A band of a few hundred intrepid, brave filmmakers continues to successfully defend their box office dominance as millions of moviegoers relentlessly descend upon them. The movie 300 is raking in huge profits (it has the largest March opening EVER). I managed to catch a matinee showing on opening day. The movie impressed me with its visuals but buried me in enough ponderous cheese to prevent me from fully enjoying the depictions of Sparta’s romanticized struggle against the Persians.
But the best part of the showing was not the cheesiness of the movie itself, but the jankiness of the local movie theater. My first mistake was showing up without cash - I bought the ticket using my debit card, which is a long struggle with their sole card-swiper which verifies your card in the time it would take to walk to an ATM and return with cash. Happy to receive my ticket with a few minutes to spare before showtime, I braved another purchase at the concession stand. Of course, they had to use the same slow card-swiper up front where I bought the ticket, so the clerk bounces merrily off to run my card through the torturous queue-increasing card-swiper. Meanwhile, folks behind me were curious over the disappearance of the clerk. “Where’d she go?” “They only have one card swiper.” “Oh.”
After passing their first test of customer patience, I walked towards the big theater. Above the door was the marquee, the title 300 emblazoned in bright LEDs. I walked into the rapidly filling theater, sat down, and endured the second test of customer patience: Annoying Commercials. Then something odd happened - a preview came on for 300! “Hmm, they are showing me a preview for the movie I’m already watching.” OK. Maybe I stepped into the wrong theater. Wait, no. I know for sure it said 300 outside. I chalked it up to MPAA stupidity (see? they’d rather sue their customers than market to them properly) and settled in for another 300 minutes of trailers.
Then, the third test of customer patience began. The title music for the feature began to swell. I think to myself, cool, Sparta’s getting ready to kick some ass. Then, a voiceover started talking about a “ghost rider.” Wait a minute. GHOST RIDER??? NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! My anticipations of Sparta glory died as the title credits for Ghost Rider appeared.
“I should’ve used a soothing gel with my razor.”
“You primitive Spartan screwheads are no match for FIRE and MOTORCYCLES!”
Half the theater got up to walk out. A theater lackey outside spoke up and said, “Go back in! We’ll fix it.” We shuffled back inside and sat down, entertained only by a paused frame of fire from Ghost Rider, and the assortment of audience reactions to the switcheroo. About ten minutes later, the screen went black, and I thought, “wonderful; we’re going to get another half hour of commercials and trailers.” Luckily, the title credits for 300 appeared and all was right with the world.
This comedy of errors was as entertaining to me as the movie.
Ephialtes says, “I don’t know his name, but his face sure does ring a bell.”