Okay, now that we’ve gotten that pesky Top 10 out of the way (by the way, kudos if you actually made it through all 6,700+ words... though if you simply scanned the titles, that’s cool, too!), we can delve into my archives and explore the ins-and-outs of my 2012 movie-going experience. As you may know, I keep detailed records of this stuff, including binders full of ticket stubs, spreadsheets and notes in my daily planner. My dear friend Suzanne calls this the most harmless & endearing form of OCD ever. Who am I to argue?
I went to the movies 175 times in 2012 -- by far a NEW PERSONAL RECORD, beating last year’s total (which was also a record at the time) by twenty. This includes 172 different movies, as I saw THE HOBBIT twice and TITANIC 3D (ahem) three times. This also includes 144 official 2012 releases and 31 movies from past years. Additionally, this marks the 12th consecutive year in which I saw 100+ movies on the big screen -- which I’m not even sure counts as a milestone anymore, so much as a given -- but clearly, my movie-going habits have now gone completely off the deep end. How? Why? Let’s take a look.
I saw my first movie of the year on January 6th (PINA 3D at the IFC Center) and, obviously, steamrolled from there… though believe it or not, I was actually behind 2011’s pace at the end of January. That changed in February, where I saw 17 movies compared to 12 in 2011. How the hell does one see 17 movies -- one of my highest monthly totals ever -- in freakin’ February, generally a slow month?? For me, it had a lot do with my Oscar obsession, as I had to catch up on a bunch of docs, foreign films, animated fare and shorts before the big show. The spring and summer months were all typically relentless and huge -- and I saw my 100th movie of the year (THE BOURNE LEGACY at the Ziegfeld) on August 17th, nearly a month ahead of 2011’s pace.
In September, I went nuts with another 17, thanks to a rash of free screenings and some high quality releases, including two that made my Top 10, THE MASTER and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, plus one -- LOOPER -- that just missed (it also didn’t hurt that I saw the complete INDIANA JONES quadrilogy on one epic September day). October featured the biggest decline from the previous year (14, compared to 19 in 2011). At the risk of turning this blog into a psychiatrist’s chair, this was because I spent much of that month at home, wallowing in post-breakup self-pity. (Also, Hurricane Sandy shut down the city for a few days, but that had minimal effect.) Fortunately, I soon remembered that I could wallow in self-pity at the movies, too, and came back with a big November. And then in December, I did everything I could to escape the loneliness of the holiday season with an astonishing 23 movies in 31 days -- by far a record for a single month. My yearly record-breaking 156th movie occurred on December 6th (a free screening of HYDE PARK ON HUDSON). Two days later, I watched the complete LORD OF THE RINGS: Extended Edition trilogy in one 13.5-hour sitting, which is noteworthy for its sheer madness (and awesomeness). My annual Christmas Night Movie tradition continued for the umpteenth straight year with LES MISERABLES at the Ziegfeld -- maybe my favorite big-screen experience of the year. And I saw my 175th and final movie of the year (PROMISED LAND) on December 30th. Whew!
Want to read a funny quote from last year’s “by the numbers” post?
Now, never say never, but I’m fairly certain THIS record will not be broken so quickly. For one thing, I will likely make a conscious effort to cut down a bit in 2012. Don’t worry -- I will still see a TON of movies. But the fact is, seeing 155 movies actually got kind of draining towards the end! So my plan this year is to see slightly fewer movies BUT write about them more frequently and promptly (as opposed to the end-of-month recaps I did last year). So it should be a good trade-off. We’ll see if I stick to that!
Clearly, that entire paragraph was rendered moot, as (a) I saw more movies than ever, and (b) I reviewed fewer movies than ever and stopped blogging altogether in April. I’m not going to bother making any such predictions this year. Maybe I’ll see 200 movies in 2013 and write about all of them; maybe I’ll cut down and write nothing. Let’s at least hope for a happy medium!
That said, I hope I can count on you loyal readers to get on my ass if I seem to be getting lazy....
• Full price admissions: 52
• Free advance screenings: 45
• MoviePass: 17
• IFC Center member discount: 18
• Free passes/awards programs/gift cards/etc.: 36
• Discounted marathons: 7
Some very telling statistics here, which answer the age-old question of just how the hell I’m able to see so many movies in New York City, where most regular-price admissions are in the $14 range. As you can see, I only paid full price for 52 movies, which means that nearly 70% of the movies I saw were either free or somehow discounted. That, I think, is pretty impressive. My free advance screenings were down from last year, but it didn’t matter because it was more than balanced out by two major factors. First, I was a card-carrying member of the IFC Center, which got me discounted tickets for every movie I saw there (plus occasional freebies, as well as free popcorn and stuff). This was great because (a) it was financially sound, and (b) it spurred me to go to the IFC Center way more often and see more art house fare than I may not have otherwise seen. Win-win!
