Tuesday, January 3

Harry Potter-The IMAX Experience.

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I took the Friday before Christmas off, in lieu of some last-minute shopping and packing for the trip home. One of my errands that day was to run to the other side of Madison to pick up a gift certificate from The Exclusive Company, one of the better independent record stores in Wisconsin. At about 10am (after SportsCenter and a bowl of Clusters), I hit the road.

The trek to the other side of the city takes at least an hour, round-trip. I had to make this journey alone and without a CD player, as mine was on the fritz due to a massive wiring short in my car. I would later find out from my Father-in-law that it was merely a blown fuse, and it took less than 8 seconds and 25 cents to remedy the situation. I bet he worries about his daughter constantly when he's not around, and I really don't blame him.

I spent most of the trip singing out loud to myself and drumming on the steering wheel. That morning was particularly frigid, so my voice shivered off-key. It was then that I found out I do a very good Bright Eyes impression when the circumstances are right. I made a mental note of it and focused on the road.

Just then, my eyes caught a glimpse of a huge billboard on the eastbound side of the beltline. It was an ad for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I took the Missus to see 'The Gobb' the day it came out, for which she was pleased, but this billboard was a little different. They were going to be showing 'Gobb' at the only IMAX theater in the county.

This represented a moral dilemma in my eyes. Do I tell the Missus that she has the rare opportunity to watch a 4-story-tall Rupert Grint make dumbass faces into the camera for 150 minutes? Or do I keep my fool mouth shut, confident that she's content in just seeing 'Gobb-Gobb' on the little-big screen once in her lifetime.

I gave in and spilled the beans just as quickly as I could, and before you know it, I was attending the 7pm showing of 'Gobble-Gobble' at the Fitchburg IMAX-itorium.

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I had never been to an IMAX theater before; presumably because my Mother was afraid of them. The Missus, on the other hand, was an IMAX aficionado, hitting screens from here to Vegas in her short 22 years on the planet. She gave me a briefing before we got there, just so I didn't puke the instant I entered the theatre.

The show was sold out, which always spells trouble for any paranoid neurotic. To me, there's nothing worse than a sold-out kids movie that's also appreciated by college-aged nerds. It's almost like they're in a heated battle royale to see who can annoy me the fastest. Fortunately, I have the jump on them, as I get annoyed minutes before my ticket is even ripped.

If you've never been to an IMAX theater, imagine a film being projected off of the Washington Monument, while pressing your nose against the first-floor elevator. Oh, and since the action is super-sized, so are the prices. Two tickets to 'Gobble-Tron' ran us $22.50. Throw in a large popcorn, two sodas and some Junior Mints for yours truly, and we're talking close to $40. Add that to the fact that we've already seen this movie once before, and we've pretty much given $75 to the 'Robble-Robble' film franchise.

Before I get into the actual IMAX film-watching experience, I want to share my thoughts with you concerning the movie theatre itself. By following by 10 simple rules, movie theaters can be a much more rewarding and memorable experience for all the right reasons. I like to call it:

"Shut The Damn Hell Up And Sit Perfectly Still: Movie Theatre Etiquette."

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#1 - Charge more for tickets. Double the price, I don't care. Kids and adults alike are going to movies without any intention of even watching them. If tickets were $25 apiece, less fools would show up, and only those who really cared would be in attendance. This would bring more film lovers out of the woodwork to pick up the slack, and the industry wouldn't miss a beat. There are already high-class theatres across the nation that are having much success with this formula.

#2 - With the aforementioned jack in ticket prices, they can do more to make the theatre a comfortable place. Wider lanes, comfier seats and a larger menu could all boost profits. Put in a vertical row every 5 chairs, so losers who can't hold their urine aren't always stepping on your feet and getting in the way. Install tray tables and serve pizza, burgers and fries; they're quiet foods to eat, and nobody will think of hurling them at others, because they will cost $18 each. Again, some theatres are already doing quite well with this shift in consumerism.

