Thoughts On…Solo Cinema

Note – I originally wrote this in 2016, but with some more solo visits under my belt I’ve revisited and amended.

This week I went to the cinema on my own for the first time.

For some of you this won’t seem like a big deal. You might be wondering why I’m writing about it.

Well for me it’s a big deal. A game changer if you will.

I consider the cinema to be a special place for a special experience. I may have resigned myself to the fact that some people are clearly lacking in decency – with their noise and mess – but I still consider it a social experience. When I was a kid I went to the local UCI with my parents and siblings. Then there was a good six or seven years of seeing a film every week with my best mate. Now I go with my wife or friends. It’s always been a case of watching films together and discussing it after.

Some experiences, such as the joyous “WOOOOOO” when Captain America hears “On your left” crackle over his ear piece, or flying out of my seat when a Raptor jumps out on poor Muldoon, are accentuated by the combined reaction of the audience.

I’m very judgmental in the cinema. Of anyone who walks in after me:

  • Are they going to be loud? Please shut up before the film starts.
  • Ugh, they’ve sat down next to us. This whole screen and they can’t put a few seats between us!
  • Oh dear, look at that guy on his own.

Though the first points have been backed up by stupid behaviour on numerous occasions, the third now just feels rude. I’d always resisted the idea of going on my own. Until now. Jack Reacher wasn’t even a memorable film, but my wife was out for the evening and I knew I’d only end up wasting the evening not doing anything in particular. So I booked the ticket and went along.

I did feel a bit weird walking in on my own but it soon dawned on me that I was making a bigger deal out of it than anyone else. No one batted an eye lid. No one even looked my way.

It all passed by rather…normally. I didn’t suddenly smell or become some sort of outcast.

The only weirdness was going on in my own head.

Nowadays I try not to judge. As an adult with a job and a family, the logistics of actually timing things with friends can be a nightmare. Perhaps that person on their own couldn’t line up the times but really want to see the films. Perhaps they just want two hours to themselves. Who are we – am I – to judge?

I’ve done it a few times now, and it has its place. For me, the cinema is still a social place, but that doesn’t mean I always have to be with other people.

4 Comments

  1. I much prefer to go to the movies on my own. I don’t have to engage in meaningless chit-chat to pass the time, I can have some “me” time, and I don’t get the constant “what did he say?” from my friends who aren’t paying attention. Sure, going with the wife isn’t bad, but sometimes just sitting there by oneself is actually more enjoyable.

    • 99% of my cinema visits are with my wife. The others are with my brother. All people I can trust to enjoy the cinema with. I guess I’m lucky!

      The biggest takeaway is that I wouldn’t dismiss going on my own if it was an option.

  2. I actually do this quite a bit in recent years and I’ve become used to it. Since I go on my own I can ditch the car and challenge myself to cycle to the Odeon and have often done late night rides home (sometimes in freezing weather). I have one memory of cycling home through fog one late night and seeing a badger trundle across my path.

    At first it did feel a bit strange going on my own, there is a “Johnny Not Mates” feeling, but you’re walking into a huge dark cinema hall and normally everyone is absorbed in their own world to notice others.

    • Exactly! You shouldn’t be talking in the cinema anyway, so being on your own doesn’t make so much of a difference. It was mainly on my noggin. I would say that some viewings are better as shared experiences, such as a Star Wars or an Avengers. But most thing, we’d be fine on our own.

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