But without a doubt the biggest and most significant movie-related occurrence of the year was that I was introduced to MoviePass.
I first heard about this service -- wherein you pay a monthly fee and can then see unlimited movies per month, like Netflix for the big screen -- a while ago, but it seemed too good to be true... and in fact, theatre chains rallied against it and it never took off. But then they tweaked their business model: Now, what happens is, you check-in to a theatre on your smartphone, choose your showtime, MoviePass deposits the full admission on your personal MoviePass card that you then use at the box office or kiosk, like a regular credit card. You can do this up to once per day for any regular (non-3D, IMAX, etc.) movie, at any theatre that accepts Discover cards. It is ingenious and has, so far, worked flawlessly for me since I started using it in October. In the billing period from 11/23 to 12/22, I saw 7 movies using the service, which, at $29.99/month, means I only paid $4.29 per movie. That’s just... wow.
If you see as few as three movies per month, MoviePass is worthwhile. But for someone who sees as many movies as I do, this is potentially life-changing stuff. I don’t know how long this company will be able to stay in business, but I to use this little red card to the fullest for as long as I can. And I’d also like to try and drum up as much business for them as possible -- to that point, I actually have a bunch of invites to distribute, so if you’re an avid moviegoer and want to give it a try, drop me a line!
Nothing particularly revelatory here. Friday is obviously the biggest movie-going day of the year, though I think this was the first time in recent memory that I saw fewer Friday movies than there are weeks in the year. Monday is low because it’s a big TV day, between HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and GOSSIP GIRL (the latter of which is now, mercifully, over). Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are big days for advance screenings; plus theatres are generally less crowded, which is always a plus in NYC. Surprisingly, I saw twice as many Saturday movies in 2012 as in 2011 -- not really sure why that is, though the aforementioned Indy and LOTR marathons probably didn’t hurt. And Sunday, of course, is a lazy day for Netflix, my own DVD/Blu-Ray library, or whatever.
MY VARIOUS HOMES AWAY FROM HOME
Loews Lincoln Square: 34
AMC Empire: 34
IFC Center: 23
Regal E-Walk: 18
Loews 34th Street: 11
Landmark Sunshine: 10
Lincoln Plaza: 8
Ziegfeld Theatre: 7
Munroe Film Center: 7
Loews Lincoln Square IMAX: 4
Regal Union Square: 4
Angelika Film Center: 3
Loews New Brunswick (NJ): 2
Paris Theatre: 1
Walter Reade Theatre: 1
Village East: 1
Clearview Chelsea: 1
Kew Gardens: 1
Loews Kips Bay: 1
Loews Village 7: 1
Regal Hadley Center (NJ): 1
Magic Johnson Harlem: 1
United Artists 64th & 2nd: 1
Very surprised about the dead-heat between Loews Lincoln Square and the AMC Empire. Before running the numbers, I would’ve guessed that I’d seen way more movies at Lincoln Square -- but in retrospect, that may just be because I saw more memorable movies there, including LINCOLN, THE MASTER, THE HOBBIT, ZERO DARK THIRTY, SKYFALL, CLOUD ATLAS, BRAVE and many more (plus I just like the theatre more). The Empire, meanwhile, is a few blocks away from my office, so it’s ideal for those immediately-after-work showtimes (which also explains the high numbers for the E-Walk and 34th Street). Check me out, seeing 23 movies at the IFC Center with my shiny, happy membership card! This is up from only four at that theatre in 2011, so it has been pretty damn significant. I re-upped my membership for 2013, so expect lots more IFC experiences in the coming year.
Glad that I was able to make it to the glorious Ziegfeld seven times, but that should’ve been higher, especially since the Ziegfeld needs our help. Seriously, NYC readers: If you want to see a movie and it’s playing at the Ziegfeld, please go out of your way to see it there! Meanwhile, I only saw 4 movies on the giant, 80’ x 100’ IMAX screen at Lincoln Square, though three of them were huge extravaganzas that I deemed worthy of the $20 admission: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, PROMETHEUS and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (the fourth was a free screening of TO THE ARCTIC 3D... go figure). The Sunshine and Lincoln Plaza were my main art houses for stuff that wasn’t playing at IFC. The Munroe Film Center is awesome, but the Walter Reade Theatre is the true gem of the Film Society of Lincoln Center: A huge auditorium with a classic feel -- I saw HOLY MOTORS there and it was very fitting. After somehow not seeing any movies at the lovely Paris Theatre in 2011, I at least got my ass over there once last year, to see THE INTOUCHABLES (P.S., did I mention that I won an iPad because of that movie?). Three movies at the Angelika, a crappy theatre that I don’t mind as much now that I can use MoviePass there! Not-particularly-convenient Village East, Village 7, Kips Bay and UA 64th & 2nd always seem to sneak in there once a year or so apiece. I visited the Magic Johnson theatre on 125th Street for the first time in years (to see WRATH OF THE TITANS) -- it is pretty generic and unimpressive, but I should probably go there more often, since it’s the closest theatre to my apartment in upper Manhattan. I also schlepped all the way to the Kew Gardens Cinema in Queens because I had a free pass to see SOUND OF MY VOICE (another amazing film that just missed my Top 10); it was a very cool little theatre, decorated with old movie posters and art and well worth the trek.
