When the theater is packed, it makes sense. Reserved-seat movie houses have eliminated the problem faced by couples or groups of friends going to a blockbuster on opening night. However, this novelty of assigning seats completely backfires for two in the afternoon matinees on a Wednesday.You no longer have to lay out a blizzard’s worth of coats along a row to hold seats for stragglers. No more first dates where you end up sitting five sections apart (this usually happens by the end of my second date). No more bartering with people to move over so you can jam your group into a makeshift section in the first row of the theater. Now you know if you have seats and don’t need to rush. On a crowded night, it’s perfect. But only on a crowded night.
Why have reserved-seat theaters failed to implement reserved seats only when needed and allow movies to be first-come first-serve when the place is empty? Theaters like the Arclight, Landmark in Westwood and AMC Century City need awkwardness protection when you reserve seats.
Maybe the technology isn’t there to sell tickets with some show times being reserved-seating and others being open seating. So what they should do is add some sort of computer program that makes sure that you aren’t sitting directly next to a complete stranger when the rest of the movie theater is empty. Some of us like going to the movies when it isn’t crowded. I have taken days off from work because there are a bunch of movies I want to see and I refuse to go on a weekend specifically because I don’t like other people. When I go to a nearly-empty theater, I don’t want to be told to sit near a stranger.
Does this ever happen to you? If you go to a theater alone or with a friend for like a noon showing on Wednesday? Then you see one other person and you have that, “Oh, shit” moment when you see the stranger make his way closer and closer because that’s where he chose to sit? Learn how to read the freaking computer screen! Red seats are taken, green are available, you moron! It’s not like the place had only one remaining seat for the 1 P.M. Monday showing of Due Date, so you had to click THE ONE RED SEAT and the computer registered you as having to sit right next to me. You are an idiot and now this is uncomfortable for all of us.
What do you do? Do you get up and move one seat over? I prefer turning to the stranger and asking, “What the hell were you thinking?” It is going to be uncomfortable either way, why not try and make him feel as stupid as he is for putting us in this position?
Arclight should simply solve this problem by having all seat selection include a two-seat buffer around any already-reserved seat. Let’s say you and your date go to the movies, when you choose your two seats, you automatically reserve the seats on the other sides of you as well. That way, you can avoid that tremendous awkwardness where you are sharing one cup holder with a person you don’t know.
This is the movie theater-equivalent of when you are using one out of ten empty urinals and a total stranger uses the one right next to you for no reason at all. Except that movie theaters are telling people where to pee.
If it becomes crowded and the mathematical possibilities don’t work, then, yes, you open up those buffer seats. But for weekday afternoon showings? Seriously? I have to listen to some other out-of-work writer throw in his stupid opinion to his fat friend because they don’t know how to read a computer screen? Movie theaters go out of their way for the handicapped, hearing impaired, parents and kids. Isn’t it time that we show consideration for people who want to avoid awkwardness with your shoddily-designed assigned-seat requirements? Keep the discussion alive, preferably not next to each other when we’re strangers in an empty theater.