Weekend Roundtable: Movie Walk-Outs

Exactly just how bad does a movie need to be before you just can’t take it anymore? In this week’s Roundtable, we’d like to know whether (or how often) you’ve walked out of a movie that you paid to see in the theater.

We’d like to restrict this topic to theatrical walk-outs. Turning off a movie early on DVD or Blu-ray doesn’t have quite the same sting to it.

Aaron Peck

I pride myself on the fact that I never walk out of movies. I’ll often see a film or two at Sundance that cause me to want to walk out, but I don’t. I even stayed through the entire Sundance screening of ‘The Informers‘ and that was a chore. Mark Pellington’s ‘I Melt with You‘ was another Sundance film where I could’ve walked out, but instead stayed until the extremely bitter end.

However, that all changed this past Sundance. I sat down for a Japanese film called ‘R100’ about a guy who joins a weird dominatrix sex club. The premise is that the women brutally assault him during the day. He doesn’t know when it’s coming, so that when it happens, it’s even more exciting for him. The first 30 minutes of the movie are darkly comedic enough. There’s even a strange little heartwarming tale between the man and his young 8-year-old son. It was all going fine for a while. Although really bizarre, that’s the norm at film festivals.

To provide some context, the beginning of ‘R100’ starts with a warning that states that all of god’s creatures were treated with respect, and that animatronics and makeup effects were used during the filming. So, the movie continues on and gets weirder and more disgusting. Then, at one point, one of the sadistic matrons from the club involves the man’s kid in some crazy bondage routine. That’s the point where I threw up my hands and walked out. In Roger Ebert’s book ‘Life Itself’, he talks about having a moral line which is a personal preference. His moral line was crossed during ‘Blue Velvet’. Mine was crossed during ‘R100’. I don’t care if the kid who was tied up and gagged was actually a robot. That’s where my line was drawn.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

The only time I can remember stomping out a theater early was during Spike Lee’s ‘He Got Game’. It didn’t have anything to do with the movie itself, though. I was just trying to kill a certain amount of time and left afterwards. Eh, it was only a buck.

Killing time at discount theaters is a recurring theme here. I’d suffer through dreck like ‘Wing Commander’ and ‘Bats’ in my sleepy little college town when I’d finish exams early. I remember being the only person in the theater subjecting himself to Don Johnson’s rightly forgotten ‘Goodbye Lover’ during a particularly boring summer where I’d trudge over to the dollar theater on a near-daily basis. Even with as dreadful as so many of those movies were, I always felt honor-bound to stick it out till the end.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

I’ve walked out of a film only once: David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead‘. This was early in college when the film was screening at our on-campus theater. I think it may have been just after the chicken dinner scene. I mean, seriously, WTF?

I have since learned to appreciate Lynch’s offbeat sense of humor and style. In fact, ‘Twin Peaks’ was one of my favorite TV series of the ’90s and ‘Blue Velvet’ remains one of my favorite indie films. I’m sorry to say that I still haven’t developed an appreciation for his take on ‘Dune’, though. I still have no idea what Josh sees in that movie.

Junie Ray

Whenever I think about walking out of a movie, I think about economics class and the concept of “sunk costs,” which is defined as a past cost that has been incurred and cannot be recovered. The theory applied to movies is that if the movie is bad, you’ve already paid your money (sunk cost), so you might as well walk out and gain back your time. However, many people subscribe to the fallacy, “I’ve paid my money, so I need to sit through this torture.” Even knowing that I’d be wiser to gain back my time, I’ve only walked out of two movies. I walked out of ‘The Matrix‘ because I could not sustain my disbelief to allow Keanu Reeves to be a messiah figure. Dude, seriously? I also walked out of ‘Mission: Impossible III, but that was only because my date had passed out from two Mai Tais too many and his snoring was drowning out the movie explosions.

