An Open Letter to AMC

I normally reserve the blog for movie reviews, but I had an experience last night that almost effected my review of Alice in Wonderland. The experience stems from the overabundance of advertising in theaters. My wife and I went to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D at an AMC theater. They listed one of the show times at 7:30PM. We got there about 7:25, got our tickets and found seats, no problem.

Now, I’m realistic about the theater experience and understand that one of the ways theaters generate revenue is through commercial airtime prior to the start of the movie. I normally have no problem with these commercials. However, the amount of commercials this time was utterly RIDICULOUS. There was easily 20 minutes or more of commercials alone (*note – this DOES NOT include trailers which I look forward to). It got to the point where I just wanted to stand up and say “PLAY THE FU**ING MOVIE ALREADY!!!!”, but restraint kept me in my seat. Towards the end of it I was seriously considering asking my wife if she would mind if we left as I was really upset at paying $10 to sit and watch commercials. She also commented on how the theaters hold you hostage to this while you wait for the movie to start – you show up when they advertise the start time for the film and then you’re stuck watching these commercials until they feel like you’ve seen enough and grace you with the actual start of the film which happens seemingly whenever they feel like it.

Going back to the my experience with Alice in Wonderland – when the movie actually started (see my separate review for the film), I felt like the movie wasn’t moving quickly enough in the beginning of the story. After Alice fell down the rabbit hole I began to realize that it wasn’t the movie that caused me to feel that way, but the waiting to get through the damn commercials! I felt impatient and tense after being inundated with the onslaught of commercialism to the point where it effected my perceptions of the film we were there to see. Unbelievable! This experience has me considering whether I’ll continue to go see movies in the theater or not. I think after paying $10 I shouldn’t have to be pelted relentlessly with commercials until the movie starts. I know with television we pay a fee and we have to endure commercials there as well – but with the remote I can change channels or even fast forward past commercials in the DVR, so I have a choice and some control. Oh, and TV shows actually start when they’re listed to start, not a half an hour later like in the theaters.

If theaters are going to continue in this poor line of taste and treatment of their patrons (I’m pointing directly at you AMC), they could at least list that the doors open at 7:30pm with the movie starting at 8:00pm and then actually start the movie at the time it’s listed. Wouldn’t that be a novel approach to theater going? To see a movie that starts when it’s supposed to?

Shame on you AMC for this shoddy treatment of the theater goers who support your company. This treatment of your customers is one of the things that’s killing the theater business and driving people to stay home and get a DVD on Netflix or buy a movie on COMMERCIAL FREE Pay-per-view.

by Sean McKnight