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The Problem With Assigned Movie Ticket Seats -OR- Rubbing Up the Wrong Way at the ShowPlace Icon

I went to an advance screening of Hanna tonight at the ShowPlace Icon, and while I liked the movie a great deal, the theater experience went from pointlessly silly to downright annoying.  This would be the second time in a row I’ve had a bad experience with reserved seating.

The way advance screenings work is you show up a half hour or so early, get in a line and they eventually let you into the theater.  So I get to theater early.  The first floor entrance is really just stairs and an escalator bank.  As I walked in the door I was asked if I was there to see Hanna.  I was told the holding area upstairs was all full, so could I just stand there and wait at bottom of the escalator.

Um, OK.  So I wait, and they have to flag down everyone, determine who’s there to actually pay to see a movie, and then shunt everyone else into this secondary line.  Unless you’ve got friends who are upstairs, in which case you can go upstairs, yell at them to get you tickets, and then stand off to the side.

And of course you’ve got a loud foursome who refuse to get in line until the last minute and then insist in being the first ones.

Nice and organized.  Not particularly fast either.

When the line finally started moving, I saw the two reasons they ran out of space:

1)      There’s practically no lobby until you get behind the ticket taker.

2)      You know that roped off area in front of every movie theater ticket counter?  They were pushing the line through that.

The ShowPlace Icon, it seems, is a theater with the gimmick that every ticket is an assigned seat.  The general idea being you can pick out your seat and not have to rush to sit down, I guess.  This is a preview.  I fail to see why you need to assign seats to the first 200 people to show up, when you can just count how many people you let in.  This is what normal theaters do.  Or, if someone were to use common sense, if the seats are assigned, just print the tickets early and not worry about a line.  You might even sell a few more concessions if people get their assigned seat and need to kill some time.

A very silly way to start the evening.

So I get my assigned seat.  The last time I got an assigned seat for a movie was an IMAX showing of Avatar and I had Bubba the Georgia Prison Guard sitting next to me, his massive love handles flowing over the armrest between us, right onto me, and nowhere for me to move to in a sold out show.

I find my seat and the first thing I see is that there’s food in it.  The second thing I see is there’s part of woman in my seat.  Bubba was a little guy in comparison.  His gut was just flowing over the armrest.  This woman was so wide, the armrest was up and was behind her back, not under her arm.  No, this is not a body builder I’m talking about.  Holy Kevin Smith, Batman!  I don’t think she could actually fit into a single seat and those thighs were much further over the line than her arms.

While I can fit in a single seat, my shoulders are something like 43 inches wide.  I’m slammed all the way into the armrest on my other side, so as not to be in a full-torso version of the Vulcan Mind Meld with my large neighbor (who seemed to be enjoying her popcorn), so you know my opposite shoulder is going to be encroaching on the seat next to me.  Just not much you can do about it.  Sold out show (as it were) and no place to move to, especially with two annoying young ladies unsuccessfully trying to convince everyone with a seat number that the seats weren’t assigned when they didn’t like where they were sitting.

So the person sitting next to me turns out to be a young lady who seems a little freaked out that my shoulder was encroaching.  She switches spots with her boyfriend and then its super cuddle time.

And there I am, trying to make my body smaller, pushed out of my seat and nudged towards the cuddle zone.  For about two hours.

This is just not how you enjoy a movie.  Two times in a row, assigned seats have let me down.  I’m thinking I might not care for a third experience.


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