Brian Hoss

I’m a huge fan of ‘Major League’, yet one of the only movies that I have ever walked out on was ‘Major League II’. To this day, I’ve never seen it to the end, since it just shamelessly fails at doing anything enjoyable with the returning cast. Even worse (because it was way too long) was ‘Any Given Sunday‘. I went with eight people, bought two expensive tickets, and then was continuously begged by the majority of the group to leave what was a beached whale of a movie early. As I stubbornly refused to leave, Oliver Stone seemed to be trying to prove that the hopelessly meandering story could say something about football if only it ever ended.

Shannon Nutt

The only movies I’ve actually walked out of were for reasons other than the films themselves. I remember leaving ‘Born on the Fourth of July‘ because I had developed a killer headache. I left a screening of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring‘ because two annoying girls behind me were giving away plot points right before they happened on screen. (I gave them the “half turn,” then the “full turn,” then I just got up and left.) Finally, I ditched a screening of ‘Joy Ride‘ because the theater had the wrong lens on the projector, causing the anamorphic picture to be elongated. The projectionist had no idea what I was talking about, so I just left and got a refund. To date, I have still not seen ‘Joy Ride’. Any good?

However, one movie that I did stay through to the end and wished I could have been anywhere else was ‘The English Patient‘. Yes, I realize that this is a Best Picture winner and highly rated by many, but I couldn’t stand it. I cared nothing about the characters, nor their fates. I just remember feeling that the audience was suffering far more than the burn victim we were watching up on the screen.

Luke Hickman

I’ve only walked out of two movies in my life, but the first shouldn’t really count because of the circumstances. When I was a kid, my mom took me to see ‘Alive’ in theaters because I’d read and loved the book. Being my first theatrical R-rated movie and having an uncle who died in a plane wreck, the crash scene was way too intense for me. Little Luke couldn’t handle it, which ended up being a good thing because my mom recently told me that she couldn’t handle it either. (It was her brother who died in a plane crash.)

The second movie I walked out of came much later in my life. In my early 20s, I took a promising date to see Harrison Ford and (then) up-and-coming actor Josh Hartnett in ‘Hollywood Homicide‘. I don’t remember a thing about that movie other than wanting to die because it was so stupid. At some point, probably halfway through the picture, it dawned on me that I have free agency and the option to do as I please. Having recognizing that blessing, it pleased me to get the hell out of there immediately. I’ve only felt that amount of liberation a few times in my life. Boy, did it feel good to shake that one off.

Josh Zyber

Like many on our staff, I’m wired to stick it out to the end even during bad movies. Mrs. Z and I came very close to walking out of Joel Schumacher’s piece-of-shit adaptation of John Grisham’s piece-of-shit novel ‘A Time to Kill‘ (featuring two of this year’s Oscar-nominated actors!). The film is populated with offensive racial caricatures, and the sole purpose of its idiotic storyline is to legitimize and glorify vigilante violence. We found the movie insufferably awful. Unfortunately, we were there with a friend who was enjoying the thing and we had to be polite about it.

I fell asleep (another thing I never do at the theater) during Krzysztof Kieslowski’s pretentious and wildly overrated ‘Three Colors: Blue‘, but I was there when the end credits rolled. I later gave that another shot on DVD and had to repeatedly slap myself in the face to stay awake.

At the risk of giving away TMI, I’ll tell you that I was forced to walk out of a repertory theater double-bill screening of Chow Yun-Fat’s ‘God of Gamblers’ and its sequel that I’d paid for. The dinner I’d eaten beforehand badly disagreed with me, and I was overcome with digestion issues during the opening credits of the first movie. I ran to the theater bathroom and spent about half an hour in there. By the time I’d recovered, I’d missed too much of the movie and was in no mood to be out in public anymore. Later, I bought the movie on DVD, only to find that it was a defective copy that froze and wouldn’t play past the same scene where I’d left earlier. That seemed like an omen to me. I’ve still never seen the movie.

Are you the sort of person who suffers through movies no matter what, or do you get up and leave if you aren’t enjoying yourself? Tell us your stories about theatrical walk-outs in the Comments below.


  1. Jason

    the only film I’ve ever walked out of was John Landis’ wretched The Stupids. I was in high school at the time and my friends and I recalled our childhood fondness for the children’s books that served as the inspiration of the film. It did not translate.

