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Whatever Happened to the Movie?

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Movies... one of the few surviving American traditions from the 20th Century. What's not to like? Popcorn, soda and experiencing a good movie in the company of others.

OK... we forgot a few things. In an effort to survive amidst the clamor of new media, cinemas have succumbed to the commercial demon and lost track of their main draw: escapism. We used to go to the theatre to escape advertisements. Now they're everywhere. Even in the movie.

Pre-Movie, Pre-Commercial, Pre-Preview Advertisements.
No, we're not talking about the commercials that precede the previews, but rather the still images that flash on the screen while the house lights are still illuminated. Yesterday LAist watched "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" at Santa Monica's Criterion. We were surprised to see actual commercials interrupt the advertisements. So now, before the movie, you're watching TV commercials sponsored by more commercials.

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TV Commercials
Pepsi, Coke and shoe companies are the usual suspects here. Expect anywhere between 5-10 commercials before the previews. Anti-Piracy Warnings
In a futile attempt to brainwash the public, movie theatres are attacking the already honest, converted masses. After paying $7-12 for a movie, we don't want a lecture about how piracy puts actors out of work. We're already part of a dying breed that actually goes to the cinema. Shove this annoying PSA on a DVD instead.

"Featured" Shorts
Masked as a short film, these promotional vehicles are trite, over the top and so thinly veiled that the only people being fooled are the movie execs themselves. Usual suspects: Moviefone, Fandango and Coke.

By the time previews start, you're usually angry. It's already 15-20 minutes past the official "start time" and you're expected to sit through another 10-15 minutes of previews.

Main Feature
Is it time for intermission now? If you've been sipping on a drink, you need to use the restroom by the time the opening credits roll.

Hidden Adverts (aka Product Placement)
Even if you escape the commercial overload before the movie, you're likely going to see at least one product placement in the movie.

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LAist's advice
If your budget allows, get thee to the Arclight on Sunset ASAP. Sure the tickets cost more, but you're guaranteed zero commercials and typically only a handful of previews (sometimes none at all). Plus Arclight has 21+ screenings which are free of children and cocktail-friendly. Likewise, their membership program lets you accrue points towards a free movie. Arclight is by far one of the best cinema experiences in Los Angeles.

For the budget-wary, Laemmle's and most of the smaller chains also tend to keep ads down to a minimum. They also offer an excellent selection limited release films.

Or... if you prefer to see the movie at The Grove, AMC or another big house, just come half an hour late. You'll likely be just in time for the opening credits. Perhaps if more of us skip the commercials, then movie theatres will get the hint.