Coming Attractions Gone
June 22, 1988. Summer was in full swing. My mom had dropped me off at the United Artists Theaters at Villa Linda Mall—an adolescent destination—and at the box office, all by myself, I bought a ticket to the premier of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
It was a Wednesday. And I was 11-years old.
How we agreed that I, a lone boy in between fifth and sixth grade would be allowed to go see a movie at the mall by himself, I don’t know. It was a different time. A small town. Our country had its first actor in the White House.
I myself also had a taste for showbiz, and loved going to the movies. I watched a lot of T.V. and lived for film previews, carefully listening for their ratings and release dates. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? had implanted itself in my brain, and I likely had worn my mom down to the point where she gave into bringing me to the opener.
Gobbling hot popcorn and biting into leathery licorice in a dark auditorium, all the sounds enveloping me was intoxicating. I made it a point to arrive early, even before the Coming Attractions reel. I didn’t want to miss a minute of the experience.
I suppose going to the movies as a youngster was the closest I would get to being a Hollywood actor myself.
Over time, that fantasy waned, but my love of the movies remained. Even now when we go—or should I say, when we went—I rushed us to the theater to get there well ahead of the start time.
Last week, we tried our best to recreate a movie opener. We downloaded the premier of Scoob!, the latest CGI iteration of Hanna-Barbera’s ubiquitous franchise, and set it up in our backyard on a screen I once used for work presentations.
We popped corn, made salted pretzels. The boys side by side, and my wife and I snuggled in behind them in our outdoor wicker couch.
My younger son got tired, so Mommy took him up to bed. My eldest stayed and we finished the movie. As soon as the credits begin to roll, he got up and said, “Hey, it’s like we’re at the movies.”
He then quickly left me to go upstairs and catch the bedtime wind down. There I was on clean up and take down, a makeshift theater employee, sweeping up after the big night.
The moment of being an 11-year-old kid, sitting front and center in a multiplex theater in the 1980’s is gone. In its place, however, the experience lives on, but in a much more scaled-down, albeit safer environment. Where we once found comfort in the collective, we now relish in reclusiveness.