It seems weird to think that just 2 years ago I had never gone to the cinema alone, when these days I actually prefer it. Not feeling comfortable walking up to the box office, asking for a ticket for one, and then marching up the cinema steps and sit down by myself is a complete mystery to me now.
Going to the cinema is known as a social outing. It’s something you do with friends. Like going to a restaurant, a coffee shop or to a gig. It’s not so much a hobby as it is a group activity. Something to be enjoyed with others occasionally, but it hasn’t always been that way. Housewives used to catch a matinee in the middle of the week on the way back from running errands. And children in the US would watch films by themselves on a Saturday morning so they wouldn’t get under their mother’s feet. But now, especially with the added expense of going to the cinema, movies are an occasional treat.
But, what happens when cinema-going is more than a social outing, and you find yourself wanting to go to the cinema more than your friends? To see films they don’t want to see? If going to the cinema is merely something you enjoy doing and it’s not a passion, it’s understandable not wanting to part with the high prices of cinema tickets on a regular basis. But when you find yourself out of friends to watch Wes Anderson’s latest jaunt, you’re going to have to go it alone.
I do remember my first trip to the cinema alone, very well in fact. It was spring of 2013, late afternoon on a Sunday and I’d just said goodbye to my then-boyfriend at the train station. I had a free evening, I was already in the city centre, and I was going to watch a film that no one else wanted to see. This was most likely because of it’s average and unfortunately accurate reviews but I was going to watch it alone.
The time in question…
It was the forgettable Promised Land (2013) of all films. An anti-fracking activist film featuring the talents of Matt Damon and directed by Gus Van Sant. Not really a film that the average film fan would just have to see and would even go alone in order to not miss it. I vaguely remember having a packet of bourbons in my bag to eat during the film, but I could be mixing that up with a different time. Me eating biscuits in the cinema is not an infrequent occurrence. The cinema wasn’t full by any means, but then it rarely is at the AMC in Manchester.
And you know what? I survived. You know what else? I’ve never looked back. Don’t get me wrong, I will happily go to the cinema with other people and enjoy a great discussion about the film afterwards. And I look forward to ranting about any anti-social cinema goers, but going to the cinema alone is not something that anyone should feel insecure about. Not doing what you love because you’re afraid of what others will think of you is not an option, and cinema going should be included in this.
Going to the cinema alone gave me the proverbial ‘balls’
Since then, I’ve just gotten ballsier with my lone cinema activities. It doesn’t even occur to me to feel insecure or that going to the cinema alone is odd. I recall sitting and waiting for Philomena (2013) to start when some projection mix up meant Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) started playing. I look at my ticket and look around. No one else is moving.
I don’t want to make assumptions about the kind of audiences that see certain kind of films, but this was not a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 audience. So I decide to get up, and check the screen number outside. Yup, I’m in the right screen and there’s been a mistake. I summon up my ‘Oh HEEEELL no’ attitude. I tell one of the supervisors and in a few minutes the correct film is playing, and I’m back in my seat, victorious.
What it’s all about
I’m not the most confident or bubbly person. Nor am I the kind of person to complain in restaurants or speak out. Mainly because unimportant, passing inconveniences don’t bother me. And as a lone, female cinema goer, I can imagine that once upon a time I would have sat there, watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 with the rest of the passive and pathetic audience who wouldn’t say anything, or prayed that one of them would get up and tell the staff. But I didn’t, because at the end of the day, I was NOT watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to watch Promised Land on that Sunday evening, because it kills me to think about all the fantastic cinema experiences I could have missed out on due to silly little things like lack of like-minded companions. And if any of this resonates with you, a film fan who perhaps hasn’t found the courage to go it alone yet, I would urge you to. The sky will not fall down and the earth will keep spinning. Once you’re sat in that dark room and the 21st Century Fox theme starts to play, it’s just you and the movie. And no one else in the cinema matters anyway.
Are you someone who partakes in going to the cinema alone? Does it liberate you or make you feel nervous?