Weekend Roundtable: First Movie You Saw in a Theater

It’s time to dig back into the recesses of memory to recount the very first movies we ever saw in theaters. Or, at least, the first movies we remember seeing in theaters. For this week’s Roundtable, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

This week, we also welcome Luke Hickman from The Reel Place to the Roundtable. You’ll be seeing more of Luke around this blog in the near future.

Josh Zyber

I’m fairly certain that the first movie my mother took me to see in a theater was Disney’s sci-fi opus ‘The Black Hole‘. I have no idea why my mother would agree to go to a movie like this. I guess that I must have begged her long and hard enough that she eventually gave in. Those cutesy trash-can robots and the big evil devil robot made quite an impression on my five-year-old mind, but I’ll be honest that not much else did. I’m pretty sure that I saw the movie again on HBO at some point during my childhood, but have not watched it since. At this point, I don’t think I want to. I’m sure it’s perfectly terrible, and I’d rather not sully my hazy memory with something as unfortunate as the facts.

Nate Boss

Holy hell, is this a tough one. Much like Johnny Mnemonic, I gave up my childhood memories in order to add a whopping 80 gigs of hard drive to my brain…which then got filled with porn. Fast. I know I went to theaters long before, but the earliest movie I can actually vividly remember was a trip to the “new” theater (which is now a bargain matinee, in a mall that lacks a single chain store these days) on one of the weekly post-divorce outings with my dad to see ‘Robocop 2‘. Just something about it being the first “adult” movie I got to see on the big screen made it stick, even if the movie isn’t all that great. (And yes, rewatching it earlier this year verified this!) It’s actually rather fitting that this is the one I remember definitively, since it fits my personal beliefs of non-censorship towards the next generation of Boss hooligans. They’re going to grow up on splatter horror, for sure. Nightmares? Ah well, I won’t be the one washing the soiled bed sheets!

Luke Hickman

My first memorable moviegoing experience was an awesome one. It was 1984, I was just under four-years-old, and my old man took our family to see ‘Ghostbusters‘ in a crappy theater in Victorville, CA. I remember being so small that my pops had me sit on his lap (probably because he didn’t want to pay for my admission). The opening library ghost sequence scared me so much that after the initial jump, I never stopping pushing back against him for the entire movie. Luckily, my first in-theater memory was of a classic movie that has held up over the last 27 years.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

The first movie I have a very vivid memory of seeing theatrically is ‘The Black Cauldron‘. Although, since I was six by that point, I’d probably seen plenty of other movies in theaters before that. I remember that my four-year-old sister was sitting next to me, and considering our ages, I’d kind of hope our parents were there with us too. I’m not really sure if I’ve caught ‘The Black Cauldron’ since then or not, but if I have, it’s probably been more than twenty years. For whatever reason, I used to always get that and ‘The Sword in the Stone’ mixed up, so who knows?

My other earliest memory of seeing a movie in theaters was one of those kiddie matinees of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I just remember that when the Cowardly Lion first popped up and was meekly holding onto his tail, my sister loudly asked my parents, “Why’s he holding him’s penis?” which got exactly the type of reaction you’d expect.

Dick Ward

I distinctly remember being four-years-old and seeing ‘Transformers: The Movie‘ when it came out in theaters. I also remember clearly in my head that I was taken out of the movie for misbehaving, then brought back in just in time for the epic fight at the end. This is all crystal clear in my mind. The weird thing is that, according to both of my parents, I was not taken to see ‘Transformers: The Movie’. But since the topic is the first movie I remember seeing in theaters, I count it. The second movie I remember seeing in a theater is the great Francis Ford Coppola film ‘Captain EO’.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

This is probably going to get someone in trouble, namely my mother. When I was a wee lad of 7, my mother took my brother (11), my sister (9) and me to see ‘The Great Waldo Pepper’ at a local movie house and left us there as she had errands to run. It turns out that Waldo was nowhere to be found, replaced instead with a Woody Allen triple feature. So at 7-years-old, I watched ‘Sleeper’, ‘Bananas’, and ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask‘. I still have nightmares about “rolling out the tongue” and “sending in the sperm.” Do the movies hold up? I don’t know. I’m still too traumatized to watch them again.

Mike Attebery

The first movie I can ever recall seeing in the theater was ‘Pete’s Dragon‘. Since I was born in ’78, it must have been during the re-release in 1984. My parents took two of my sisters and I to see it at the Allen Theaters at the Animas Valley Mall in Farmington, NM. I have never seen it again since, but I can distinctly remember walking down the aisle and taking a seat, then leaving hours later, feeling like I was wandering back into reality.

We’ve told you our stories. Now is your turn to tell us yours. Film lovers, what was the movie that set you on the path to cinemania?


  1. Alex

    The earliest vivid memories I have of going to the theater was when my oldest brother (who was in college at the time), came to spend the summer with us and he took me to see both Willow and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Good times. Great times, actually.

