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What Does It Take To Get You To See a Movie Twice In the Cinema?

Going to the cinema is expensive. In fact, it’s been getting progressively more expensive these past few years, which seems to be a contributing factor in steadily decreasing theatre attendance. (The behaviour of fellow patrons and lax enforcement of basic cinema etiquette might be another.) Still, there’s something inherently romantic about a trip to the cinema, seeing the lights go dark and the images projected on a big screen, as they were intended to be seen. While a home cinema system offers its own perks, there’s just something inherently appealing about the real deal. Last Friday, I had the pleasure of seeing Cabin in the Woods with my better half – the second time I’d seen the film. I very rarely double-dip on cinema trips, but there were a variety of factors that alleviated my guilt. What does it take you to see a film more than once in a cinema?

Cinema is a cottage industry...

I’ve remarked before that the second viewing of a film can be something of a revelation, and that it can cause a viewer to reconsider (or reinforce) their original opinion of a work. I’m lucky, I spend a lot of time with my family, and they’re all fans of movies. If a movie is good, the odds are that I’ll see it in the cinema and see it on blu ray at home a few months later. In most cases, that’s more than enough – I’ll watch the film at home time and again, but I don’t mind waiting for the release of the blu ray.

This week, for example, I’ll be picking up David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo four months after seeing it in a cinema. I’m looking forward to diving into it again, and I’ve been prowling the local HMV waiting for its release, but it never occurred to me to see the film twice in cinemas. And I say that as somebody who liked the film much more than most fans seem to. So it does take a lot to get me interested in seeing a film twice in the cinema, even if I’m enthusiastic about it, because there are a lot of reasons not to see a film I’ve already seen in the cinema.

They were really drag-on their feet on getting this to blu ray...

Part of it is obviously price. I’m a bit all over the shop, so I don’t have one cinema I frequent – so loyalty cards and schemes are of limited use to me. Still, money isn’t the deciding factor, and it isn’t what keeps me away. After all, if I like a film, I’ll try to support it by picking up the blu ray of it – although my shelves look to be on the verge of collapsing. A cinema ticket and the associated snacks come in well under the price of a disc, so it seems a bit hypocritical to argue cost. (Although for a date night, it’s much of a muchness in terms of price.)

Time is the bigger killer. It seems like I don’t have enough hours in the day to see everything that is being released, even if I confine myself to the major releases. There seem to be three or four films coming out each week, and I have a hard time keeping on top of them as is. It’s tempting to see a film I know is good, but I always feel a bit lazy for not taking a risk on an unknown property. I’m still a little frustrated I haven’t found the time to see The Cold Light of Day or The Raven, despite the fact that nobody’s ravin’ about either film.

What prompts a second trip?

So those are the two reasons I’m generally reluctant to go. However, there have been occasions where I’ve seen a film more than once in the cinema. The most obvious situation is that a friend or relative wants to see a film I’ve already seen, and I’ll generally accompany them. I saw J. Edgar and The Guard twice for this reason, and I would have been happy to take my better half to see Shame again, if she wanted. However, that’s a bit of a cop-out, because it would have been rude not to.

I will try to make a return trip if a movie isn’t necessarily doing as well as it deserves to do, financially. After all, paying for a ticket is a far more meaningful show of support for a film than declaring loud-and-clear that you love it. My internet keystrokes don’t have that much of an impact on the bottom line, and that in turn feeds into whether a movie is considered a success or not, which in turn determines the influence it will have on future films. This was part of my motivation to see Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods again last weekend, because it’s a film that hasn’t done nearly as well as it deserved to do, despite being one of the best films of the year.

Shakin' it up a bit...

There’s also the experience of it. Some films will lose something in the translation from a giant screen to a small screen. If a film is good enough, and I suspect that that will be the case, I don’t mind paying to see it again. I’m not talking about Transformers: Dark of the Moon or even Battleship. I’m more considering something like the last third of The Avengers, which I am looking forward to catching on a three-storey cinema screen some time next week. I’ve never seen anything on a screen that large (we don’t have an Imax in Ireland), so I’ve been waiting for an appropriate film to test the format, and I think Whedon’s superhero epic might be the one.

