GHETTO MOVIE THEATERS OF THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, EPISODE TWO

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The Century Theaters 8 in North Hollywood!

I had seen this behemoth rising out of Victory boulevard several times on my way to see my friend Julia in Noho, and always thought to myself — “What the fuck is that??”

A featureless slab of concrete imposing its ass out of the sordid streets of Noho, I mean North Hollywood, since this wasn’t the trendy part of town and thus couldn’t be considered Noho. The whole area looks a bit like the seedy part of old Las Vegas. I couldn’t wait to get in there and watch a film and see how bad it was.

Man of Steel gave me the perfect opportunity to enter this seeming Fortress of Solitude. Question is, would I find solitude? Or would I find a theater packed with rowdy ghetto ass uncouth Valley losers? The reviews on Yelp seemed to indicate the latter.

I dragged my ass out of bed at 9 am on a Thursday, aiming for the Early Bird show. First show of the day 10:55 am, at the heavily discounted price of $5.75. Holy crap, when was the last time you paid under six bucks to watch a first run movie? Probably back in the nineties.

Upon arrival, I saw that the parking lots were behind the theater. Unlike the other arriving drivers, I parked my car in the outdoor lot, which was closer to the theater, and thus avoided the farther and much darker concrete parking structure where, in my opinion, I could get gangbanged, even though it was mid-morning. Also, I figured that when I exited later, I could get to my car faster and could dive right in, in case someone wanted to jump me. LMAO. Parking in the outdoor lot would be a big mistake, as you’ll read later.

What heartened me upon my approach to the box office was that there were two nerdy dudes who could have been Harry Knowles and Moriarty just chilling in front of the theater, talking shop about moviemaking, waiting for their show to start. Wow! Where did they come from? Did they get lost on their way from Hollywood to Santa Monica? I was glad to see them.

In the line inside to buy tickets were a whole mess of people. A huge line at 10:30 am on a weekday – was it the A/C that had brought them all here? Parents and their kids, teenagers holding hands, old ladies and their old men. It was pretty cool.

The theater is divided into an upstairs and downstairs, kind of like a low rent AMC Century City. As my movie was upstairs, I didn’t venture downstairs, but I did take a look down the staircase. I wonder what’s down there. I’m gonna have to find out next time. Next to the staircase was a giant 4 panel posterboard display for Wolverine. Wow impressive! Did Paramount know they were sending this impressive display to a ghetto theater? There must have been some mistake!

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See it in Cinemark XD...whatever that is.

See it in Cinemark XD…whatever that is.

And next to it was a Starcade! Holy shit, this brought back memories of the Disneyland Starcade, that famed arcade in Tomorrowland that housed pretty much every arcade game you could think of and sadly is now just another bland souvenir shop for Star Tours. This Starcade housed an air hockey table, yet another Terminator Salvation shooting game, and…Street Fighter Alpha 2!!! Oh the shiznit! If I had fifty cents, I would have put two quarters in and played with myself!

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Hadoken!

Hadoken!

The escalators in the place were non-functioning and had yellow broken signs on them (probably to save electricity) so I walked up the long staircase, admiring myself in the ceiling length mirrors to my right. My new hair gel from American Crew was working out just fine.

Again, like at the last ghetto theater I visited, I approached my screening room with trepidation. Man of Steel had been out two weeks already. It shouldn’t be in a small ass theater, should it? You never know. I yanked open the doors.

Wow. Palatial. Stadium seating. And armrests!!! $5.75 for a theater with armrests! That go up and down! See, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

I took a seat in the middle middle. There were maybe 4 people in there. Two dudes who were doing the standard “we’re not gay” seating arrangement of leaving a space in between them. A girl in the back by herself. Where was her date? Was she also trying out ghetto theaters in the Valley? And an older dude just down my aisle, chillaxing.

I sat down. The seat was a little thin, but it wasn’t leather or anything, which is good because for some reason, I always slide down those leather seats at the Arclight. Twenty minutes into a movie, I’m halfway down my seat and have to adjust myself. I settled in and readied myself for a good show.

The ads ended, the trailers began. The ads were showing in 1.85 to 1 aspect ratio. When the trailers began, the curtains started to pull aside for 2.35 to 1. They pulled about 2 centimeters to the sides and then — stopped. What the fuck.

