By Shelbi LeMeilleur
It takes a certain type of person to brave going to a movie theater alone. I am one of those rare few.
According to the 2014 Harris Poll, only four in 25 Americans prefer to go to the movies alone. I started going to the movies by myself for one simple reason – I love movies and I was tired of waiting on my friends or family to see the next hit (or flop) with me.
People ask me all the time, “Why go to the movies alone when you can just watch something on Netflix?” Well, my answer is this – the movie theater has a certain magic that can’t be achieved on a TV screen at home. There is something special about driving to a theater, buying a fresh bag of hot, buttery popcorn and an ICEE, and sitting in front of a massive screen. You can’t do that at home; you just can’t.
Think about this – when you go to a movie, do you look to see how your companions react to certain parts? Do you comment on things happening during the movie? Or the previews? We all do it, and that’s part of the fun of going to the movies, but sometimes, it gets exhausting.
When I go to the movies, I’m going because I want to go – because I want to experience a movie on my own. Going to the movies alone is a judgment free experience. Of course, some people may see me sitting alone and pity me, but I’m not worried about what they think of me. I’m at the movies to escape for a couple of hours, so that is exactly what I do. I can cry without people staring at me. I can laugh obnoxiously at things that may not even be funny. I can internally curse (or externally mumble at) characters I don’t like. Even better, if the movie really sucks, I can take the best nap of my life. Seriously, the best nap I’ve ever taken was at a movie theater, during a film so dreadful, I don’t even remember the name. Anyway, I can do whatever I please without hesitation. Well, within the bounds of proper theater etiquette, of course.
Going to the movies alone takes a special skill set. The first time I went alone, I was terrified. I have since perfected the art.
I’m not saying every time you go to a movie alone, you will have the best time of your life. There have been plenty of poor experiences, too. My worst experience was during a Tuesday evening show. The theater was completely empty except for five or six couples spread throughout the theater. Right as the previews began, a younger couple came running into the theater, spilling their large popcorn and drink everywhere. Of course, they chose to sit right next to me.
Their obnoxious comments and lack of personal space could have ruined even the best of movies, but one bad experience won’t ruin one of my favorite past-times. When things turn sour, don’t be afraid to leave, move seats, or just laugh about
The key to the best experiences is to get to the movie early and establish your area. I prefer going to matinee shows because they tend to have the fewest people. In order to avoid the most people and awkward stares that ensue, I usually sit in the middle of the back two or three rows, depending on how big the theater is. If the show isn’t crowded, I put my purse and/or jacket in the seat next to me. Drink goes in one cup holder, candy in the other. Popcorn goes in my lap. Then, again depending on the crowd, I either pull my legs up in the chair with me, or put them on the seat in front of me. Once my set-up is perfected, I sit back, relax, and enjoy the magic of the theater. I laugh, I cry, (sometimes) I sleep. Most importantly, I don’t share my popcorn.