In 2013, I saw 68 movies at the theater. As the year came to a close, I thought, “That’s 2/3rd’s of the way to 100. I wonder if it is possible.” And I set the goal. 100 movies in one year, for 2014.
It started off easy enough. I saw 9 in January, 10 in February, and 11 each in March and April. Then summer arrived. The thing I never realized before, is once those “Summer Blockbusters” arrive, that’s all the theaters show. Theaters devote a ton of screens to movies like Godzilla, Transformers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, muscling out the smaller indie films that I needed to keep my pace alive. Also around this time, it started to feel less like fun and more like work. There were plenty of Tuesday nights where I just wanted to stay home in my PJ’s, but found myself driving to the theater for a 10:15 showing. I knew it was a one year experiment though, and I would never do something like this again, so I kept chipping away at it.
Over the course of the year, I kept to my rough pace of about 10 a month, and so after a surge in October and December, I finished with a final tally of 122, meaning on average, I was in a theater every 3rd day, all year long. All in all, I did have a blast. I saw some great films, some terrible films, and plenty in between. I saw films I normally would have skipped, but ended up greatly enjoying; I saw films that were highly touted but I thoroughly couldn’t stand. In the end, I saw pretty much every movie I had any inkling of trying, and only skipped the ones I either knew (A) to be terrible, or (B) wouldn’t interest me at all.
And if you have any interest at all, here are some stats :
I saw nearly half of the movies (60) at Ronnie’s, the closest theater to me. It was the easiest to get to on those late night showings! In second place was Des Peres (22), mostly because their weekend morning films start about an hour earlier than Ronnie’s, so it was a good way to get in and get out and still have a big portion of the my day left. All of the rest were seen at : Regal Gravois Bluffs, AMC Creve Coeur, Chase Park Plaza, Landmark Plaza Frontenac, Arnold Wehrenberg, and a couple one-offs at the Galleria, Chesterfield Galaxy, Regal St Louis Mills, and a double feature at the great Skyview drive-in in Belleville. Even saw a film at the Barrywood theater in Kansas City while out of town one weekend.
I saw a great portion of my movies on the weekends, before noon (again, leaving me the rest of my days free). I went back-to-back days 19 times, back-to-back-to-back 4 times, and saw 4 movies in 4 consecutive days three times. Also, only five times did I see 2 movies in the same day.
As for rating the theaters, there really wasn’t one that had “everything.” The comfiest seats contest goes to the Regal in Gravois Bluffs. Nice big chairs that rock back and forth, you have to be careful not to fall asleep! I tended to like the screens best at the AMC in Creve Coeur, they are bright and colorful and just seemed sharper. Des Peres is a crapshoot, sometimes you get the big room with the comfy seats, but more often than not you get a screen in the left back hallway (stadium seating but tight rows and chairs) or the right back hallway (no stadium seating, the travesty!). Though the Chase shows great indie films, the screens and seats are about the worst you’ll find in the area, and you can usually see the same films at Frontenac for a better viewing experience. I almost always picked my showings based on time, so whichever theater was showing my latest film at the time that worked best for my schedule, that’s where I was going. I did the high-end dine-in screen experience once, to celebrate movie #100. The chairs are great, but trying to eat in the dark is too much of a challenge for me.
So what’s next? I’ll still go to the theaters some, but I’m cutting back a lot, and going back to seeing only the movies I really want to see. I’ll have a few Oscar-worthy movies in January that haven’t yet made it to my nearby screens (Selma, American Sniper, Still Alice). I’ll still write movie reviews, but sometimes you won’t read it until it has made it to Redbox, HBO, etc. But my next big goal is books, as you may tell from the change in my blog design here.
If you’ve been following for awhile, you know I read, though not as much as I’d like. So in addition to movie reviews, I’ll be writing my thoughts on some old books. I won’t review the newer stuff I read (I’ll leave out my trashy sci-fi indulgences), but I found a good “100 Classic Novels” list that I’ll be starting. Obviously it is a long term goal, not something I’ll finish in a year or maybe even ten years, but I will get through that list eventually.
Thank you to everyone who read my thoughts this year. Thank you to my wife for prompting, then urging, then forcing me to start this blog and “being creative.” Thank you to Moviepass, for saving me roughly $700 in movie tickets. Thank you to Wehrenberg for heaping free popcorn and soda on me with their loyalty program, and all the workers there that put up with me on a regular basis, especially those late nights when I was sometimes the only person in the theater. I hope everyone reading can come up with your own silly little goals, and can accomplish them, and have fun doing it.