Carping On The El Crapitan

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.

8 Replies to “Carping On The El Crapitan”

  1. My love for Arclight has been reignited this weekend after visiting a multiplex in Manhattan Beach that shall remain nameless. If the fact that the auditorium itself was not much bigger than by apartment wasn’t enough, the sounds for the movie (Syrianna btw) was so quiet you really had to lean forward to hear. After a couple of complaints, they turned it up….from one extreme to another, now it was so loud, there was a constant hissing. Plus, people kept talking all the way through, I never understand that!

    Arclight come back, all is forgiven!

  2. Full disclosure: I too am an Arclight junkie, for all the reasons you listed. I will gladly fork over the extra four dollars to not have to watch those stupid moviefone.com commercials or the Illegal Downloading PSAs. Arclight forever.

  3. Is that unnamed Manhattan Beach multiplex the one in the mall next to Fry’s? If it’s the one I’m thinking of, the last (and I mean the last) time I was there at least 25% of the film was projected off of the screen and off keystone. Or is there another theatre in Manhattan to avoid?

  4. Amen to Arclight snobbery!

    And Narnia really was the money for the holiday weekend, wasn’t it? So magical and wonderful and childhood revisted and, and, and…

    :)

  5. Oh man I can’t wait to get back to LA and to my beloved Arclight. Yesterday wifey and I went to check out King Kong with her Uncle at a local mall here in lovely Punta Gorda, Florida and good christ, I wanted to die. First off, they never turned the house lights off. I thought it was an oversight at first but when I mentioned it I was told that in fact it was on purpose, that the retirees who frequent the theaters complained that it was too dark and they couldn’t see the stairs OR EACH OTHER WHEN THEY WERE TRYING TO TALK so they now leave them dimmed, but not off. So you could see everything, and everyone the entire time. Next, people just don’t shut up. I’d forgotten how horrible it was to sit near a family where the parents have to explain every detail to the army of kids in tow, or have someone sitting behind you who has to vocalize everything “Oh! They have to run away!” “Oh, look how they are slipping on the ice!” “Oh, they are shooting at that monkey!” When the specifics weren’t distracting, you could hear a constant hum from all the other converstaions taking place in the theater. Seriously, we had to be the only 3 people there who were not talking the whole time. And when the lights finally came up, holy crap the place looked like the aftermath of a high school kegger. I couldn’t get out fast enough. Will be very nice to get back to civilization.

  6. After the same experience at the El Capitan seeing Finding Nemo I’ve never returned… and I live three blocks away. Since then I’ve preferred driving to Burbank, Century City, or even Santa Monica to see the same show.
    I’m mostly pissed off that they call 75% “VIP” and charge $22 bucks… VIP should be the best of the best, not “the only good seats”.
    The Nemo house was largely empty, and not knowing how bad the non-VIP seats were, paid for those. In spite of multiple rows of VIP seats unoccupied, the staff hovered over us to make sure we didn’t move when the film began. Most insulting film experience ever.
    That was a few years ago, and that charred bit of my Disney loving soul has yet to heal.

  7. Even during the post-Christmas madness, its garage full to overflowing, ticket lines out the wazoo, Arclight kicks the asses of all other theaters in Los Angeles. Clean, quiet, and NO LINE AT THE LADIES’ ROOM!! (Although there was one at the men’s…heh heh heh…)

  8. I’m an Arclight snob as well. To me it’s totally worth the extra $4, and the half-hour drive. Last time I was at the El Capitan was for Pirates of the Caribbean. The decorations were neat, the props were neat, the prices were too high, the seats were ‘eh’, and the kids were too loud. Not in any hurry to go back, not even for Narnia.

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