Your Guide to a Stress-Free Christmas Day at the Movies
Dear potential holiday moviegoer,
We hope that this note finds you well and rested. For some, today is a holy day, anticipated with bated breath all year long. For others, it’s a relentlessly nightmarish time where you’re forced to spend time with people you’re supposed to love but may not necessarily like. For everyone else, it’s just another weekend that happens to signify the passing of another year.
However, there’s one thing that binds us all. Whoever you are, wherever you are, movies are bound to be in your immediate future. And since Netflix and chilling may not be an option while your cantankerous aunt and maybe-a-little-racist grandfather play Scrabble in the living room, chances are you’ll be doing it the old-fashioned way: venturing away from home and into a dark crowded theater with hundreds of strangers. And in all likelihood, you’ll be doing it today.
But even if it’s tomorrow, while the rest of your family returns gifts they didn’t want, or New Year’s Day, multiplexing through a hangover, the same issues will arise. Lines. Crowds. Sold-out showings of the one movie you really wanted to see. In order to make your cinematic journey less stressful this holiday season, we’ve devised a no-line cheat sheet for you to consult and consider in times of need. Consider it a Christmas gift from us to you.
Ticketing systems vary from venue to venue, but when in doubt, buy your tickets online. Yes, you’ll have to cough up a minor service fee, but that’s a small price to pay for guaranteed seating. It’s incredibly unlikely you’ll be turned away from a film if you show up with a printed ticket.
Plan, Plan, Plan
If you’re a lone wolf sneaking off to the movies to avoid nauseating familial activities, this next tip may not apply to you. However, word to the wise: keep your massive group organized. This is especially difficult when that group is your family, and your family, like ours, loves to jettison plans at the drop of a dime. Go into combat with a game plan. The closer you can get to military precision beforehand, the higher the odds you’ll get to enjoy the event with decidedly non-military relaxation.
One major way to not have your lovely, elderly grandmother not get lost in the shuffle of people is to bypass concessions. Movie theaters will be enraged, but your wallets will thank you. Take a quick trip to your local Walgreens or CVS, and get your food and drink there. There will be enough people demanding their tickets be teared that no one will notice outside beverages and snacks. Plus, it’s December; you’ve got a coat with pockets. Use ’em.
Target the Off Days
For the next week, theaters are going to be filled with people who go to the movies twice a year; this is an event for them. So avoid the hordes the best you can. A showtime on New Years day is generally going to be more subdued than something on Christmas day. The one downside here: you may have to temper your New Year’s Eve plans to get of bed the next day.
Embrace the Matinee
Ideal showtimes vary from movie to movie, but your best bet is to get there as early as your body (and family) will allow it. Those 11 AM screenings are historically the emptiest, and allow you to come in precisely at the start time. No need to show up early—there’ll be plenty of seats.
Wait For the Dark Side (of the Year)
If you’re a Star Wars fanatic like many of us, it’s likely you’ve seen The Force Awakens multiple times already. That said, if you’re a normal human being whose curiosity has been piqued by the ceaseless press, advertising, and hoopla encircling this latest installment, wait. Patience is a virtue, and the time to see this movie is in a week or two. If you must tread onward, you’ll most likely need to eschew the 3D and IMAX—but at least that’s a little extra money for eggnog.
One surefire away to circumvent holiday madness at the movies is to see the right movies. With the Oscars on the horizon, every studio has decided to make December the dumping ground for their most prestigious titles. Sometimes prestige is just a synonym for hackneyed fare, modulated for the (rich, old, white) Academy voters. Nonetheless, there are plenty of quality picks that you won’t be turned away from: 45 Years, Carol, The Big Short, Anomalisa, and more.
Keep It Small
If madness and mayhem at the movies is not your thing, there are always art houses to pivot to. (Admittedly, as someone who works as a creative director at a smaller theater, I may be a bit biased.) But around the US there are intimate hole-in-the-wall joints that need and deserve your business, replete with programming that you can’t find on Netflix, or even AMC.
Now get out there and see some movies.