Matinee – the past

When I was a child, and maybe a teenager, too, there existed cheap cinema (movie theatre) matinee tickets. They do not exist any more. There may be the odd children's movie that is cheaper, but generally, going to the cinema is very expensive, especially if a whole family is going. I really do not go to see movies that way anymore, since it is expensive, and more importantly, it is too tiring and also painful for me to sit still in a chair for two hours in the noise (many films are really noisy). Just too much for me. There are some film clubs that show a few 2-3 year old films for a bit less. But on the whole, cinema tickets prices are more inflated over time than probably any other consumer product. The movie theatre market is dominated by one big actor here, and the movie companies charge as much as they can.

Apparently, the theatres makes most of their profit on the sales of candy, pop corn and lemonades. As long as people pay these high prices, prices will remain high. The cost of showing movies has partly decreased. Most theatres are multiplexes, decreasing the rate of employees in relation to the number of customers. The digitalization will decrease the cost of distribution greatly. Will that lower the prices? Probably not, it is a market with very poor competition and the commercial actors are more than willing to lean on governments to get their greed fulfilled. What is even the point of paying much to once watch a digital film (with ads), when anyone can do it in their home for a lot less? When you have shelled out a big heap of money, sitting in front of the screen, you are treated with insolent messages about piracy. Imagine going to the food store and just upon entering someone shoves a big sign in front of your face stating: "You are not a thief, are you??". Oh well, we get those messages on DVDs too. But then that branch of the commercial sector despises its customers. Nothing new, and I digress. But then I am a duffer, and that is what we do 😛

It seems at least in the U.S. there seem to be cheaper (less expensive) matinee tickets. This duffer memory of mine is for my own country, Sweden. I do not know the situation in other European countries.

In my childhood and teens, there were only public service broadcasting in Sweden (as was the case in most of Europe), apart from the occasional pirate offshore radio stations that was not liked by the state monopolies. Therefore, the only place to see moving picture or animation advertising was in the cinema. It was exotic and and a small part of the experience. Yes, I know, somewhat sad, even if the memory is not sad, nor is it nostalgic. Now we are of course much more blasé, or numbed, by advertising. Great progress.

When I was a child, there were matinee shows, at least in the weekends. They were considerably cheaper than the regular shows. What is interesting is that they showed old movies. Some, or all, of them probably were shown on tv at some point. On tv there were few newer movies, so I grew up with many classics on teve. For me classic movies are those made before I was born. Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Alec Guiness, those are great classic actors for me. At the cinema the resolution and the sound was very much better than on tv. When I was really small, there was only b/w tv (one channel!), so to see moving pictures in color one had to go to the cinema. Not counting those homemade Super-8 movies etc.

I do not remember how much I went to matinees as a child. The cinemas (three in my small home town) were not within walking distance to my home. I remember seeing the Sea Hawk with Errol Flynn with my father, an old b/w movie from his childhood. I also saw at least one Marx Brothers movie at the cinema. There were probably more, but these two I recall. Sea Hawk was probably rather exciting at times for a young kid.

It must have been before my first age 15+ rated movie, which I saw when I was 10. You could watch those with your legal guardian. I thought it was very cool to watch this very cool movie with cool cars and cool gadgets and cool guys, that wasn't really scary even for my non-dulled sense. I was probably too young to really appreciate the girls in bikinis. I am quite sure I felt J.B. earned me some bragging rights, too. The film was You Only Live Twice. Interestingly it was a few years old at the time I saw it, so not only new and really old films were shown. New films did take a year a or two to go from the U.S to Europe. That intended lag (film copies cost money to make) has largely been killed by the Internet, I guess.


  1. A cinema near us (part of a chain) does a Kids at the Movies event at the start of the month. The tickets were no cheaper but, by combining various discounts and offers we could obtain reasonably priced tickets.

    Inevitably, they have now decided that the discounts we were taking advantage of are no longer usable at the events so when we went at the start of this month, we were hit with the full cost of the tickets. I was quite shocked at just how much it all adds up to.

    So we won’t be going there again.

    All is not lost, though. We have found that another local (and independent) cinema is charging a lot less. The kids are pretty good at sitting through a film these days – especially with the intemission that Belgian cinemas still provide – so we have a new destination for our monthly movie trips 🙂

    I’m trying to remember if we had proper matinees when I was a child. I know I did go to the cinema on Saturday mornings but whether these were special showings or just a handy slot for kids films is lost in the mists of my memory.

    When I turned 15, Blade Runner was in the cinemas. I turned down the opportunity to see this in favour of some long-forgotten action film about the SAS. Fortunately, I was able to rectify this mistake a few weeks later 😉

    • I was a cheapskate, so I bought candy and the occasional drink in a normal store before the movies. Pop corns are messy anyway. I hope my children have forgiven me for my frugality.

      Intermission in films? Not here. Watching the 3rd LOTR film in one go was a pain. In the (moderately) olden days, if the film was very long, there was an intermission. The only time I experienced that, iirc, was watching Kubrick’s Spartacus. I guess it must’ve been in the early 70s. The film was not new.

      Bladerunner I have only seen on a tv screen. But I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? even before the film came out. However, I did not make the connection until a few years ago, when I found the book when sorting out some old boxes with stuff (a hobby I hope I have mostly rid myself of).

      • I probably shouldn’t admit this but we have taken our own biscuits and drinks into the cinema for the kids in the past. These days we tend to not bother at all – you don’t really need a bucketful of snacks when watching a film, and it’s quite nice not having to queue for an excess of overpriced junk food.

        The intermissions surprised me, I have to admit. We don’t have them in the UK but cinemas in both the Netherlands and Belgium include them as normal. We saw all three LOTR films when the third was released – I don’t think I’d have survived without regular intermissions 😉

        • I agree the eating is not necessary. Also the smell is not always nice.

          The intermissions are nice and considerate. I suppose they just do not try jamming in as much film as possible in a limited time 🙂

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