The Virus of Dumb is Spreading

It is the best of theaters, it is the worst of theaters.

ArcLight Cinemas opened this past Fall in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. It looks like ArcLight Hollywood. Yet, aside from selecting your own seats and the departure board listing film times in the lobby, it doesn’t do its namesake justice.

I think I’ve given it a fair shake. I sat through I Am Legend as the couple next to me held a two-hour conversation. I avoided eye contact as a woman behind me cackled through previews before The Orphanage. I have been patient and kept my mouth shut with a generation of movie patrons who have gotten accustomed to weekends spent with Blockbuster, Netflix, and TiVo.

Last night, we went to see Atonement. I was lucky enough to sit next to an older woman who asked insightful questions like, “oh, are they all dead?” I don’t know, lady. Rows of bodies. Eyes open. Gunshot wounds to the head. You got me.

I did have plenty of warning before the first preview:

“Can you turn up the music?” the woman yelled to an usher.

“The movie will start in about 2 minutes,” he replied.

“Well, we’ve only been sitting here for 20. It would have been nice to have something to listen to. We ought to get something for paying as much as we do to go to a movie,” she growled back.

She was right, on so many levels.

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20 Replies to “The Virus of Dumb is Spreading”

  1. Last night I saw Atonement at the Arclight Hollywood, someone was eating pistachios next to me. And they looked surprised when I asked them to stop, it was very loud and annoying… then at about halfway through the movie they, very loudly, opened up a bag of chips and ate those. Shortly after that her husband decided to lay out among the chairs and sleep instead of watching the movie. What’s going on at Arclight?

  2. So funny. I saw Atonement as well last night! (Arclight Hollywood, 11pm)
    No problems at the screening though.

    Again, if people are having a convo, you need to say something or let an usher know. Especially in the Oaks where the Arclight is new, you need to demonstrate the militance.

    In Hollywood, except for the occasional texter and people kicking the back of my seat (who are you people?), the crowds are always quiet and respectful.

    That said, the computers are all too often FUBAR, and there are frequently problems BEFORE the movie begins, but I’d attribute the virus more to Sherman Oaks moviegoers than the Arclight experience going awry.

  3. I do think it’s a Sherman Oaks thing. People don’t seem to get that ArcLight is supposed to be different. But, I don’t want to ruin every movie for myself and others by confronting some moron every time. Honestly, I think the theater needs to do a better job educating its patrons on how to behave. Even that should be unnecessary.

    I think I’m going to start going back over the hill. It’s a shame that theater etiquette has become a lost art.

  4. what really ticks me off is highschool girls at movies, always giggling and talking out of their .. you know what. If I can I just move to a different place or go SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH really loud (usually gets the job done) way better than yelling STFU (which also works)

  5. Biggest. Pet. Peeve. I’ve totally gotten into it with people. And I concur that by remaining silent you are condoning misbehavior. If you don’t want to make a scene, get an usher. Or find me.

  6. Arclight, snarklight. I kicked that habit awhile ago after their website took my money but gave me no tix — a second time.

    For a lowlow $6.50 matinee and $8 regular price my theater of choice is the Laemmle Grand 4plex downtown on Fig at 4th. The screens may not be that big and the projection/sound systems not state of the ar, but the theater seating is wide open and it’s basically a seven-minute drive from Silver Lake with none of the parking nightmare found all around Sunset/Vine.

  7. I agree – its a Sherman Oaks issue. People in Hollywood have more reverence both for movies and for viewing environments. Its the same in Burbank, for some reason talking during the show is completely acceptable there.

  8. i went to the arclight in the oaks and people just didn’t understand why their old movie theatre needed to be closed for so long just so…what, nothing could change?

    i understand people who are into the whole arclight snootiness, but that theater was way less annoying before it became an arclight cinema.

    no one in the valley seems to understand assigned seating either, which is, i think, hilarious. why don’t they just give the people of the valley what they want and those who want to go see movies with assigned seats and guards at the door can just go to the hollywood arclight?

  9. I saw both Juno and Atonement at Arclight Sherman Oaks. The Juno viewing was similar to any Arclight Hollywood experience. I went back to see Atonement during the holidays there was a woman and her daughter complaining about their seats prior to the trailers, guess they didn’t realize there is assigned seating (or understand it as Ben mentioned). Then when the usher introduced the movie I think like 5 of us clapped and the theater was full. I am hoping it was a holiday crowd from out of town. I really like having the arclight on this side of town and hope it doesn’t deteriorate like Burbank AMC (where my parents witnessed high school students having sex prior to Bourne Ultimatum)…I don’t go to that theater anymore.

