I want to express my deep alarm at the newest trend in theaters: extremely comfortable seats.
This trend, which happens to coincide with my entry into late middle-age, strikes me as a deliberate ploy by the theater conglomerates. They know their audience — from babies to baby boomers — and they know how to extract the maximum cash from them.
To get into the younger generation’s pockets, of course, they roll out lots of animation (my last two movies have been “Inside Out” — that one about all the emotions rolling around in that little girl’s head — and “Minions” — the backstory of “Despicable Me.”) The kids in their 20s and 30s respond mostly to massive destruction (earthquakes, climate change disasters, etc.) or dire futuristic scenarios where everyone fights with bows and arrows, rides around on flying horses and/or is blue.
My wife and I are selective. Now and then, a movie comes out with a lovely plot, like “Saving Mr. Banks” about the making of Mary Poppins, “The Book Thief,” “Walter Mitty” or the one about those two cafes in France that were across the road from each other “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” But those kinds of films are rare in the summer.
When it comes to popular fare, I admit, I like the Avengers, mostly because of Iron Man’s caustic wit. They provide more than enough massive destruction. And “Lord of the Rings” filled my fantasy quota — I couldn’t even make it through the endless sequels of “The Hobbit.”
And there’s the rub. At today’s prices, if I pay to see a movie I want to actually see it. Now that they’ve put in these ARMCHAIRS that allow you to kick up your feet and lie back, that’s about to become a major problem. The last two times I’ve been in a theater, it’s been one with those wide, soft seats.
And it’s been a $12 nap.
I really can’t tell you how that little girl got to the point where she ran away from home while the emotional bowling balls were jettisoned to the dumping ground up there in her head. And if they developed Sandra Bullock’s evil character in the Minions movie, I missed it. When I dozed off, they were hitchhiking to Florida for a convention. When I woke up, they were in London and the little guy was shouting “KING BOB! KING BOB!”
I liked that part. I just wish I knew how we got there. But the @#$&*! chair was too comfortable.
Think about it: You got up, did your chores, then drove to a mall. Maybe you ate lunch in the food court, milling endlessly past the free sample ladies, or walked a few miles past Foot Lockers, Victoria’s Secrets and kiosks with cases for your iPhone. You rode escalators, watched the grandkids in the play area, tried to count the coins in the fountains.
After all that, you’re tired. You’re full. And the theater is cool and dark.
Full, tired and cool is the trifecta for moviegoers my age. Toss that into an overstuffed chair in a darkened room, and what you get is SLEEP. It’s inevitable. It’s church without the disapproving looks.
They know that. Somewhere in a tall building, a team of youngish people in business suits were in a meeting room, drinking coffee and studiousy pondering my generation’s demographic when they lit upon this concept.
“I’ve got it!” Biff said. “Let’s lose about half the seats in the theater — they’re usually empty anyway — and put in naugahide La-Z-Boys. We’ll sell the old geezers a ticket, and they’ll sleep through the movie!”
“Yeah!” Mitzi replied. “They’ll see just enough to make them want to come see it again.”
“And the second time, they’ll need MORE CAFFEINE!” Trey yelled. “Concessions! Ka-CHING!”
I have to admit, it’s working. I just hope they disinfect the naugahide after every feature. All that drooling…