer’s perspective if both movies were made back to back, like the second and third installments of “The Matrix” series. (Can’t wait for the fourth one, even though it’s been 18 years!)

Hey, what about a three or four-part “Dune” miniseries for HBO Max? (Yes, again that means covering all of the content.)

Ultimately, If you’re going to tell one story, I feel you’ve got to commit to telling the whole story! Waiting for box office numbers can tragically lead to movies without an ending and very cranky fans.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve just got to have some faith that things are going to work out the way they should. I’m sure director Dennis Villeneuve had faith that he’d get his shot to direct his “Dune” sequel.”

And remember when the pilot of the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot came out in 2003 with a huge cliffhanger? The actual ground-breaking sci-fi series didn’t show up until 2005. So having to wait is not without precedent.

And then there’s “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” We had to wait another three years to find out Han’s fate.

But in this age of countless streaming options and a glut of great content to watch, fans can be fickle.

If there’s a cliffhanger, please don’t make us wait too long for what comes next.

20 Movies to Stream with your Kids while Practicing Social Distancing

Watching a movie at home with your children can be a great way to forget about the coronavirus for a while. Here are some choices you may not have thought about lately.

On any normal weekend, I often find it difficult to find an age-appropriate movie to stream with my nine-year-old son in our family room. He’s generally graduated from G-rated content, but PG movies aren’t always right for him. That said, having read the Harry Potter series, he handled the PG-13 movies just fine.

Everyone’s kid is different. So a simple rating shouldn’t really do more than act as a general guide. You’ve really got to figure it out on your own before you press play.

But if you’re like me, you don’t always have the chance to preview the entire movie ahead of time. So, you’ve got to rely on other opinions to help guide your own choices.

Use Common Sense?
My wife and I often go to Common Sense Media to find out other parents’ thoughts on the appropriate age group for movies we’re considering. I’ve generally found them to be pretty strict about what kids should and shouldn’t watch, which isn’t a bad thing. That said, I tend to subtract a year or two from the recommended age for a particular flick. And that’s because of what I know is appropriate for my own boy. So, you should calibrate accordingly.

Time to Stream a Movie
These are not normal times. As I write this, everything around me and my family has generally shut down for the next two weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. And of course, we’re practicing social distancing.

So, one likely result from all of this is the pressure to serve up more movies at home to your kids. Where you might have had to identify only one new family-friendly movie a week to watch, now you may need a whole bunch more.

I know there are countless activities parents can do with their kids other than simply adding screen time to their day. Even so, I feel it couldn’t hurt to put together a deeper bench of movies choices to serve up as needed during these uncertain weeks ahead.

20 Movies to Watch at Home with your Kids

If you want to expand your own cue of movie choices, please consider these flicks that my son and I have enjoyed together on the couch. You might have missed some of them. Please note that I’ve excluded the usual popular animated choices. (I’m sure you’re well aware of those options already!)

The Adventures of Tintin, PG (2011)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Any Serkis, Daniel Craig (animated)
Directed by Steven Spielberg, this has a wonderful “Raiders of the Lost Ark” energy to it.

Bridge to Terabithia, PG (2007)
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb
Really sweet, although it doesn’t have your typical happy ending.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, PG (2005)
Starring: Johnny Depp
Warped like only Tim Burton can do… but still lots of fun.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, PG (1982)
Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore
Of course, right?!

The House with a Clock in Its Walls, PG (2018)
Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett
A little creepy, but Jack and Cate are so enjoyable to watch.

Hugo, PG (2011)
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Christopher Lee
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it’s a classic that you may have missed.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, (2017)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart
Solid entertainment.

National Treasure series, PG (2004, 2007)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger
Really clever.

The NeverEnding Story, PG (1984)
Starring: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver
Yes, it’s dated, but it still connects to kids.

Night at the Museum series, PG (2006, 2009, 2014)
Starring: Ben Stiller
What’s not to love? LOL fun.

Race to Witch Mountain, PG (2009)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino
Action-packed and suspenseful, but still plenty silly.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, PG (2018)
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld (animated)
This is a great movie for children of all ages.

The Spiderwick Chronicles, PG (2008)
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, David Strathairn
More creepy fun.

Spy Kids series, PG (2001, 2002, 2003)
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, it’s an over-the-top spoof of adult spy flicks.

A Wrinkle in Time, PG (2018)
Starring: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon
Visually stunning.

Don’t Forget the Popcorn
If you have other suggestions to add to this list, I’d love to hear them! I’ve got my own expanded movie playlist to put together.

Good luck and be safe.

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