  2. wow do i feel old. i remember seeing pete’s dragon in its first run , but the first film i saw was star wars in 77. i was 4 at the time and loved it ever since. and greedo shot first. 🙂

  3. I couldn’t even begin to guess what the first movie I saw in the theater was, that was essentially all we did (and do) and for a good while when I was a toddler we lived next door to a drive-thru. Once particularly distinct memory however was in 1994 (I was 13) when my mom got really excited about the comeback of one John Travolta and took our family to see Pulp Fiction. Twas not what she expected. I loved it, what my mom didn’t love was that we also brought my then 5 years old little brother…

  4. motorheadache

    My first movie I remember seeing in the theater was either Superman IV or Land Before Time, whichever came out first.

    Technically the first movie I ever saw at the theater was Return of the Jedi, but I was only one. Hopefully I didn’t cry or be annoying and ruin the movie for everyone else.

  5. Mine’s a fun one…I was 5-years-old and with my parents, older brother and cousin. We were going to split up, with my mom taking me to see the re-release of Disney’s BAMBI…but we were late and Bambi had already started.

    So my very first movie was 1975’s RACE WITH THE DEVIL, starring Peter Fonda and Loretta Swit. I’m sure it wouldn’t hold up today (I’ve never seen it again), but I remember being thrilled with the car chases and action (it was about some vacationers being terrorized by Satanic cultists). Made me love the movies…a love that was sealed two years later when my parents took me to see this little sci-fi flick called STAR WARS.

    • Ah, thats another one my parents had me in the back seat for. I wasn’t quite as old but that movie was quite memorable and I remember it vividly and sought it out years later on Video tape. Great flick with great car chases. Warren Oates in one of his many outstanding roles. I loved that guy in everything he was in but especially Stripes as their drill sergeant and he was awesome in Blue Thunder, “When your walking on eggs, don’t hop.”

      One of my favorite scenes growing up in the 80’s.

  6. I saw The Chipmunk Adventure when I was probably four and change. I do remember a scene where the the chipmunks and chippettes are about to get sacrificed to a volcano by some natives, so I’m guessing the movie was more than a little bit racist.

    I remember seeing Black Hole once as a small child, and, of course, the one scene that stuck with me was the robot pureeing a guys heart through a Bible. That delighted me to no end.

  7. Adam

    The Land Before Time. Don’t remember much about it, except that I was little and it was a pretty dark and damn scary movie for a little kid, unlike the countless sequels I had to watch in my late teens with a 4-year old stepbrother.

  8. ilovenola2

    Those of you posters feeling “old” may now feel better. A baby-sitting cousin took me to my first film, “The Boy With Green Hair,” in 1948 upon its initial release. I was 5 and retained vivid memories of scenes that were confirmed when I saw the ‘controversial’ film again in the late 1980s– 40 years later! It’s director was soon-to-be-blacklisted Joseph Losey, who went to England and had a most distinguished career (“The Servant,” etc.) “Green Hair” star Dean Stockwell has always professed his pride in this film, which was pulled by Howard Hughes of RKO who didn’t like the message stated by the green-haired boy during the film. That insidious message: “War is bad for children.”
    I fell in love with movies seeing this Technicolor wonder at 5 years old. Green hair!!! Wow! Wish I had it! Needless to say, I was a “Treasure Island” fiend by age 7!!!

  9. Ed, Watertown MA

    At age 6 I went to a saturday double feature of House of Wax & The Pit and the Pendulum. Scared the hell out of me and I’ve been a horror fan ever since.

  10. Tim Tringle

    Wow, man do you guys make me feel old. Ghostbusters, I saw that quite a lot the summer that came out, but that year was full of so many great films it’s not even funny. Terminator, Indy and the temple of doom, amadeus (though it would be years later before I would see it) sixteen candles, The Neverending Story, just to name a few.

    Memories however are a tricky thing, since when your about 4 or 5 you don’t have a day planner (at least kids didn’t when I was growing up) the year would be probably 1975 and I was four at the time. I know my parents had me in the back seat when they went to see a number of movies at the drive in. Including some I definitely should not have been seeing or rather listening to at that age. What’s amazing is how certain imagery can stick with you, because the main movies I remember seeing that year and the earliest that I can recall are seeing “Jaws” with my mother, which pretty much kept me out of the ocean my entire life since then. I remember seeing Blackbeard’s Ghost, a disney comedy with peter ustinov as well. But the movie I remember even more vividly is “Deep Red”. I know that Jaws was in theaters for quite a while that year so It’s pretty safe that argento’s film which was definitely at a Drive In was probably earlier than Jaws for me personally. That movie scared the living hell out of me and I distinctly remember having a hard time sleeping in dark rooms after seeing it. For those who have not seen this movie it’s going to be really lame by today’s standards but back then it was pretty brutal as far as slasher flicks went and there is a scene involving a body that has been sealed behind a wall that is pretty damned scary. More than the images from the movie itself was the music that I remember both the creepy lullaby theme and the pop/disco stylings of Goblin that I would remember years later without having seen the film in quite a while.

    Another thing is that while I have always been scared of being eaten by a shark and thus hate the ocean because of Jaws, I never really had a problem seeing horror movies like Deep Red until the last 10 years or so. I guess because I never had a problem telling the difference between reality and cinema and lately the special effects in horror movies has hit a little too close to reality in it’s hyper-realism or more logically my perceived realism.

  11. Scott H

    I can’t remember the first movie I saw in theaters but the most vivid memory I have is the one when my dad took me and my friends to go see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Man I loved that movie and I think even today as hoaky as the effects are, they still hold up alright today.

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