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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 12.12.08
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Beeramax Pictures presents...

I read last week that certain Cineplex Theatres will start selling beer and wine during screenings. Traditionally, the home-video industry has tried to emulate the thrills of the theatre experience -- wide-screen TVs, stereo sound, high-test lubricant on popcorn. Now it seems theatres are trying to copy the swills of the home-viewing experience. Admit it: who doesn't enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with their DVD (or, in the case of a Steven Segal feature, a six pack or two)?

In fact, VUI (Viewing Under the Influence) helps explain DVD sales. Why would people actually buy their own copy of, say, 88 Minutes when they could (foolishly) rent it once and be done with it? Because, thanks to VUI, drunk viewers don't remember what they've seen and can therefore watch their purchase over and over. Plus, it's good for the economy! Not so good for the liver, though...

So it's not surprising that cinema moguls are considering alcohol in theatres.

A) They'll make money on booze sales, and

B) They'll make money on people who passed out during the last reel and need to see the movie again.

(Free tip: If the movie involves the words "traveling" and "pants," you're not missing anything.)

Looking at this objectively, however, I'm a bit torn. On the one hand, I know the cinema-booze experience can work, having lived it myself back in my high school days. I have a strong recollection, for instance, of sneaking beer into a screening of The Lonely Lady and drinking it through cherry Twizzler straws.

That last sentence, I realize, raises many questions. So let's start at the top:

How could my underage friends and I have obtained beer? I can't recall. I do know that our puffy winter coats with their deep pockets made it quite easy to sneak in to the theatre. Less simple was camouflaging the clinking of glass when one of us invariably kicked over the empties.

Next question: The Lonely Lady? Starring Pia Zadora? Regarded as one of the worst movies of all time? To be honest, I lived in a one-cinema town and there was nothing else showing and it was winter and, oh hell, we had beer and Twizzlers.

As for the Twizzlers, the theory goes that if you drink beer through straws, you get a stronger buzz. We didn't have straws, we had Twizzlers. I now know that there is no truth to this theory, which is another reason I love the Internet.

And finally, yes, I acknowledge that this was irresponsible behaviour for which I am ashamed, and in no way should the above be perceived as an endorsement of Pia Zadora. So on the one hand, it is feasible. On the other hand, this scheme may further diminish the already waning pleasure of going to the movies, a decline that began when theatres started showing advertisements before the previews and continued when people no longer booed those advertisements.

There will be the distraction of people getting up for more drinks, saying loudly to no one in particular, "Where's the pause button when you need one?" and their companions calling out, "Get me one, too. And some Twizzlers."

That's just getting the drinks. Disposing of the drinks, if you know what I mean, is another matter. If you think it's hard to hang onto a Gargantuosity-Sized Coke through three hours of James Bond, imagine the bladder strain after a couple of glasses of Chateau de Paramount.

Cell phone use will increase. How? Imagine this call:

"Dude. It's me. Guess what. I'm havin' a beer. At the movies!"

Noise, fist fights. And, really, aren't theatre floors already disgusting enough?

No, I don't think the industry should let people get drunk at the movies. It's bad enough thinking that the filmmakers must have been drunk when they made the movies.

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