#3 - At showtime, the doors lock. Nobody can get in and nobody can get out. If you have to whiz or grab a bag of Goobers, you can leave, but will not be permitted back into the theatre. Screw the 'vertical row every 5 chairs' business, because once you sit, you're not standing until the credits roll.

#4 - If someone 'reserves' a row of chairs by placing personal goods on them, such as coats or concessions, you are allowed to not only take their chairs, but you may also help yourself to their things. In the real world, the concept of 'savie-savie' is strictly forbidden and stupid, and for all intents and purposes should be punishable by death.

#5 - If you applaud or cheer for a trailer or the start of the film, you will be asked to vacate the premises. Your ticket will not be refunded.

#6 - Each chair will be equipped with a motion and audio sensor that measures how many times you shift, talk, stand up or kick the chair in front of you during the course of a film. If you exceed the set number of parameters for your specific chair, it will explode.

#7 - Before entering a theatre, your picture will be taken and electronically linked to your ticket stub, which you will swipe on the armrest of your chosen seat. If you decide to switch seats, talk, answer your phone, or do anything that will otherwise disrupt the experience of those around you, the movie will instantly stop and be replaced by the picture of you. The viewing audience will then have the option to ask you to leave or make your chair explode, depending on the majority vote. They will then be provided with your license plate information and home phone number.

#8 - The MPAA will alter its rating system based on demographics. G,PG,PG-13,R and NC-17 shall now be included with 'Everyone under 21' and 'Everyone over 21.' This will give viewers the luxury to not have to see the film in the company of children or teenagers, or vice-versa. Parents may accompany their children if they are under 13, and alcohol will be served at 'Everyone over 21' shows. Beer will cost $13 a bottle.

#9 - If you are under 13, you will buckled into your seat. If you are over 13 and can't sit still, your chair will explode (see previous rules on chair explosion).

#10 - In between each chair, optional dividers will be provided, much like those used on Jeopardy.

If cinemas would start adapting just a few of these rules into their gameplan, I'm sure they would notice an immediate change in sales and morale.

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We were sitting in a row just behind 7 children all under the age of 5, accompanied by adults who were louder than the kids were. To the left of us, a young couple who fell asleep in each others arms 30 minutes in, and to the right of us were three of the loudest college nerds I've ever seen.

These grown men and women were going on about how cool it would be if theatres introduced 'Smell-O-Vision' into the viewing experience. They were talking as if they had come up with a radical new idea, while the Missus kept muttering, "Polyester! John Waters already did it with Polyester in 1980! Aaauugh!!!" (For the record, John Waters used 'Odorama' as an homage to 'The Scent of Mystery,' a 60's movie that is to this day the only 'Smell-O-Vision' feature in existence. Now you know.)

The best thing about the IMAX is that once the movie starts, it's deafening. Nobody can talk, because you can't even hear yourself think. I remember the usher saying something about 12,000 watts of power, which is large enough to run a small radio station if my math is correct. Sadly, once you get over the fact that the screen is really, really big, it just becomes another movie. Watching 'Gobb-O-Matic 5000' was nice even the second time around, and when the film was over, I was in a much better mood than when it started. I don't know if this had to do with the experience itself, or the fact that I was now stone deaf and blind.

In conclusion, watching a movie on an IMAX screen that's not made specifically for an IMAX screen (like space exploration or natural disaster documentaries), is nothing too special.

However, during the bathtub scene, Harry's nipples were the size of doorknobs, so we all had that going for us.

Man, I wish they were showing The Hamburgler Movie on an IMAX near me.

Several years ago we took my 85 year old grandma to an IMAX theater. It was the first (and last I'm sure) time in her life she's ever been in any movie theater, so she thinks that's what all movie theaters are like. Actually, I'm betting she doesn't remember it at all.

I need to rewatch AD with 3d glasses.
'Stop! Stop...he's already dead.'

If I thought that all theaters were IMAX theaters, I might be a happier, albiet ignorant person. In many ways, I envy your Grandmother.

Of course, if I thought that things were exactly the way that I thought they were, I'd be the happiest, stupidest guy on earth.

