Let me long-windedly preview this with the disclosure that I am an Arclight junkie. Even at $14 a ticket, it is without doubt the finest place in town to see a flick: online purchases of reserved seating, no commercials, those ushers that step up to the mic before the show starts to make sure you’re in the right place and that your goddam cellphone is silenced… it’s all good.
I’m bummed whenever a film is not playing there. I believe I actually had an indignant blogfit last year when I learned that “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” was absent from its screens (only after watching the DVD did I realize the good people there were trying to spare me from that overhyped piece of crapola).
So long intro short, I’m spoiled rotten and setting foot in any other movieplex is bound to leave me tsk-tsking and rolling my eyes at the inevitable shortcomings. This was never truer than at Disney’s vaunted El Capitan this weekend. Looking for a Christmas Day tour through the magical land of Narnia, I ended up settling on the El Cap because it was the nearest theater in the area that offered online ticketing and reserved seating — but that “VIP” option comes at a hefty premium. When the price came up on screen I mistakenly thought the $22 pricetag was for both seats. Hell no. At checkout I was about to be dinged for $44 plus a $2 per seat “service fee.” That shit scared me so bad, I not only closed the browser window, but ran away from the computer like a litle girl.
Forty-eight dollars…!? For me and my wife to see a movie in seats of our choice rather than off to the sides with the general admission throng next to some cholicky 3-year-old who won’t quit coughing/crying?!? Oh Arclight, I’ll never smite upon thine’s ticket prices ever again! But with the jones still strong in me I ended up rationalizing it: Jesus’ birthday does only come but once a year, and the price did include popcorn and a drink, plus the El Cap is a beautful theater… thus I caved in and ordered them up, wincing when I clicked the submit button.
What a sucker I am. But at least I drew the line at paying the $10 max at the theater’s nearest parking lot, instead lucking into a space on Hollywood Boulevard a couple blocks away. But the drink was a 20-ounce screwtop and that free popcorn? Weak. Sure it came in a souvineer Narnia bucket, but it contained a super-stale kidsized portion to go with the kidsized seats we were forced to endure. If nothing else, at least these things didn’t detract from the movie being awesome fun for this lifetime C.S. Lewis fan. But despite being prefaced by some festive organ music and an engaging snow-spewing curtain show along with an interesting desplay of props from the film that we saw on our way out, the El Capitan is a pricey moviegoing experience that I’ll not suffer again.