In years past (this may be less the case in today’s age of instant access digital streaming at home), the first movie a child went to see at a movie theater was a milestone, often formative experience of youth. If you’re a parent, what were the first movie(s) you took your kids to see, how old were they, and how well did it go?
The first film we took my daughter to see was ‘The Peanuts Movie‘. We couldn’t have asked for a better first experience. She was excited about the popcorn and excited about the huge screen. Her eyes opened big and wide when the previews came on. Then, when the audience first laughed at something during the show, her face completely lit up as she realized there were so many people in the room with us, watching the same thing, and laughing and responding to everything right along with her. It was pretty magical to watch her enjoying the film and looking around now and then to see the audience’s reaction.
M. Enois Duarte
‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘ was the first theatrical outing with my daughter. She was six at the time. We never went before because she was a rowdy toddler, but by the time she started going to school, she was more manageable for the theater crowds. Also, we read the book together a couple years earlier, so the timing was right.
I still remember her excitement as we walked into Regal Cinemas, bought popcorn and the jubilant enthusiasm in her step as we found our seats. I looked over at her several times to enjoy the look on her face. She watched the movie with astonishment because she’d never seen a screen so huge and overwhelming. Every year after that, it was our tradition to see a new installment opening weekend.
That is, until she discovered boys and wanted to see ‘The Deathly Hollows Part 1’ with her new boyfriend. I was sad and somewhat disappointed, but I also knew it was inevitable. The ‘Harry Potter’ franchise has a special place in my life because I was given the opportunity of watching my daughter grow and become a beautiful young lady along with the fictional characters.
The first film that I took my oldest daughter to was ‘Tangled‘. She was three. Unfortunately, we were unaware that it was a 3D screening until we arrived at the theater. I instantly feared for the worst, but she surprised me. She was great! Although she took the glasses off halfway through, she still sat there and watched the whole thing.
I was a little braver with my second daughter, but I shouldn’t have been. At the age of two, we went out to a dollar-theater showing of ‘ParaNorman‘. She was terrible, but not in the loud and crying way – thank heaven. She was full of energy and super wiggly. We had to spend the majority of the time in the back of the room. Luckily, this is on par with discount theater audiences, so we didn’t cause a stir for everyone else.
My third daughter is far more mature than most kids her age. We went at the age of two. I can’t remember the movie, but I remember her being good and quiet, which was mostly due to the giant bucket of popcorn.
My boys just both turned three on New Year’s Eve. My wife got it in her head that their birthday present should be their first trip to a movie theater. I resisted this plan as much as I was able. I felt that they weren’t old enough or ready, but she insisted that it would be fine and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
We were both right, and we were both wrong.
Mrs. Z decided that the most appropriate movie playing at the time was the animated musical ‘Sing‘, the one with Matthew McConaughey as a koala bear who hosts a talent show for singing animals. I wasn’t thrilled. I really hoped that my boys’ first theater trip would be a memorable experience they’d look back on later. This movie seemed cute and innocuous enough, but it’s not something that anyone will remember even existed six months from now.
Whatever. The choice was made. We were going. I ordered tickets online for a Saturday morning 10 AM matinee at the local multiplex. $10.75 for adults and $10.25 for children, plus a $2 service fee for each ticket. Geezus.
My son Thomas was a trooper. He was pretty happy to sit with us and munch on popcorn while we watched the colorful animals. If we’d gone with just him, he probably would have sat through the whole thing with little fidgeting.
My other son, Joseph, has much less patience or attention span for movies. He made it about 15 minutes before he started whining that he wanted to go home. About two minutes after that, he started walking down the stadium stairs. I fetched him and brought him back. That lasted about another minute. I let him go downstairs and followed him out to the lobby while my wife stayed with Thomas. He wandered around for a couple minutes and whined some more. I had a talk with him about how we had to stay to watch the rest of the movie. We went back in. He lasted about 10 minutes this time.
This cycle repeated over and over. Sometimes I chased him out. Sometimes my wife did. Thomas left a couple times too because he wanted to see what Joseph was up to. Another parent in the theater was having much the same problem with her daughter, who was around the same age, so our kids played a bit. For a while, they ran back and forth around the first row of the theater (where no one was sitting, fortunately) together.
In all, I’d say I saw about 20% of the movie. Thomas might have seen around 70% of it, though when I asked him about it the next day he couldn’t remember anything in particular about it. Personally, I never had any interest in seeing ‘Sing’ in the first place, so I’m not exactly upset about missing out on something. However, that was a fairly miserable two hours and $50 that I would have rather spent on something else.
The kids aren’t going back to the theater until they’re at least five-years-old. Whatever they see at that time, I’ll tell them that it’s their first movie in the theater. I’m confident that neither of them will have any memory at all of this one.
OK, parents, tell us about your movie theater experiences with your kids.