I hadn’t been to a theater in more than two years, not since COVID, but with Spiderman and The Batman both out now, it was game on!
Spiderman was first. I’m a little tired of the Spiderman movies, but two of my superhero-loving kids were all about it, so I was too! We were all looking forward to it. But the staff at the concession stand acted like we’d just knocked on their door at 11 pm on a Sunday, and our assigned seats were covered in somebody else’s popcorn. Then we had to sit through half an hour of trailer after trailer.
Then, halfway through the movie, my daughter looked up at me and said, “can I have more popcorn?” Whoops, I guess I ate most of hers. No worries, I got up to go get the free refill we were promised, which involved practically begging the concession staff to acknowledge that I exist, and when I got back my son told me I’d missed the most important scene in the movie.
I was more excited to see The Batman. It’s some serious dark psychological introspection! But the family sitting right behind us included a baby. Yes, a baby. Now, no judgment—families with babies deserve to have fun, and little kids should be able to see movies if they want. But a squirming, crying baby at The Batman (and adults loudly “shhh”ing said baby) is just one of those things you can’t control about a movie theater experience.
Eventually one of the parents behind us took the baby somewhere else, and we settled in to enjoy the movie. Except The Batman is three hours long, and I’d drunk a lot of Coke, and, well, you know….And when I came back, yep, you guessed it, my son was like “you literally just missed the most important part of the movie.” Ha. Perfect!
So there I was, quietly asking what happened, and possibly ruining the moment for the family behind us. I couldn’t control their baby, and they couldn’t control me. That’s just part of the movie theater experience for everybody.
The experience matters. I could watch movies with my family at home, streaming Netflix, watching on a crystal-clear 75-inch screen TV with a pause button next to me, a bathroom within steps, and a kitchen behind—or, even better, a DoorDasher ready to bring us whatever we want! So it’s not like I have to go to the theater if I want to watch a movie. I have alternatives—good alternatives! If I take my family to the theater, it’s because we want an experience we couldn’t get at home. Messy, spilled popcorn, bad customer service, and missing important scenes—yeah, that’s not what we meant!
I’m not going to stop going to the movies with my kids. It’s something I enjoy doing with them. But maybe we’ll do it less. There are other things we enjoy.
My point is that all this has me thinking about your experience when you work with me. Because you, too, have alternatives—just like I don’t have to go to a movie theater, you don’t have to come to me. It’s my responsibility to make sure the experience I offer is an alternative worth picking!
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