  10. I’ve been to the Sherman Oaks Arclight numerous times and I haven’t really had any problems. I usually go to the late shows on Sat. My only gripe is the food. The baguettes are glorified hot dogs with stale buns. I need an Icee with my movie, I know it’s not very Arclight but the mango smoothies aren’t cutting it. Italian ice perhaps?

  11. I saw Juno at SO Arclight and folks were fine really. No texters, no crunchers, no slurpers or sleepers or clueless seniors (I rely on Laemmle Encino for that). At one point, my friend and I were the only ones laughing and I thought to myself, “In Hollywood, everyone would be laughing,” but otherwise, it was fine. Maybe it’s an Atonement problem. I can walk to the SO Arclight so I refuse to give up on its potential.

  12. Ill-mannered rude-osity is a Sherman Oakian thing not limited to the Barclite. In traffic. At restaurants. At the grocery store. Gives renewed import to the pejorative “Okie.”

  13. Teck said “what really ticks me off is highschool girls at movies, always giggling and talking out of their .. you know what. If I can I just move to a different place or go SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH really loud (usually gets the job done) way better than yelling STFU (which also works)”

    -reminds me of that scene from buffy, the movie. ha! buffy i love you.

  14. When I found out they were building an ARC Light in Sherman Oaks (where I live) I was so excited. I mean, I am an avid movie go-er and the Hollywood location was a bit far to catch a last minute screening. (although It is my favorite theatre) When I went to the Hollywood location no one talked during the movie, no one was annoyingly cruching chips, no one was kicking my chair. it was like all the people in the theatre were movie critics and paying close attention to the movie in order to write their article later. I felt like that myself. All the other movie theatres (i.e Burbank, Encino, old SO galleria, etc..) was like going to amateur hour at the apollo. People bringing their crying baby to see the “Bourne Ultimatum” are you kidding me? It bothers me because i don’t understand why they are there in the first place if they’re are not going to pay attention to the movie, you know? go spend your time somewhere else. I kept telling myself to not go to those theatres anymore because it ruins the experience for me. I am very easily distracted and if you are texting during the movie, trust me, i am hearing YOU not the movie. But i still went because i had no choice.

    Then they built the Sherman Oaks ARC Light. Looks great. So excited. I have seen at least 5 movies since the re-opening and 4 of the 5 movies had a some sort of rude person/distraction to ruin half the movie. And i don’t mean someone saying one sentence and me getting easily annoyed. i mean a couple that talks the entire movie. And I mean during I Am Legend the girl next to me says out loud more than once, “oh no sam. poor sam. not sam. what are they going to do” to the dog dying. seriously. I realized it was not the ARC light theatre i loved. (i do love assigned seating though) It was the clientele that goes to ARC light hollywood. It’s got to be all industry people that respect the theatre and have probebly worked on the movie they are going to see. Clearly the Sherman Oaks Galleria is full of idiots that act like they’ve never scene a movie before. what i realized in this moment it’s not the place but the person. This theatre is not going to ever be ARC light Hollywood. Not because of how it looks or it’s location, but because we don’t have the same kind of customers. I guess all i can do is boycott all other theatres except the Hollywood ARC LIght. That seems to be the only place I can watch my movies in peace.

  15. I just spoke to a coworker (and PS I work at Netflix) who saw Juno at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks and had such a terrible time with teenagers in her theater (who didn’t give a rat’s buttocks that she was going to get a theater employee to shush them or escort them out) that she probably will not be going back out to see a movie in a theater AT ALL for the rest of the year. She also proclaimed the staff at this theater to be subpar to the ones at the Hollywood venue.

    I swear on an old stack of New Beverly calendars that not once have I had trouble with chatters at the Arclight in Hollywood or at the various Laemlle’s theaters in Pasadena.

    What pisses me off these days folks is the fact that nowadays, when you SHOOSH someone, they tend to act like YOU’RE THE ONE BEING RUDE.

  16. I went to see I Am Legend a couple of weeks ago – a weekday afternoon. Chatted with a staffer as we were killing time before the film. She said that they’ve had a number of protests from Oaksters who don’t understand why they can’t bring their infants in for free, why ushers tell them to be quiet, etc. etc. etc.

    I think it will take a little while to shake down, but my experiences so far have been very good, plus it’s walking distance from my place. I’ll keep going back.

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