We may be in a Golden Age of TV, but we’re definitely in a Golden Age of Watching 25 Minutes of a Movie and Turning It Off Forever.
In the era of infinite content, the stakes are infinitely low for finishing a movie on Netflix. As each un-entertaining minute trudges by, the siren song of more appealing options grows louder. You didn’t go to the video store to retrieve this movie. The screenwriter probably isn’t sitting beside you, on pins and needles, awaiting an instant review. Why throw good time after bad?
As cavalier as we’ve become about bailing on movies at home, though, the decision of whether to walk out of a theater, mid-flick, is far weightier. After recently seeing a gaggle of fed-up senior citizens abandon Blade Runner 2049, around the hour-and-forty-minute mark, I decided to ask my Twitter followers about the last time they decided to prematurely eject from a theater.
Quote-tweet with the last movie you walked out of the theater during. I'll go first: King Arthur (2004)
— Joe Berkowitz (@JoeBerkowitz) October 26, 2017
The responses overall reaffirmed the case for mass reluctance in leaving a movie early. Apparently, knowing that there are endless viewing options waiting at home has not devalued the theater experience enough to jolt ticket-holders out of their seats without significant motivation.
Some people described walking out for situational reasons, like a malfunctioning stomach, or a bad date.
Hellboy 2. I was on a lame date, had a massive headache and the movie was boring as fuck. https://t.co/Ejr77K1REj
— Nik Davis (@thedavisdiary) October 26, 2017
The Dark Knight, but only because I was about to become ill. https://t.co/sbCjfmprYe
— Organsmith (@SoMuchMoxie) October 26, 2017
The only movies I can remember walking out of were Saw II and The 40-Year Old Virgin. I only left the second one because my ride was offended and I didn't have another way to get home. https://t.co/PBQXtN4HWy
— Benjamin Howard (@BenHowardOPT) October 26, 2017
Others described situational causes related to the style of movie.
The Bourne Ultimatum. Straight-up had motion sickness from the camera work. https://t.co/u3BnbYy1DH
— Bailey Hemphill (@bailsofhemp) October 26, 2017
"Safe House" – the shaky camera following people around corridors and stairs was too much.
— sjh_canada (@sjh_canada) October 26, 2017
Mostly, though, people responded saying they left the movie because it was just that irredeemably bad.
The Dilemma (2011). Honestly, leaving is literally the only thing I remember about it. https://t.co/S3PRNxVOPj
— Michele Meyer (@michelemeyer) October 26, 2017
Only happened once: Pet Sematary 2 back in college. It was awful. And a really crappy date movie. https://t.co/4VWzTn0mOv
— BDunn (@bdunndunn) October 26, 2017
First and only: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. I was then randomly introduced to the director years later. He was very nice, so I felt kinda bad https://t.co/soDRWOqIql
— Tess Drahman ???? (@tessdrahman) October 26, 2017
Part of the reluctance to walk out is because the movie cost way more than the fraction of a penny each individual Netflix selection breaks down to. Nobody wants to feel ripped off, and the longer they stay seated, there’s a chance the bad-seeming movie could eventually yield a return on investment. Unfortunately, this usually ends up being the kind of desperate optimism that bankrupted the Pets.com people.
I've never walked out of a movie that I have paid to see. https://t.co/YULvX3XW7f
— Cliff Corcoran (@CliffCorcoran) October 26, 2017
I've turned off many movies at home, but don't think I've ever actually walked out of the theater. I paid good money to sit there grumpily! https://t.co/kAzpTeRtOi
— Shannon Ghoul ???? (@deoulism) October 26, 2017
I've never done this because of sunk cost fallacy, but I was *very close* when I went to the midnight premiere of THE LAST AIRBENDER https://t.co/Xf72hZlwfa
— 100 y.o. ghost dog (@logandefreitas) October 26, 2017
A lot of people responded to the tweet, however, to say that they make it a point to never walk out of a movie. Some of them seemed to be adhering to a cinephile’s creed, upholding an oath to the arts to see even the most painful garbage through to the finish. Others just seemed obliged to stick around because of the principle of the thing. They left the house for this, dammit! They’re making an evening out of it, and they’re not going to let some dumb movie “beat” them–as one guy put it.
Never done it, cannot imagine I ever will. Once I went to the wrong screening and still sat through that. https://t.co/C3i3IBMl0h
— Margaret Lyons (@margeincharge) October 26, 2017
I've never walked out on a movie in a theater. I have tuned out several videos over the years. https://t.co/znN4q5cSBu
— Matt, but all spooky (@castlemischief) October 26, 2017
Never. Not even in Tree of life. https://t.co/gteh6sod0v
— monkny (@monkny) October 26, 2017
I have never done this. I would have walked out of Halloween II if I wasn't being paid to keep an eye on the audience for the movie theater. https://t.co/7BaVUo81JE
— Willo-The-Wisp (@whoiswillo) October 26, 2017
All told, the idea of walking out of a movie provoked a strong reaction. What are your thoughts on the subject? Tweet me at @JoeBerkowitz with your hot and cold takes.
In the meantime, take a stroll down memory lane with some of the more eminently walk-outable titles people responded with. (The most common response by far was Suicide Squad.)
Dungeons & Dragons (2000) https://t.co/hart60kAPh
— J (@reallyJSG) October 27, 2017
— Creepy McCrawley (@MikeMcCawley) October 26, 2017
ERNEST SCARED STUPID because my mom decided it was too scary for my little brother. I was 9, he was 6. https://t.co/u0sJQjX5z1
— It's Spooky in Here (@ZeppoMarxist) October 26, 2017
Johnny Mnemonic 1995 (I don’t see many movies) https://t.co/xYno6ZNc4t
— Meth Lab for Cutie (@kiralc) October 26, 2017
Meet Wally Sparks (1997). Not sure what I expected. https://t.co/XEIwToTJaG
— Evan Falchuk (@efalchuk) October 26, 2017
— Ryan (@tugboat31) October 26, 2017
Cadillac Man (1990). I don't get to the movies enough to walk out of them just because they're awful. I mean, I stayed through Highlander 2. https://t.co/hPeo4hbGl8
— EB Wilford (@ebwilford) October 27, 2017