The Weekly Moviegoer - What Do You Do When the Movie is Over?
by Christopher Campbell
November 10, 2009
What do you do when the movie is over? The last scene has played, the credits have begun, the lights have come up, maybe you clapped, maybe you read the credit scroll to the end, you exit the auditorium and then… Because you are reading a movie blog, I presume you like to discuss movies, but where do you go for the discussion, and how long does it last?
Despite the fact that I write about movies, I feel like I don't talk enough about a movie -- immediately and with real people -- after seeing it in the theater. Sometimes a friend and I will exchange a few words about what we liked and disliked before going our separate ways, but this hardly counts as real discussion. Yet once we've been pushed through the theater's exit doors with/by the wave of departing moviegoers, and the security guard has told us we can't loiter outside, it's just easier to head home than find a nearby bar or café in which to continue the conversation.
In recent years it has been common for new cinemas to include bars and cafés inside the theater, though it's my understanding that people typically take advantage of these spaces only prior to their viewing of the movie.
One particular non-new arthouse theater in New York City comes to mind whenever I think of the missed opportunity with cinema cafés. Partially functioning as the theater's lobby, this café is situated so patrons make their way through the space on their way to the auditoriums, but after the show people are directed out of the cinema without easy or encouraged access back into the café.
I understand that it's in a theater's best interest to get moviegoers in and out as quickly as possible, ushered like cattle, in order to avoid crowdedness and loitering (the latter especially an issue for suburban multiplexes where kids might hang out), but it could also be beneficial to keep some patrons at the theater following the movie, especially if there is more money to be made.
I would love to see more new cinemas built with a bar or café that sits off to the side of the rest of the theater, something that is more accessible -- though not exclusive -- to the post-screening crowd. One thing, however, must be understood: prices for drinks and other items can't be of the exorbitant sort charged at the concession stand. Otherwise there's much more incentive to just head out to another bar or café or to head home.
The idea would be favorable to couples on dates and groups of friends, but there would also be the appeal to single moviegoers to potentially meet new people. See someone interesting at the bar who just came out of the same movie as you? What an easy icebreaker!
Also, theaters could weekly devote a night to special discussion events in which a host leads a discussion in the bar or café following screenings of a particular new release. Kind of like what goes on with post-screening Q&As, only without the interview portion. Of course, people these days are less social, at least in public forums, and it may be difficult to get many moviegoers talking about what they think of a movie right away with and in front of strangers.
Perhaps this explains the apparent failure of another NYC arthouse, which used to have a bar off to the side of the cinema partly for the purpose of post-screening discussions. Closed down over a year ago, the space where the bar used to be is now being renovated into two new auditoriums.
The city is different, though, because there are so many other places to go when you exit the theater, and that cinema's bar never felt too inviting of communal discussions, anyway. Maybe a similar model would work better in a less urban area, where people are more interested in interacting with their fellow moviegoers.
If your local cinema had a place available for and devoted to post-movie conversation, would you take advantage of the space? Or, are you more apt to get out of and away from the cinema as quickly as possible?
Angelika Film Center photo courtesy of Arancia Project on Flickr.