I could go on for 10 pages about last night's AD; but I'd just end up crying and shaking my fist to the sky, so why bother? It's times like this that I had my own trophy to send them. These third season episodes have been one of the most insane, irreverant and downright brilliant comedy I've ever seen.

Now that I think of it, I will create my own trophy, and award it to whatever I think is cool. Why didn't you give me this idea sooner?
If only Draco had joined Harry in the bathtub....RAR!
They could have had a naked bathtub fistfight.

Who ends up winning? The fans.
Just to remind you the IMAX theater was showing a movie about flying, which I hate to do. I flew over canyons and oceans and every other scary thing they could think of. I was sick when I got out of that damn show. I thought your ideas about the theatre were great and very funny.
It's funny because it's true.

When I'm elected supreme master and ruler of the universe, there will be some changes, first and foremost at the movies.

A co-worker was just telling me about those 'Omni-Max' screens, in which they are 360 degrees and feature moving seats. She said that people were leaving and throwing up.
I'm afraid your plan of hiking ticket prices won't work. Been to a concert lately? I'm amazed at some of the more expensive shows I've been to where people aren't listening at all to the band and talk loudly to their friends or on cell phones the whole time, even during more quiet acoustic type shows. We should be allowed to murder those people.
See, that's the rage that I feel whenever I'm at a public event of some sort. Didn't these people's parents teach them anything?

I watched a friend of a friend play an acoustic set at a coffeehouse a couple months ago, and his voice was completely drowned out by the crowd talking over the top of him; like he was no more part of the scenery than a plant in the corner. I felt embarrassed for him, especially considering that I was one of the few people listening.

We should still jack up ticket prices for the amenities I talked about, but we should also confiscate all communication devices at the door, and hand out duct-tape for the ushers in case they need to shut people up on the fly.
Coffee shops are a grey area in this respect, I think, since they are built for socializing. I think it's okay that there are places you can go where you can listen to live music being played while you visit with your friends. That doesn't completely let the crowd off the hook, though.
No, they were being unreasonably loud and were standing pretty much right next to the musician in question. And I think the one girl was talking about her goldfish. Why conversations like that have to be nearly shouted, I'll never understand.
Yeah, that kind of crap is rude no matter how you slice it.
The coffee shop argument certainly has its place, as there are sometimes entertainers that play in these places solely for the purpose of background music. No need to keep quiet at a restaurant when the violin guy comes around; he's just musical parsley.

Ooh, remember that 'parsley' line, I'm quite proud of it.

In this case, there was a cover and whatnot, so it was a legitimate show. Also, everyone was silent for the guy who went on before him, so I just felt really bad for this kid.

Aaron happened to have a megaphone on his person, so we really should have used it for crowd control. Some people, I'm telling you.

This is the reason AD is getting cancelled.
I've been to one of those 360 degree movies before. That penguin movie I saw in Chicago was like that. The seats didn't move, though.

No, no...Harry and Draco wouldn't get in a fist fight. Nope, not at all.
I think I went to one of those Omni-Max theatres once in either Toronto or St. Louis. The movie was about the daily life of dolphins and how they screw for pleasure. I fell asleep during it because the seats recline really far back. The movie is like projected on the ceiling. Hey- it's kind of like a planetarium.
Wait, wait, wait. You were watching mating dolphins on a ceiling-projected OmniMax screen, and you fell asleep? That's all I see when I close my eyes; mating dolphins.

Missus, I don't even want to know what you're thinking concerning the Harry/Draco bathtub scene. Perhaps movie #5 will finally be that R-rated romp we've all been waiting for. When does Hermione turn 18 again?
Hermione is the youngest of them all. I think she was born in 1990 or something. The R-Rated romp is not going to involve her at all though. It's going to be total Bareback Mountain concerning Draco and Harry.

Yep, that's the same theatre-type thing I went to. The ceiling is round and they project on it, then the seat lay almost flat on the ground. It's weird.
'Bareback Mountain.' Clever.
I didn't think of it!

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