  2. To my knowledge, the only movie I’ve walked out of was 2005’s “White Noise” with Michael Keaton. I remember my friends wanting to see it and despite my suspicions that the movie was going to be horrible, I let them drag me along simply because Batman himself, Michael Keaton was in it. What a mistake that was. About a half hour in my friends and I realized that my suspicions had been confirmed and we promptly left the theater. I feel like this mid-00’s period was exceptional at churning out lame thriller/ horror flicks, I remember wanting to bolt out of The Forgotten but stayed because I had gone with a group of friends and some cute girls. Although, now that I think of it, I’m sure garbage like the two aforementioned pictures is still being churned out, I just don’t go see it anymore.

  3. Battlefield Earth, Max Payne, Total Recall (the reboot), Riddick (2013), probably one to two others I’m forgetting, and….

    Looper, but that was only because I got really really sick. I got a free pass to come back for that.

    • William Henley

      If I had of saw Battlefield Earth at the theater, i would have walked out. I hadn’t even heard of it until a few years ago when I came across the book. I was so excited when I found out there was a movie, and turned it off 10 minutes in in complete disgust

  4. Ryan

    I’ve only walked out of 2 movies.
    The first was Next Friday. The most unfunny movie I’ve ever had the displeasure of paying for (and I’ve seen Corky Romano!!).
    The second probably isn’t even a bad movie….just a terrible movie to go on a double date to. The Shadow of the Vampire. To this day, I’m pretty sure I would have liked it…but never tried to see it again. But when you’re 20, and would rather be with a girl, you don’t complain if they hate the movie you’re watching.

  5. Ryan

    Oh, I just remembered. We walked out of The Dark Knight Rises as well. Technically it was before the movie even started…and it was because a noisy family with screaming infants came into the theater.

  6. Brent

    I’ve never walked out on a movie though there is a growing list of ones I should have:

    Extreme Ops
    Don Jon

    I am sure there are others that I am missing.

  7. John W

    The first Bay “Transformers”…shortly after the Autobots’ romp around Sam’s back yard. I was an hour in, and realized this was going nowhere at a glacial pace. Two women in front of myself had already left, and I realized they had made the right call. Bye, bye movie.

    “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. 3/4 of the way in. The jungle chase and the bit with the monkeys just ended, and my youngest brother had it. He said “I’ll be in the lobby.” I waited another 30 seconds before thinking, “Yeah. **** this.” I wound up having to re watch all of it anyway, since I had promised another family member I would see it. The movie did NOT improve.

    Now for the weird part…I went to see “Revenge of the Fallen”, and DIDN’T walk out, because I was so transfixed by the ineptness on display. Throughout it, I thought “Get worse movie, GET WORSE! I DARE YOU…Oh, didn’t see that coming. Well played movie. Well played.”

  8. Deaditelord

    I’ve never walked out of a movie, but I did fall asleep once in a theater while watching Gangs of New York. It was part of a double feature with Chicago in which I expected Chicago to be the lesser film. Instead, I enjoyed Chicago immensely and ended up being so bored by Gangs that I dozed off around the halfway point. It’s a good thing the person behind me bumped my chair during the end credits to leave because I probably would have kept right on sleeping until theater staff found me.

    (Note: If memory serves, I did stay up rather late the night before which probably contributed to my sleepiness. However, I did try to watch Gangs of New York again once it was on cable and I still found it to be quite tedious. And this is coming from someone who normally loves Scorsese’s movies.)

    • Deaditelord

      I see editing is still not an option for posts. Anyway, I thought I said it, but Gangs of New York was the 2nd half of the double feature; not the first. 🙂

  9. I’ve only ever walked out of two movies, both very popular ones. The first was ‘Iron Man’. I can picture everyone’s response of “What?!” but the fact is that I still consider that a racist, jingoistic, sexist piece of crap, whose only merit was the occasional funny slapstick moment. I walked out after our hero takes out the umpteenth arab man whose only identification as being an actual enemy is apparently his skin color. Never bothered to re-watch it or view the sequels.

