Ban popcorn and pick ‘n’ mix? Cinemas want to be romantic!

Of course, the sound level depends on the genre. Let me make a drastic generalization: Culture vultures in a movie by the Wes Anderson brothers or Coen will sip oat milk lattes and suck on a cereal bar, while multigenerational hordes will pile up to see Frozen or a Marvel thriller will be weighed in with huge cups of soft drinks (two-thirds crushed ice), crispy finger foods and cheesy nachos.

And this is where I draw the line. Cooked food is a no-no for me in theaters – I don’t mind hearing the crunch of a crisp, but I don’t want to smell a chili hot dog. Also, choose your snacks carefully. Don’t bring popcorn to a horror movie, for example. A creepy track in The Omen (1976) saw me jump out of my seat and my popcorn exploded in at least seven rows.

Since then, I have grown into a caring ice cream pot girl. But I’m married to a salty popcorn addict whose addiction comes with a feeling of guilt. He doesn’t want to be “shut up” so he gets a speed snack before the main feature starts. Often times I “help” by nicking a few handfuls, but I never let him share my raspberry ripple.

Nowadays, small jewel movie houses have adopted bespoke snacking. You can order a carrot cake and a glass of Chablis to bring to the table between your seats. Quiet food and drink! But the growing popularity of small “studio” theaters means that spirits are heating up because you can hear every click and crackle.

My first problems with movie snacks continued when Keith took me to see A Summer Place (1959) in the huge Regal Cinema in Kingston. As soon as I sat down and he handed me Mivvi orange ice cream, I realized I didn’t want him anymore. When the lights went out and Troy Donohue walked through the screen, I mumbled “I’m just going to the bathroom” and stood up.

I actually went to sit in the circle. Keith never found me. I took the orange Mivvi with me, of course.


Conversations from a Long Marriage by Jan Etherington is available on BBC Sounds


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