By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

This weekend, I finally got to reacquaint myself with a familiar experience I haven’t done in over a year: Going back to the movie theater.

The Missus and I watched Disney’s Cruella at Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille (I found the anti-villain film decent enough, and better than Maleficent, for my two-second review). It was a very low-key experience where we walked in, got our snacks, and sat down just in time for previews. It was an experience both comforting and surreal, and a reminder how far we’ve come in the last year.

The last time I watched a movie at a theater was in February of 2020, checking out Sonic the Hedgehog at the Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas. The thought of such a weird bookend for a “The last time I….” moment was not lost on me. Sure, I also went to Ennis’ Galaxy Drive-In to watch Bill and Ted Face the Music last summer, but I missed the proper theater experience.

I wrote a piece not too terribly long ago on the site about Corsicana’s old Cinema IV, where I waxed nostalgic about all the memories of spent summers in the movie theater. As a kid, that little four-screened building was my escape, and my first hints of “grown up” independence.

I’ve retained that enthusiasm growing up. I like the shared emotional moments with the audience. I like walking out of a screening and declaring what I just saw as “My new favorite movie.” Admittedly, without that experience in the past year, I felt terribly cut off from one of my personal favorite things.

I’ve missed the season of the “summer blockbuster,” and I groaned as some of the movies I’ve been waiting to see get pushed back month after month (It’s been a long wait to see Ghostbusters: Afterlife). It felt strange seeing big productions hit streaming first instead of the big theater/cozy chair/buckets of snacks experience I’ve so associated movie watching with. I’ve spent a lot of the last year growing out my personal movie collection, so I’m not at a loss for things to watch, but it wasn’t the same.

So the excitement of returning to the theater was not lost on me. I still recognized a few familiar faces working tickets and concessions. I sat in my usual spot in the theater, and the novelty and gratitude of watching a first-run film again was a pleasant homecoming.

I’m aware we’re approaching things again with more of a “Coronavirus is over” mentality, but we’re still not quite back to where we were at the beginning of 2020. But we’re getting there. This felt like a good… a real step back.

With June comes the summer movie season, and I’ll be there. I still don’t know what theaters put in their popcorn, but it always tastes better there.

(I did stop by Schulman’s a few times last year just to buy popcorn. Thanks, Dustin.)

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