The Lone Ranger trailer was being projected onto the curtains on the far left and right sides of the screen. I looked around. Did anyone else notice? Did anyone care? The trailers and probably the movie were going to be projected 20% onto curtains. What the fuck!!! I looked behind me at the projection booth. Did the projectionist see? Was there a projectionist??? Was it some high school kid who had run out of the booth early to make out with his girlfriend in projection booth B during Monsters U???? What the hell was going on???? Why did I pick such a shitty ghetto ass theater to watch Man of Steel???? The Lone Ranger ended. The trailer for the sequel to 300 began. Fuck, I love 300! I saw that twice. I can’t miss this! I sighed. No one else was gonna do anything.

I got up and walked down the aisle. I can’t believe I was so calm about this. Maybe I was expecting it. I walked out the doors into the upstairs lobby to find…there was nobody at the concession stand. I heard a sound and looked over the counter. There was a repairman working underneath the counter. Only his legs were visible. Was he fixing the popcorn machine? He would be useless with projection stuff. So I descended all the way down the long staircase and walked back over to the ticketing counter. Another huge line. I skated past the line and stood next to the ticket seller girl so that she was like totally uncomfortable. She and the manager woman looked at me.

RICH: So I’m in theater 8 for Man of Steel and the trailers are on and the curtains weren’t pulled back far enough, so the sides of the trailers are being projected onto the curtains!!

MANAGER: Is it the real movie or the trailers? Because the curtains will pull back for the movie.

RICH: It’s the trailers. But it’s not the ads or anything, it’s the real trailers. And they pulled back a little already but not enough. Can someone check on this please???

MANAGER: We will have someone check.

RICH: Thank you so much.

The manager started pressing buttons on her computer touchscreen. Did the touchscreen control the curtains?? Or was she calling someone? I turned, crossed the lobby, and went back up the stairs. No, make that RAN back up the stairs. Forget being calm! I wanted Superman!

The new Kessel Run: ticket counter to lobby to stairs in less than 12 parsecs.

The new Kessel Run: ticket counter to lobby to stairs in less than 12 parsecs.

Back in the theater, the trailers were still going. I hadn’t missed anything really except some trailers I can watch on Youtube. I took my seat and waited. Ten seconds passed, twenty, thirty. Did she tell anyone? Or was she pulling my leg? Sure, we’ll check on that hah hah hah suckit Sherman Oaks loser. Then, miraculously, the curtains started to pull back. They pulled all the way back and the screen was no longer obscured. I breathed a giant sigh of relief. Shit, I’m kind of a perfectionist. But really, wouldn’t that bother you? I looked around at the two dudes sitting straight-style and the guy in my row. No reaction. Fuckers.

I eased into my seat. Man of Steel started. What, no Superman theme? Huh. The speakers boomed and the screen sparkled. The movie was great. Except for one thing. The fights could have been cut down by 10 minutes. I mean, how many scenes do we need to see of these guys punching each other back and forth? And in the final fight between Superman and Zod, despite taking place blocks and maybe even miles away from Lois and her Daily Planet people, how did the fight always end up back where they were? Seems very convenient, don’t you think, Mr. Nolan and Mr. Snyder? But these were small things. Great movie.

Great movie experience, except for that curtain thing. No one talked during the film and no one checked their phones. I’m pretty sure the Arclight wouldn’t have had that curtain-not-pulled-back issue, but you never know. People certainly talk at the Arclight, I’ve heard them. This was $5.75. Hell yeah. I made out like a bandit.

Super.

Super.

After the movie ended, I saw a guy in the upstairs lobby, standing next to a cart full of popcorn bags. That was his job, to just stand there all day and sell the bags of popcorn. He didn’t even have a counter to lean on. Poor guy. What a shit job. There are worse jobs though. But that’s a story for another day.

Good theater. Good experience. A little ghetto. But totally worth it. So far, I am batting 2 for 2 when it comes to Valley ghetto movie theaters. Sweet.

Oh yeah, so when I exited the theater, I discovered why all those people had parked in the structure and not outdoors. 1:30 in the afternoon and it was hot as shit! Like 100 degrees. I got in my car and the steering wheel almost fried my hand off. And I had forgotten to put up my sunshield. I zapped on the AC and let it flow for awhile. While it blew, I stared up at the theater’s imposing exterior, a distinctive magenta and blue UFO-like emblem on its side. Pretty cool.

The theater was ghetto, but it had character. Can you say that about the Arclight, about the AMC Century City?

I liked it.

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