Twenty films in, seeing a new Marvel movie at the cinema has become a ritual. Everything is planned out like clockwork and done with the same feeling of fevered excitement.
Every action is unconsciously molded by Hagerstand’s theory of space and time in geography. The constraints of capability, coupling, and authority guide its logistics. Each of these factors contributes toward a shared social experience, elevating patrons beyond mere ‘spectator’ status.
The sacred rite of Marvel-Movie-Watching can be understood in my most recent experience watching ‘Spiderman: Far from Home’.
My roommate, my friend and I chose the closest location, Wollongong Cinema. We were so keen (as always), we HAD to go on the opening day—but were forced to choose the evening time slot because we were all busy during the day.
Every time, we arrive at least 40 minutes early. We park next to McCabe Park to avoid paying in the centre parking-lots; my roommate drives because I don’t own a car. We do this because Wollongong cinema is very popular and doesn’t have assigned seating. Being early allows us to be first in line outside the cinema door.
This aspect of the ritual relates to ‘capability’. My movements were limited by the lack of local cinemas (a physical factor) and the willingness of my roommate to drive us only so far (an environmental factor).
The next part of the ritual is the candy bar. On this one occasion, we scored $9 tickets, and I also got my usual packet of overpriced peanut M&Ms (the tour-de-force of cinema snacks).
Once we’re stocked up, the real wait begins. We camp in front of the door, marking our territory at the front of the line. I use the bathroom twice to prevent my bladder from forcing me to bail out of the 2-hour 9-minute extravaganza early. (The twice part is a tried and true method.)
The ticketing relates to ‘authority’ held by the cinema. They own the screening and can, therefore, allow entry only whom they choose. The aspects of lining up and taking a bathroom break relate to the constraint of ‘coupling’. They establish ideal conditions for myself as I will need to be ready for the movie to begin at a specific time, and prepared to be there for a length of time there-after.
We rush in once the doors open. Our seats are always near the front—in the first row after the door. Far enough back to see comfortably and with no view of the door lights or people entering/exiting.
Nobody talks during this movie. The only motions are hungry hands pinching up more popcorn. The only sounds, our laughter and cries in unison as the movie hits the right chords of emotion.
We don’t simply watch the movie, we are enveloped by it; together.