“Why is this line so slow?” the man behind me asked his companion.
We were all waiting to buy movie tickets at the Bow Tie Cinemas, a popular multiplex in Manhattan.
“Oh, it’s that new thing where you have to reserve your seat,” the friend replied.
I first encountered this stupid trend at the same theater several months ago.
“What?” I asked then — objecting strongly as a digital screen popped up with the seating arrangement. “I don’t want to do that.”
“Just pick a seat, so I can sell the ticket,” the ticket seller said. “You can usually sit where you want once you get inside.” (Admittedly, this worked, but the theater was mostly empty.)
This time, the ticket seller was not sympathetic when I resisted. He just repeated programmed lines and apologized for the policy.
I finally broke down and hit the screen vowing out loud never to return to this venue. (I hate the reclining chairs that hurt my back.)
After I entered the theater, I had to find my row and my seat. Movies are not live shows with ushers for guidance. What if I’d arrived after the lights went down for the 20 minutes of trailers? Some folks come late to avoid the commercials.
How do you find an assigned seat in the dark? What if someone is in the seat? As I waited for the main feature, I counted about 30 people in a theater that holds about 100. Why was this seat forced upon me? Even worse, what if I’d ended up sitting behind someone tall? Or next to someone talking or texting? I generally take it as a clue that if someone chats a lot during the coming attractions, they may continue during the feature — and I change my seat. Will that option become impossible?
Movie theaters have competition, from streaming devices to services like Netflix, so why add restrictive and undemocratic conditions? I want to select my seat after I scope out the scene and I want to be able to move if necessary.
The argument for this system is that one can reserve online, arrive late and have a good seat. But this requires planning and a convenience charge.
I laughed at the announcement, “Movie-going the way it used to be, only better.” No, it’s not even close.
Kate Walter is the author of “Looking for a Kiss: A Chronicle of Downtown Heartbreak and Healing.”