It might be an issue of timing, as there’s been nothing yet shown on the Odeon’s iSense screen I’d care to see again. I liked Titanic 3D, but one three-and-a-half hour screening every five years or so gets me through. Although I will freely confess to seeing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight twice in cinemas, if only to be sure that my first opinion of it hadn’t been something close to fanboy-ish delirium, and also because I feared that it would lose something in the translation to the small screen.

I already know how it ends!

So what about you? What films have you seen more than once on the big screen? And what are the factors that influence your decisions?

12 Responses

  1. Good question! I saw “The Artist” four times because everyone I knew wanted to see it. I got something different from it each time. I am the biggest of Clint Eastwood fans and saw “Gran Torino” five times before buying the DVD and I have now seen it about five times at home. I adored “Hereafter” (which I think is a fan club which has me and Clint’s family in it) but wasn’t so thrilled by “J Edgar”. That makes me think I should get the DVD and try it again. “Moon” and “Source Code” deserved several viewings as I really appreciate Duncan Jones’ way of looking at life. And my “today was bad; time to lift my spirits” choice is always “Local Hero”. With Mr Trump trying to build a golf course and business in a Scottish beauty spot, that now seems to have been a prescient film. It’s such an adorable and funny and clever movie and really stands the test of repeated viewings. There are times when the DVD changes my mind. I like most of the Coen brothers on repeat viewings, but I rarely enjoy those in the cinema. I could watch the original Frank Capra “Lost Horizon” forever. I have no idea how often I have seen it, but I always love its pacifist gentleness and Ronald Colman’s excellent performance.

  2. Also saw The Dark Knight twice (mainly because I had a friend who wanted to see it, and I had already done so). I think that it did lose the chilling atmosphere created by the Joker somewhat when translated to a small screen, though no less a great film.

    Only other films I’ve seen in the cinema twice are Harry Potters’ 1 & 2. I guess main influencing factor is if I know someone that wants to watch it and if I thought that it was great first time round. But pretty much always see a film once, chiefly because of time issues!

  3. I saw ‘Black Swan’ twice. I had to see it again, because that film improves on the second viewing (or so I have been told). I would see ‘Shame’ again and again and again, but probably if I were alone in the theatre or something! lol That film is a masterpiece

  4. I’ll see a movie repeatedly at the theaters if it gives me an experience that is thrilling and keeps me excited after walking out of the cinema. Of course, this applies mostly to blockbusters, because smaller dramatic films are fine to be seen on the small screen. Big action plays best on the big screen. Certain comedies work better in the theater as well, because you get the audience’s reaction that makes the experience better. Essentially, I want to relive the fun that a great movie gives me, but a second viewing in the theater also lets me sit back and relax and enjoy it a bit more because I’m not caught up in the film as much.

  5. You’re completely right, some films lose something in translation. On the purely base level, films like Transformers do lose something. Huge fighting alien robots just don’t have the same impact when their miniature on your television screen. There’s that “amusement park ride effect” which makes certain elements of those films larger than life as they should be. (And now Universal Studios: Hollywood is opening a Transformers themed ride and rightfully so).

    Last year, I saw Melancholia and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol twice in theaters. Melancholia blew me away the first time, with the most overwhelming score I think I’ve ever experienced in theaters. I have since seen the film on blu-ray and the score just doesn’t shake your seat like it does in the theater. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was simply amazing in theaters on IMAX. The skyscraper scene is effective on-screen and that just doesn’t play out the same on a TV screen.

    I venture to the theater almost every weekend and for multiple films. I’m sure there’s countless reasons I go so often, but the main reason is that I hate films being ruined for me, either by someone giving away an ending or by hyping the film too much. I like to see films on a clean slate and normally that involves seeing it before the mass majority of people. But you’re completely right, theaters have gotten way too expense. How much is a movie ticket in Ireland? In Hollywood, on average, a ticket is $12.50 plus tax.

  6. I actually do see a fair number of films twice in theaters. Just last year the repeat offenders were: Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part Deux, Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, Drive, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Bridesmaids, Super 8 and X-Men: First Class.