    Second one was ‘Bridesmaids’, right after the food poisoning scene. That passed my gross-out line.

  10. No. But I wanted to walk out on all three Twilight sequels my daughter made me take her to see. I am truly picky about what movies I see in theatre. I did fall asleep during Wild Wild West…and I wasn’t the only one either. What a crapfest.

    • Deaditelord

      Thank goodness I have no daughters because I definitely would have fallen asleep if forced to watch Twilight in a darkened theater. I think I made it 15 minutes through the first Twilight movie on cable before I switched channels.

    • skinnyb37

      My friend loved these books. She talked me into a “friend date” to go see one of them (think it was the 2nd one), as her husband was subjected to seeing the 1st one with her and called out a favor from me. As bad as the movie was, the worst part was my friend leaning over and whispering plot points throughout the movie, explaining what had happened in the 1st movie and/or books…seriously annoying! I didn’t even want to be watching that POS, let alone know the history behind it!

  11. The only two movies I ever walked out on were American Pie and Where The Wild Things Are. Terrible. I really REALLY wanted to walk out of The Passion of the Christ (my vote for worst movie ever made) but the amount of people crying in the theater made the whole situation too awkward. In hindsight I wish I would have walked out of The Blair Witch, but I kept holding out hope that something ANYTHING was going to happen. When it turned out that, nope, nothing happened, I actually yelled out “What the fuck was that?!” In the theater. The reaction from the rest of the audience indicated they all felt the same.

  12. Alex

    I’m sure I’ll catch it for this, but after we took the AP Physics test, my friends and my brains were utterly fried, so we decided we needed to blow off some steam. We ditched the rest of the school day and went to go so this new war flick with an all-star cast that had been getting great reviews: “The Thin Red Line.”

    It was dismal. Maybe on another day, I would have enjoyed it, but that day I found it tedious, boring, and insufferable. Finally, after nearly three horrendous hours, right after George Clooney’s thirty second cameo, we all stood up and walked out.

    It might be a better movie now, but I’m just not willing to take the chance.

    • William Henley

      It does make me smile that a person in AP Physics would ditch school. 🙂 I thought about it before, I must admit – I had horrible schedule of having AP Calculus-based Physics right before AP Calculus, and we had block scheduling, so those were 90 minutes a day, so 3 hours a day of non-stop calculus. Yeah, I considered ditching school a few times!

  13. Ted S.

    I’ve never walked out of any movie but I wish I’d walked out of these ones I saw in theater:

    -Godzilla (1998) Roland Emmerich’s remake was unbearable to sit through but I couldn’t leave because my friends were enjoying the film and I didn’t have a ride home.

    -Lost In Space (1998) This up to date movie based on the TV show was so bad, I couldn’t even remember what the heck it’s about. Bad effects, acting, writing and directing.

    -John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) Love most of Carpenter’s work but this one was bad, even worst than Escape from LA.

    Yep, I didn’t have a lot of good experiences at the movies in 1998.

  14. Paul A

    I haven’t walked out of any movie as well. At least that I can remember (the indiscretions of my youth have cost me a brain cell or two). I walked out of theaters amazed at the brilliance of what I just saw and I have walked out of theaters amazed at the big, giant turd I just wasted my time with. I even sat through Uwe Boll’s “Alone in the Dark”. And, not once have I ever even remotely thought about walking out. I guess I am not wired that way. In fact, I have achieved some serious bladder control over the years, due to not wanting to walk out in the middle of a movie to even take a leak. I totally understand why a lot of you have, however. Lot’s of interesting choices and reasons.

  15. My girlfriend and I walked half way thru “The Bounty Hunter” and “When In Rome”, hey I’m all for a good romcom I really enjoyed “About Time” recentley .. but those two movies I mentioned are a big pile of dog S**T. .. back in college a bunch of friends and I walked out of Sahara as well.

  16. I normally dont walk out of movies, but I did for A Sound of Thunder and hopped to go see Exorcism of Emily Rose instead. it isnt uncommon for me to sleep through a movie, good or bad.

