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A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: One Ticket, Please: The Art of Going to the Movies Alone

Going to the movies has — for the most part — always been a social activity. It's a place to take a date or to burn some time with friends or family. But what about the solo moviegoer? What about the diehard cinema fan who won't let an unwritten social code stand in the way of boldly saying, "I'll take one ticket, please"?

I applaud this person.

Also, I am this person. And maybe, you should be too.

For me, it started about a year ago with Looper.

Rian Johnson's time-travel film had been out about a month. I devoured the trailers multiple times and read a number of positive reviews. Ultimately, I knew this was one I had to see on the big screen.

So, on a Monday night I decided, screw it, I'm seeing Looper tonight. With no friends interested, I decided to pull the trigger on the solo trip, my first time venturing into a cinema without backup. I didn't know what to expect — ridicule from the teen at the register, mock laughter from the kids waiting in the popcorn line, Bruce Willis shaking his head at me when I entered the theater? Then again, maybe I would just be left alone. Maybe I'd encounter a lone woman moviegoer. Maybe this would be the start of our story. Maybe this would be a life-changing decision. The possibilities seemed endless.

None of this happened, of course. My life didn't change either. But that doesn’t mean this wasn't a straight-up awesome idea.

Now, keep in my mind, this trip to the cinema was on a Monday night, several weeks after opening weekend … I think you may know where I’m going with this.

I took a seat near the back of the theater — not the very back — a couple rows from the back. That just seemed more natural, I guess. I proceeded to act like I was waiting for someone. I'd check my phone (nope, no texts) or check my watch (note: I wasn't actually wearing a watch, but I think I still nailed the effect). From there, I moved on to answering movie trivia. It turns out this isn't as fun when there is no one there to impress. Plus, they asked a bunch of Katie Holmes questions. It was weird.

It was just before the theater doors closed and before the trailers started rolling that I realized no one else was coming. It was just me and Looper.

Being the only one in the theater wasn't embarrassing (should it have been?). For the most part, I embraced it. I even left my phone on (no theater selfies though). And not on vibrate either (I believe the term you’re looking for is "rebel").

Overall, the experience was enjoyable. I saw an awesome movie, didn't have to pay for another ticket, and was able to bolt out of the theater. Of course, I did race out of my theater without my coat, leading to an awkward moment of going back into the building, telling the person out front what happened, then lurking back to my personal theater room to grab my forgotten clothing. As I walked back into the theater, I realized no one there cared about what I was doing. They were just finishing up a shift or recalling the movie they just saw. So why should we, as solo moviegoers, care?

After this event, I still brag to people how I had a theater to myself. I recommend it as much as I recommend sneaking candy into the theater, which I highly recommend (purse-style for those with purses, giant-hat_style for everyone else).

As it turns out, a lot of people I know have gone to the movies by themselves. I'm talking people of all types too — socially-skilled people, attractive women, nerds, cool nerds, even the editor in chief of Popculturology. I have a new respect for these people too. They don't let things stand in the way of what they want. And it's a great conversation starter. For example, does the movie still play if no one shows up? How often does this happen? If I'm alone in the theater, is it cool if I start dancing in the aisles?

You don't need a group of people to accompany you to something that — in its very nature — is an insular experience. Why miss out on a chance to catch Gravity in 3D or to see why the Ender's Game movie almost certainly is worse than the book?

Readers, who else has ventured alone to the movies? Any fun single moviegoing stories? And anyone who hasn't tried this, give a shot. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Contact Scott Pukos on Twitter at @scottpukos.
A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: One Ticket, Please: The Art of Going to the Movies Alone Reviewed by Scott Pukos on 11/08/2013 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Great story, Scott. Can't wait to read more.


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