Let's talk: Is assigned seating ruining the cinema experience?

How much has a night out at the movies changed since you can remember?

Once upon a time, there were newsreels. They were the days pre-television, and the same loop would play over and over again. There were no set session times, so you’d go in and stay until it got back to the spot you walked in on. They generally had a cartoon, a newsreel, and a feature. 

Set session times didn’t really come in until after Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful horror Psycho was released in 1960. People would still just walk into movies at any point, and if they missed the beginning of the film they’d just watch it on the next loop. This would have spoiled the suspense that made Psycho terrifying, so Hitchcock had cinema’s lock out anyone arriving after the film had started, and it caught on. 

Later, we went to the drive in and enjoyed the picture from our cars with friends (or maybe a date!), a noisy, yet fun experience before they died out to become the cinemas we know today. 

Even in the past few decades, a night at the movies has continued to change – but not necessarily for the best. Ticket prices have become so astronomical that a night out at the movies is now a rare treat, and don’t even get us started on the price of snacks. 

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But perhaps the worst change that seems to be taking over now, is the use of assigned seating. A News.com.au opinion piece recently ranted about this trend, really bringing home all the reasons it is so bad. 

For one thing, it seems no one ever sits in their assigned seats. Or rather, there always seems to be someone sitting in your seat, who seems to think that assigned seating is simply a suggestion, leaving you to either argue the point, or meekly find another seat, where you will no doubt be confronted by someone who has been assigned to those seats. It’s a nightmare. 

The other issue is being forced to sit in close quarters with other people. Do you remember when you’d walk in, and search for an empty row in a good position just so you wouldn’t have to sit with strangers?

Perhaps the worst part though, is assigned seating takes the spontaneity out of a movie night. You see, people buy their tickets online well in advance now, taking the “good” seats, so if you think to yourself, “hey, it’s Tuesday, I might go catch a flick”, chances are you’ll be relegated to those seats right in the front, off to the side which make the actors faces look warped, and you basically end up requiring traction to get your neck back to rights afterwards.  

Do you agree that a night at the movies just isn’t what it used to be?