For a while, I thought the last movie I saw in theaters was Uncut Gems—for the second time, at Cobble Hill Cinemas—but this was wishful thinking, or an attempt to fit my memories into a larger metanarrative about early 2020.
In any case, the actual last film I saw in theaters was the science fiction horror film Color Out of Space, adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft story of approximately the same name and starring the one-and-only Nicolas Cage. If you know anything about Cage's career, you can probably guess the type of movie this was: pure B movie schlock, messy, slow, goofy, grotesque, and for some reason halfway through Cage starts doing his accent from Vampire's Kiss, but dialed up to eleven.
I went to see it with some friends at Cinema Village, one of the last truly independent theaters in New York. It’s a tiny, old-school three-screen theater. The screen we saw Color Out of Space on is upstairs, and the staircase comes up through the middle of the theater right under the screen. While it's just two blocks away from Regal Union Square, it's about as far away from that experience as possible; you won't find gimmicks like 4DX at Cinema Village. Tickets are also much cheaper at Cinema Village than at the big chains: an adult ticket is $12 and students can go for $8, while a ticket at Regal can easily run over $20 for the splashiest new releases.
I’m harping on about the specifics because I would do a lot of unsavory things to go to the movies right now, and even just writing about movie ticket prices is soothing to me. A lot of people really miss going to the movies, even though being stuffed into a room with anywhere between ten and a hundred other people, all with different understandings of movie theater etiquette, can be a frustrating, grating night that you’ll pay good hard cash to experience. Not going to the movies has truly broken some people spiritually, as evidenced by this tweet going semi-viral:
I cannot comprehend how seeing a movie in theaters—particularly a film that played on thousands of screens across the US alone such as Interstellar—could possibly be a "flex" on anyone, but I sympathize with the desire to just talk about going to the movies, even if the prompt to get there is absurd. Like this tweeter, I also saw Raw—alone, at Angelika (the theater was mostly empty, with minimal geriatrics, which I guess could count as a niche flex), and I would rather be talking about that than wondering when the next time I'll see a movie in theaters will be, and which theaters will even survive.
An aside: last October, my girlfriend and some friends and I went to Skyline Drive-In in Greenpoint to see Rocky Horror Picture Show. We don’t have a car, but luckily they did have some folding chairs for the walkers among us. I'm not counting this as a movie theater experience—no roof, for one, and by the time Meatloaf showed up I couldn't feel my fingers—but I did at least get to buy some overpriced chips and guacamole from the snack bar. When I handed over my credit card to spend $7 on an anemic serving of dime-sized corn chips and a spoonful of store bought guac, I smiled and thought: Aah, the magic of the movies.