Over the weekend I went to see a couple movies. I don’t get out to see movies in theaters that often, so in addition to the films themselves (JoJo Rabbit and Parasite, respectively) being excellent and well worth the time and money, the experience itself was a treat. Last year I saw two films in the theater, this year I’m on track to hit about four, maybe five. Every time I go, I’m reminded that experience of just going to the movies is about more than the film you’re going to see. It’s about a holistic, shared experience.

Some parts of that holistic, shared experience are more powerful than others. Here is the definitive list of the individual components that make up the movie-going experience. . . besides the movie.

7. The Weather

While not technically a part of the film going experience, the weather is often a deciding factor in whether or not to go in the first place. A good flick on a rainy day is awesome, but if it’s so rainy you drown on your way to the theater, not so much. Plus, the weather has a big effect on. . .

6. The Commute

This is the part where if you’re going with friends or a partner, the person most interested in the movie can give interesting facts about the director, stars, and other movies the aforementioned have been involved in.

“Oh! I liked that one,” they might say. “I expected it to be way weirder, but it was actually a lot of fun!”

“Great, then you’ll probably like this,” you respond. Afterwards, on the commute back, you can confirm or deny said conversations.

Do not have these conversations with yourself aloud and alone on the bus, however.

5. The Haircut of the Bored Ticket-taker

Didn’t you see them at the one show you made it to this year? They looked so happy, with their friends, oblivious to everyone who passes through their halls of cinema. You did not say hi, because their highlights drip with disdain.

4. Complaining About the Snack Prices

The price of snacks at the movies has increased incrementally. This has been duly noted by everyone from Your Dad to Your Friend’s Dad to Everyone’s Dad’s Favorite Comedian. Your Dad is right, though, going to the movies is expensive when everyone wants popcorn and red vines and giant pop and maybe some kale chips because this is an indie theater in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and no one around knows what they want from a theater experience.

However, the outsized prices are ultimately a force for good; they provide something you can agree on with the Dads and Comedians and Aunts. Especially if you forgot before going in that the film you suggested was ultimately a full throated endorsement of socialism with several very explicit scenes of bestiality (THEY WERE A METAPHOR, MOM) and now your family won’t let you pick a movie for the next five years.

3. The Couple Making Out In Front of You

Ah, the classics.


Give it to me. In all it’s gross, buttery, greasy, finger be-fouling, stomach-destroying glory. In all it’s aisle cluttering, grease smearing awesomeness. There are people who don’t “like” popcorn. They may be healthy, interesting people. But they are also wrong. So very wrong. Popcorn is good, and eating it while you watch a movie is good. You just have to make sure it lasts past the. . .

1. Previews For Coming Attractions

I love the previews. For one, they take a lot of pressure off the commute, providing a time buffer that lowers general stress levels. They also let me know which films I’m going to intend to make it out to before ultimately settling for watching via Netflix on a tablet. And thanks to the current studio practice of producing 5 minute previews in which every character, plot device, twist, and showcase scene is revealed, I’m essentially seeing 8 movies for the price of one! Pretty much already know how Star Wars is gonna end, just saying.

More than makes up for the price of the snacks.