Saturday morning. I really wanted to see the new movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I had other plans Friday night. No problem, I figured I’d catch a Saturday matinee showing of the 2015 summer blockbuster.
A few years ago, I saw the first Avengers movie at Latham Circle Mall’s theater complex. Yeah, at one point in time there was a theater complex at Latham Circle Mall. Heck, at one point in time there was a Latham Circle Mall. The total in attendance at that midnight showing? Ten people, including me.
Yawn, rise and shine, Saturday morning. I checked the movie schedule. Crossgates Mall had a 3-D showing of Avengers: Age of Ultron at 8:30 in the morning, and if I hurried, I could get there in time for the opening previews.
I arrived at Crossgates Mall, and discovered that my usual route to get to the movie theaters – enter through the fitness center entrance and ride down the escalator – was blocked. The escalators were disassembled. No, that doesn’t mean that they just became stairs. The stairs were missing, too. I had to walk halfway down the mall to find another staircase, and even then I was walking through some renovation / re-tiling program in the mall. Well, at least I’m getting my daily exercise fix…
Ticket purchased. Snacks purchased. And if you haven’t bought food at a movie theater lately, be aware of two things – (1) you will undoubtedly pay more for your snacks than you did for your ticket; and (2) the snack counter attendants offer more upsells than your local post office counterperson. Oh well, that’s what a Regal Club Card is for, get those points and eventually you an earn a free small popcorn (and by “small,” you can actually count the kernels in the bag without traveling too far into double digits).
Okay. Ticket taker takes my ticket stub (theater 4) and gives me a pair of plastic 3-D glasses. “Don’t forget to recycle them afterward,” he smiled at me. Heck with that. For what I paid in tickets and in food, I’m keeping these shades until the next 3-D movie. Nobody opened a “Rent-a-specs” center in Crossgates.
I arrive at the theater. Nobody’s there. Great. I get the pick of the seats. Sweet. Center row, halfway in. One cupholder for my drinks, one cupholder for my popcorn and my cellophane-wrapped 3-D glasses.
I sat through the previews. Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Yes. Pixels? Maybe. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? Really not feeling it. Fantastic Four? Front row baby.
Hmm… nobody else is in the theater. Come on, this is supposed to be a billion-dollar-blockbuster, where is everybody?
And as the opening credits for the film appeared… the flip-through animation of old comic book art and the big red MARVEL logo shone gloriously upon the cinema screen…
I realized that I was going to see this film all by myself. No one else in the theater.
Hell, I turned off my cell phone to make sure that I didn’t have any interrupting calls – who the hell would I interrupt?
About twenty minutes into the picture, I saw a theater usher waving his red flashlight around the walkways. I thought that maybe he would lead some last-minute stragglers into the auditorium. Nope. He was probably checking that someone didn’t buy tickets for film A and sneak into A:AoU instead.
Honestly, this provided me with a rare and amazing opportunity. I now had the chance to do my best Mystery Science Theater 3000 / Rocky Horror Picture Show call-and-response routines. You know, things like singing the old “When Captain America throws his mighty shield…” every time Captain America threw his shield on the screen. Things like shouting and clapping, “Where’s your wimple, clap clap clap-clap-clap” every time the Scarlet Witch used her hex powers. Or shouting, “Hey, Evan Peters, you had some face work done” every time the character of Pietro Maximoff did something amazing (yes, I know that the Evan Peters-acted “Quicksilver” is in the X-Men / Fox Marvel Universe, and this Quicksilver in the Avengers film is acted by someone different). Or shouting out, “Hey Grandpa, what’s for supper?” at the obligatory Stan Lee cameo appearance (you won’t miss it, it’s probably in the first ten minutes of the film).
Oh yeah, fun stuff like that. Who’s going to stop me?
As for the film itself, it definitely had its high moments and its draggy moments… all the technobabble mumbo jumbo about Tony Stark building Ultron gave me a serious headache… and they spent an inordinate amount of time setting up what promises to be the next two Avengers films, as well as the premise that could form the Avengers lineup (bordering closely towards the “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” lineup).
Oh yeah, and the over-under on hands getting chopped off by energy bolts (a la Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back) is at least two. You’ll see them.
Stay through the credits, you’ll get at least one stinger scene (same guy who was in the stinger scene in the first Avengers movie). There were no additional stinger scenes after that – no scenes of Avengers eating burgers or playing poker or wondering how come nobody told them that Phil Coulson is still alive and is doing a heckuva job stopping HYDRA with his own team…
And I saw the whole thing by myself, uninterrupted, no one else in the theater. Private showing. And this weekend, I would wager that I was maybe the only person in the Capital District who was NOT employed by Regal Cinemas to achieve this little miracle.
So I’ll tell you right off the bat. If you ever want to have an experience like this, get up on Saturday morning and check the local movie theater schedules. Look for the earliest matinee you can find. Odds are that you’ll have enough space for your coat (left chair), your snacks (right chair), and your feet (hang ’em over the chair in front of you, natch).
Now in a couple of weeks when Mad Max: Fury Road comes out…
I’m standing in line with everybody else. That film is one that definitely NEEDS a shared viewing experience.