Last weekend I made my first trip back to the movie theater since pre-COVID. I’d been wanting to go see a movie in theaters for a few months, but timing never seemed to work out in my favor. Plus, there wasn’t a sense of urgency in getting to the movies. Since I don’t have cable or spend a lot of time streaming TV shows that have commercial breaks I am not bombarded with ads about the new releases “coming soon to a big screen near you.”

However, when it was announced the latest installment of the Halloween franchise would be in theaters in October, I knew I had to see it on a big screen. It’s part of a tradition that goes back to Halloween: H20, released in 1998. I’m talking the main franchise, not the pair of Rob Zombie remakes that I didn’t bother to watch in theaters. (Don’t even get me started on my thoughts on his vision.)

My mom and I had arrived about 15 minutes before the movie started. Yes, I went with my mom to see this because it’s also part of the Halloween franchise tradition. There were maybe 20 other people in the audience ready to see an aging Jamie Lee Curtis, as Laurie Strode, face the masked Michael Myers — not too shabby for an afternoon showing of a movie that people could also stream from home.

As I anticipated the start of the actual movie, I took notice of a few things. Like, have there always been nearly 20 minutes of previews? It was as if every upcoming feature was blasted across the screen as if trying to drill into the audience that, yes, movies were still going to be played on the big screen.

Before the previews even come across the screen, there’s the commercials. I understand the need for advertising and how helpful it is to have a semi-captive audience. I think I saw more ads featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond than I have seen in the past month and most were about buying a certain brand as opposed to the movie. Is the James Bond franchise more about product placement than actual story? Does 007 take a pause before getting into his car to declare only a certain make or model will do when he’s chasing down the villain?

However, I did notice the floor in the theater was decidedly less sticky than what I had been used to. Perhaps, while the theater was closed, staff did a deep clean of the floor and was able to remove years of spilled soda and sticky treats.

I’m going to admit that once the lights started to get dimmer, the volume started to raise and surround me, and the reminder to turn off your cell phone was shown, I had a sense of anticipation. It had been too long since I’d had this experience.

Sure, I can watch a movie at home, but it doesn’t compare to seeing everything happen on a huge screen with surround sound. Everything seems a bit more heightened – the scares a bit more frightening, the comedy a bit funnier, and the action a bit more hectic. You can see details often missed on a smaller screen.

I don’t know when I’ll take another trip to the movie theater; at the very latest it will be to see the fifth installment of the Scream franchise — yes, another tradition that must be served. But, who knows, something may catch my eye sooner and have me saying, “Let’s all go to the movies.”

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