Note: I went to these movies during the week of July 11th-15th.
Movie theaters can leave one oblivious. A movie theater is the first date with the one you marry, or the one that got away. It's surprise outings with your parents when you are kid that you still remember twenty-five years later. It's the only place where you can enter when it is light, time bends, you have no awareness of the outside world, and when you exit, night has fallen in your absence. Sometimes the world outside of the movie may need a little more attention paid to it.
The memory of these places has been on my mind a lot lately. Movie Theaters are now built more as recliner showrooms than movie houses, but I long for the movie theaters of my youth. Some are still plugging along, more or less. Others have been (likely permanently) lost to the sands of time. Over the next few weeks, and perhaps intermittently if other inspiration will not be sated until a post is written, I will be exploring the older, perhaps less-loved movie theaters of this town I call home. Join me, won’t we?
For this week’s entry, I ventured farther than I have or will for these entries, to Sand Spring’s Cinemark theater. Of all the houses on this list, this is probably the one I went to the most growing up, as my grandparents lived in Sand Springs while I grew up, and outings to “the show,” as Grammy would—and likely still does—call it.
Movies I memorably saw here in the past:
Addams Family Values (1993).
Star Trek: First Contact (1996). After my parents picked me up from the screening, I called it “the best two hours of my life.” They laughed and said that I was “young, yet.” I’m still not sure I get the joke. Two hours?
For some reason, I have the strongest memory of seeing the Joe Pesci/Danny Glover stinker Gone Fishin’ (1997) during a summer (not unlike this one) that I committed to the idea of seeing everything that came out. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that J.J. Abrams wrote it? Look it up.
I have some vague recollection of seeing Batman Forever (1995) there during its particular summer. It may have more to do with a much stronger memory from the same period of being stuck in line at the concession stand while staring at the character poster of Robin from the film, which to this day appears as if Chris O’Donnell really wants to punch everyone in the face.
I’m pretty sure that the last movie I saw there was Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000). I saw it with Chris Moore and Bill Fisher. Chris insisted it would be cheaper to see it there. Even then, it felt like a bit of a schlep to make the trip. Later that year, my grandparents moved away from Oklahoma. Outside of this blog series, I haven’t had a reason to go there since.
I didn’t even know it was going to rain on July 14th. But, in the attempt to get to the end of my little movie theater travelogue, I ran out for an early matinee.
Of all the theaters I returned to, this one seemed to have changed the least, and in a truly surprising turn of events, I bought my ticket while still outside of the premises. Inside the doors I saw the crane game that I had a legendary run on in the summer of 1997. My grandmother may still have the Jurassic Park mug that I acquired from the highlight of my career.
The only thing to have changed since the last time I was there is the neighborhood. In days past, the Sand Springs Goldie’s was located caddy-corner to the theater. It’s long gone. The local K Mart was just down the road, and it recently closed. The entire shopping center has that neglected feel that I’ve come to notice surrounding most of the older theaters. If the burger joint were still there, it might have stayed my theater of choice for the past fifteen years.
By this time in my adventures, the thought of another bag of popcorn to accompany me in my escape from reality makes my stomach turn. Having just had breakfast, I opt to avoid all of the available concessions and suffer through the movie unsalted, unhydrated, and uncaffinated. Its fine; the theater is cool enough, and the seats have been upgraded in the fifteen plus years since I was last there. Also, there was going to be more than enough water by the end of the morning.
The movie was fine (more on that later) and the projection system is the same just-too-bright and just-too-clear digital projection that I’ve railed against in other entries. The movie also took place largely in Hawaii. During the course of the screening, I thought I heard thunder and figured bad weather would somehow figure into the film’s plot. It never came; I put it out of my mind. I probably shouldn’t have.
This is part of the problem and wonderful thing of the times I have spent in movie theaters. The world melts away. Those rows of seats and the images flickered on the screen exist outside of time. You can avoid most anything in there. Sadness. Worry. Violent storms.
Which is why I missed out on most of the storms of July 14th. The thunder in the movie was real thunder! Never even occurred to me. On a fun note, my car was emerged in about a foot and a half of water. So the end of my moviegoing experience ended with me wading into lake Sand Springs to get to my car. It feels like, even a month later, that my brown shoes* are still wet.
Oh, yes. There was also a movie involved in this little outing:
I saw Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. As my week progressed, I definitely moved out of the arena of movies I wanted to see, but hadn’t gotten the chance to see, and moved into the territory of “Well, I’m already at the theater, I might as well see something.” I may have laughed a handful of times, but if you saw the trailer, you probably laughed as much as I did. It was another example of perfectly talented people phoning it in, maybe just for the free trip to Hawaii. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Zac Efron has been elevated from “man in stock photo” to comedy star.
The Sand Springs Cinemark is a nice place. Clean, cool, with good prices and amenities for a first run theater. Worth the drive, if you are in the mood, but I would caution you: the parking lot is secretly a crater and becomes a massive body of water after any degree of rain.
I bring the series to a conclusion with the final theater I visited in my week off, before I also offer some thoughts about the theaters I could not visit because either a) they’ve been lost to the ravages of time or b) it’s hot as balls out there.
*I own one pair of brown shoes and one pair of black shoes. When I wear them, their lace are never tied. Deal with it.