  17. ‘Captain Phillips’. Rare is the film whose “shaky-cam” bothers me, but Paul Greengrass makes films that I find are literally unwatchable to me. It was bad enough trying to sit through the second Bourne film (my body shut down and I fell asleep, watching on a 26″ TV in broad daylight). But seeing it writ large in the dark? Absolutely unacceptable.

    I’ve a high tolerance for cinematic pain, so I’ve never left due to content. By God, if I paid my money, I’m going to take my chances, and a healthy diet of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ has given me the ability to see humor even in the worst.

  18. Timcharger

    Sorry Junie Ray (my comments will be harsh).

    If my date wasn’t a fan of Matrix (the 1st one, not the sequels) or Mission Impossible 3 (not the John Woo one, but the Abrams one with Phillip Seymour Hoffman), then I too would be:

    “passed out from two Mai Tais too many” and be “snoring” if I was your date.

    Not a harsh comment really, because that means you won’t have to throw my blu-rays of the Matrix and MI3 on the lawn when we break up. 🙂

  19. paramedic0112

    The Butterfly Effect, Derailed, Year One, and Domino (Tony Scott movie). They were just really stupid.

  20. Bill

    Star Wars Attack of The Clones. This was Lucas’ first real attempt at using mostly digital props and sets instead of miniatures, physical props etc. I couldn’t stand how phony everything looked. When I saw the exhaust ports of the Empire’s ships resting a few feet above the ground I’d had enough. I got up and walked out to the shock of several ushers.

  21. I sat through the entire Wing Commander (even though I got the tickets for free) and Pluto Nash. And, if it hadn’t been for a fire alarm, I would have sat through all of The Guru, as well.

    So, yeah, I don’t really walk out of movies.

  22. Ryan M

    I’ve never walked out of a movie. They’re so expensive in New York that I do my research beforehand so I know there’s a good chance I’ll like one. However, when I lived in and visit the town I grew up in, I would have walked out of two movies but for my family going to see them as a family outing. I am speaking of “Land of the Lost” and “Les Miserables”. Land of the Lost was terrible, not-at-all funny, and the only reasons I didn’t walk out were because I was with my wife, brother, and sister, and it was late at night and we had sneaked into it. I figured that I had nothing better to do, so I stayed. I wanted to walk out of Les Mis because the projectionist had no idea what the f*ck he was doing. Not only was the movie framed incorrectly, but it sounded like I was listening to a 13″ TV through a sewage pipe. It was a horrible experience, and after asking the theater owner to fix it twice, I relented and spent the rest of the movie pissed off. Of course, I went with my parents and siblings on Christmas Day night, so I was stuck.

    I fell asleep during “Lost in Space”; probably should’ve walked out of that one too.

  23. William Henley

    Off the top of my head, the only movie I ever walked out of was Apollo 18.

    I know my parents walked out of Pulp Fiction. I only saw it after it came out on home video, and I shut it off after about 20-30 minutes, so I can understand them walking out of it.

    I had some friends who had walked out of Harry Potter 6 or 7. Not sure why they had even went in the first place – they were those ultra-conservative “any mention of magic is evil” people, and had not seen any of the previous movies or read any of the books.

    I rarely will walk out of a movie at the theater, mainly because I am not going to pay to go see a movie I am unsure about. It is not unusual, though, for me to only watch 20-30 minutes of a movie or television show at home, and turn it off.

    • Willie

      “I had some friends who had walked out of Harry Potter 6 or 7. Not sure why they had even went in the first place – they were those ultra-conservative “any mention of magic is evil” people, and had not seen any of the previous movies or read any of the books.”

      I had a friend who’s family was also very religious. His dad walked them out of Howard The Duck…although, once I did see it, I was kinda jealous he got to leave early.

  24. skinnyb37

    I wanted to walk out of Titanic…but halfway through realized that I REALLY wanted to watch these characters die at the end…imagine my chagrin when only one of them did…(kind of kidding…I actually caught this piece of crap on DVD…thank goodness for beer in the fridge).

  25. Scary Movie 2 is the only movie I’ve ever walked out on. Made it about 20 minutes in before deciding that this was a horrible decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *