Again within the Nice Melancholy of the Thirties, folks discovered escape from the dangerous information of the day by going to the films. Actually, I can’t depend what number of motion pictures — Sullivan’s Travels, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Matinee, Cinema Paradiso, simply to call a couple of — are about folks going to the films for leisure and escape. Folks stood in line and rushed to get their favourite seats; first come, first served. You’re a part of a pair who’re each comfortably making six figures? You’re paying off a university mortgage or attempting to make it in your Social Safety advantages? Doesn’t matter. You’re entitled to the very best seat you possibly can wrangle.
Even when theaters started promoting advance reservations, it was nonetheless first come, first served — in the event you needed to see a preferred film and also you have been choosy about your seats, you went on-line and tried to order your most popular place earlier than any individual else received it.
However now, at sure AMC theaters (and maybe, within the close to future, at an increasing number of different film theaters), it is not going to be how rapidly you declare your seat that may decide the place you sit, however reasonably, how a lot you possibly can afford. As of immediately, in keeping with AMC, a brand new technique referred to as Sightline will, in keeping with its weirdly promotional web site, “proceed to make motion pictures higher.” How? By charging extra for the Most well-liked Sightline Part (the mid-center rows), much less for the Normal Sightline Part (the seats within the again or on the aspect), and significantly much less for the Worth Sightline Part (entrance rows).
I can perceive why AMC feels the necessity to do that. Theaters are nonetheless affected by the results of the pandemic, and over the past three years, folks have turn into used to watching motion pictures on fairly massive screens within the consolation of their houses.
However the result’s that one of many final actually democratic public establishments the place everybody paid the identical and had the identical probability to get a great seat, will be part of airplanes, dwell theaters, music venues, and different establishments, the place how a lot you possibly can afford determines how effectively you take pleasure in your expertise.
Maybe I’m being too nostalgic right here. It isn’t as if standing in line on a cold, wet night so as to attempt to get a good seat in a theater was such an uplifting expertise. (Though I bear in mind the primary time I noticed Star Wars in a theater — I received there about two hours early, was concerning the tenth individual in line, and handed the time having a fantastic dialog about previous sci-fi movies with the folks round me.) And since theaters have been charging further charges for reserving seats forward of time, it might be mentioned that they’ve already been on this path for some time — in the event you didn’t need to pay the additional charge, you needed to take what was left.
Years in the past, I used to be visiting London and went to a theater to see a musical. I had seats within the balcony, and through intermission, I tried to go downstairs simply to see what the sight line was like from the orchestra. However once I tried to seek out the orchestra part, I spotted that there was no method I may acquire entry — the theater had been constructed at a time when the folks within the low-cost seats have been fastidiously refrained from the sight of those that may afford higher seats. After I requested one of many ushers how I may get to the dearer part simply to have a look, she stared at me as if I had out of the blue sprouted an additional head. It simply wasn’t executed.
Maybe that’s the place we’re headed: film theaters the place individuals who can afford higher seats received’t must cope with lesser mortals who can’t spend that a lot — not essentially as a result of that’s one thing that we, as viewers members, are asking for however as a result of theaters will attempt something to make up the slack, together with creating a brand new class system for the films.