    It’s all pretty much based on how great the experience of watching them in theaters was. Huge tentpole films like Super 8 and Mission: Impossible were obviously heightened by the impact that seeing in a big screen had on me that I don’t think would be replicated on blu-ray.

    Other films like, to keep talking about 2011 releases, The Descendants and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, were obviously quite good but one go at it in theaters is more than enough to tide me over until the blu-ray’s come out which, as you say, ends up being a far more affordable option.

  7. Great post! I very much respect you for seeing a film again in the cinema to make the box office rise and hopefully get the suits in Hollywood to make more like the film in question.

    For me, there’s plenty of films I’d watch again in the cinema but I’ll probably only go if I can convince someone to come along with me who hasn’t already seen it. There’s no way I could get my partner to come to see anything with me twice!

    I HAD to see Fight Club twice on the big screen because it blew me away and is still my favourite film of all time. I also saw Speed a couple of times in the cinema and I think my Mum took me to see Home Alone more than once too! All films I love! I also had to go and see the 3D release of Titanic as I’ve been waiting 15 years to see that again on a big screen! And it was worth the wait!

  8. Don’t get me started! I love going to see favourite movies more than once on the big screen. Hmmm, let’s see. I think the record might be Die Hard (the original, of course) which I saw 9 times at the cinema. I lived in Brussels at the time and they had a really huge screen at Kinepolis. Even the loos were cool, made to look like Hollywood dressing room doors, each cubicle named after a different star. That was a proper cinema. Awesome.
    When I was working in the City, Monday night was cheap prices at Leicester Square. I would happily sit through second viewings of films. I used to get excited just seeing the THX logo and hearing the cool noise that came with it.
    More recently, I have seen Avatar 3 times on the big screen (and a few more times at home). We saw it locally when it came out and then at the IMAX, just because, and then we treated ourselves to seeing it at the IMAX again when the longer version was released. Star Wars, of course. The Big Blue. Several of the Harry Potter films. The list is long. Why? Just because nothing beats that big screen blockbuster experience, lousy cinema etiquette notwithstanding. And I can’t even say : ” A cinema ticket and the associated snacks come in well under the price of a disc”. It costs a lot to see a film and buy snacks over here. A very big lot. At least it reduces the problem of lousy etiquette a little. When you’ve paid that much you really want to watch the movie. I have to say I have walked out of cinemas in the USA because the movie was being ruined by all the folks who couldn’t sit in their seats for more than 10 minutes without needing to go pee or buy some more snacks or something… .
    Great post BTW. Glad I found your blog.

  9. I am itching to see Cabin in the Woods again in the cinema, and part of my want to do that is the same as you – just help boost that box office a bit more. Maybe go with someone who hasn’t seen it. Spread the love!

    Time is a big factor in seeing a film for a second time at the cinema. Especially when there are loads of films on I want to see. It sometimes makes me feel like I’m “wasting” my time not seeing something new instead.

    I remember seeing Serenity at the cinema …. 5 times. Maybe 7. A lot of them were press screenings, previews and a premiere. Then I think I saw it twice where I actually paid for it. For that… I was just a pure fanatic. Desperate to see it as many times as I could within a small amount of time.

  10. I’ve seen Aliens something like 6 times (four on it’s original run and 2 at some fests) Terminator 2 possibly 4 times. The Abyss 3 times. The Matrix at least twice. A lot of these films were before widescreen VHS (never mind DVD or Blu-ray) and home cinema systems. Now that I have a decent set-up I’ll see a film and wait to buy the blu-ray if it’s exceptional I’ll go again. There’s something great about seeing a movie at the cinema,I do love the Savoy 1 and do make a point of seeing a film there. Even the new Isense screen hasn’t taken the crown from it.

  11. Good question. I suppose it really just depends on how a film hits me. I saw The Dark Knight in theatres around seven times, Inception three times, and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol twice. But those were just fun movies I would watch again and again.

    With films like Shutter Island and The Fountain, I watched them in theatres for a second time because I felt the need to re-analyze them and make sure I felt like I understood the films in their entirety.

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