I saw 19 double-features in 2012, which, yes, is a lot (this includes three over the final weekend of the year when I went on a mad movie-watching blitz). I wish I could say that some of the more interesting pairings were done for specific thematic reasons, but for the most part, they were products of sheer showtime convenience. That said, there was one that WAS intentional, which amused me greatly (and it’s not an obvious one, like the double-dip of Pixar) -- can anyone pick it out?
- CHRONICLE and KILL LIST
- BULLHEAD and GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE
- CHICO & RITA and THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY
- WANDERLUST and UNDEFEATED
- 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH and THE RAID: REDEMPTION
- TO THE ARCTIC 3D and BULLY
- WALL-E and TOY STORY 3
- SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED and LOLA VERSUS
- TO ROME WITH LOVE and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER
- COSMOPOLIS and THE BOURNE LEGACY
- SLEEPWALK WITH ME and COMPLIANCE
- THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER and LOOPER
- PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 and SINISTER
- TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN, PART 2 and ANNA KARENINA
- THE LONELIEST PLANET and RUST & BONE
- ON THE ROAD and THIS IS 40
- MONSTERS, INC. 3D and DJANGO UNCHAINED
- WEST OF MEMPHIS and THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE
- NOT FADE AWAY and PROMISED LAND
...and the triple-features....
- TRISHNA and FAREWELL MY QUEEN and MAGIC MIKE
- KILLER JOE and THE CAMPAIGN and CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER
...and the butt-numbing marathons....
- Oscar-Nominated Documentary, Animated & Live-Action Shorts
- INDIANA JONES Quadrilogy
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS: Extended Edition Trilogy
I was fortunate to attend lots of special screenings that included pre- and post-show Q&As with stars, filmmakers, etc. Some noteworthy appearances were James Cameron (TITANIC 3D), Drew Barrymore (BIG MIRACLE; incidentally, she is just as cute in real life as you’d expect), Daniel Radcliffe (THE WOMAN IN BLACK), Karen Allen (INDIANA JONES marathon), Ezra Miller (WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN), Mike Birbiglia & Ira Glass (SLEEPWALK WITH ME) and Christopher Nolan (special IFC Center screening of his debut film, FOLLOWING, at which he probably incepted the whole crowd with some form of trickery). I also attended a red carpet premiere of DREDD 3D, which was attended by Karl Urban (Eomer!) and Olivia Thirlby. But the coolest of all was when I saw THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN and got to meet & chat with Pam Beasley herself, Jenna Fischer, and her husband Lee Kirk. Fun!
I was also a veritable social butterfly in 2012, as I went to the movies with 18 different people on various occasions. The most frequent partner, of course, was my now-ex-girlfriend, with whom I saw 15 movies. I was also joined by my friend & neighbor, Jess, for seven movies, which, funnily, were all butt-numbing epics: TITANIC 3D twice, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and the INDIANA JONES quadrilogy. Jess & I were also joined on five occasions by her husband Joe, and once by our friends Katie & Emily. I also saw three movies in NJ with my longtime movie buddy, Jill. Other companions throughout the year were Alyssa and Dara and Samie and Katrina and Isaac and Frank and Justine and Jay and Amy and Michelle and Ryan and Regina -- if any of you fine folks are reading this now, I salute and thank you!
Granted, when you add it all up, I still saw 144 movies all by my lonesome, which, once again, is a new record. But that’s okay -- whether I’m by myself or with friends, whether it’s a huge Hollywood blockbuster or a tiny indie gem or a steaming turd, whether it’s something that makes me laugh, cry, exult or rage, I just flat-out love going to the movies, and I’m excited to begin another year of this madness. As my late grandfather would have said, may the best of 2012 be the worst of 2013 -- if that holds true in the world of cinema, we are in for one hell of year!