Friday This ‘n’ That – FREE 3D & YouTube Red

Epic Theatre Hendersonville

  • Intriguingly, the Epic Theatre chain has dropped their surcharge for 3D movies. I’m not a big fan of 3D movies as I find that in most movies, it serves simply as a distraction. It is supposed to make things more immersive but I find it has the opposite effect. Having said that, it is nice for patrons to have a choice without the exorbitant upcharge. Bravo, Epic!

YouTube Red

  • Borrowing a page from Hulu’s book, YouTube has introduced YouTube Red, their new ad-free service. It is $10 a month unless purchased through ios (ios charges $13). I already pay for Hulu and Netflix as well as receiving Amazon Prime because of my wife’s joy at receiving packages quickly (you can see why I don’t need cable). I can’t see shelling out for this but I can see it being useful for others (my granddaughter really enjoys toy unboxing videos).
  • This does bring up the possibility of a troubling new trend. Start something for free, get people hooked on content, then crowd the site with ads, finally offer to remove the ads if they pay each month to remove them.
  • Which brings us to microtransactions. They were an anomaly until several companies proved that you could make a fortune giving your game away and then making progress nearly impossible without a tiny tiny purchase of some in-game commodity. Now even games that cost $60 will charge you for planned but not yet released expansions, variant costumes, etc.

Spectre

  • Please pardon me as I’m off to see Spectre!

Friday This ‘n’ That – Timing is Everything

#firstworldproblems

I love going to the movies. Currently, Friday is my day off and I like to spend the day at the movies. During the summer, things are great as movies start between 10 and 11 in the morning. I can get in three features before meeting my wife for dinner.

Unfortunately it’s not summer so two of the three theaters I frequent, Regal Biltmore Grande and Epic Theatre of Hendersonville, don’t even start their shows until 1 in the afternoon. Ditto the three I don’t go to, Carmike, Beaucatcher, and Asheville Brewing. Only Carolina Cinemas has morning showings, some as early as 11.

This is the absolute nitpickiest of nitpicky complaints.

Regal Cinemas

Biltmore Grande has a rather annoying schedule. The vast majority of their films run on a 1, 4, 7, and 10 rotation (as many theaters do). While this does mean that you can simply show up at the theater prior to one of these times and be pretty sure you’re okay, it really leaves out those of us who like to string together a marathon or even a double feature.

Carolina Cinemas

Again, Carolina Cinemas comes to the rescue. Their movies are scheduled at all different times so, if you know how long a movie is, you can plan a string of movies. This past Friday, for example, I could have gone to Biltmore Grand to go see The Visit at 130 and Crimson Peak at 4. Alternately I could have gone to The Carolina to see Crimson Peak at 1150, Sicario at 205, and Bridge of Spies at 420.

Epic Theatres’ New Classic Movies on the Big Screen Program

Epic Theatres

Epic Theatres is running a nice lineup of classic movies. Unlike the once a month TCM showings through Fandango, Epic is showing their shows every week and at regular ticket price. As is typical with these classic movies, the advertising is not what it could be so catch them when and where you can or they will stop running.

Epic classic showtimes are 2 and 7 on Sunday and Wednesday (much like their TCM counterparts).

Psycho

10/25 & 10/28 – Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

11/01 & 11/04 – Back to the Future (for those who missed the triple feature)

Princess Bride

11/08 & 11/11 – The Princess Bride (my wife’s absolute favorite movie of all time)

11/15 & 11/18 – The Wizard of Oz

11/22 & 11/25 – Spaceballs

11/29 & 12/2 – A Christmas Story

 

Epic Cinema Tables at Epic Theatres of course!

On my last movie day, I spent the whole day at my local Epic Theatre. I got a nice jumbo hard plastic Ant-Man cup to add to my already overburgeoning collection and my waistline thanks them for having unsweet tea. I don’t care for water and hate diet cola.

Pirates Table

 

Normally they, like most theaters, have too much lobby space. Normally I like to peruse the neat displays for upcoming movies (my favorite was Regal’s whack-a-mole featuring the Minions for Despicable Me 2), but this time I was really impressed with the new tables they got.

Hunger Games Table

 

The tables and chairs seemed very sturdy and the table easy to clean off. The table was a little lower than I would like but now I think I need one in my movie room.

Toy Story 3

 

They had four styles but I imagine these would be quickly customizable to any movie poster. Now should I get Alien or The Thing or something from classic Hollywood?

Spider-Man

FREE Movie Tickets All Over the Place!

Lots of FREE movie ticket offers going around lately.

Project Almanac

* Best Buy has an endcap of Blu-Rays with FREE tickets to see Project Almanac on them. Titles include Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, the Transformers movies, War of the Worlds, World War Z, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Super 8, Minority Report, Bad Grandpa, A.I., Jack Ryan, Hercules, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Prices range from $9.99 to $26.99

* Regal Cinemas also has a group deal for Project Almanac. This weekend only (ends 2/1), you can buy four tickets and get one FREE. I’m not sure why five of you would want to see this at one time but there you go.

Birdman

* Regal Cinemas has a much better deal for Birdman. For the next week (ends 2/5), Regal has buy one ticket, get one FREE on this Oscar-nominated film. Offer valid at box office only.

Spongebob Squarepants

* Regal Cinemas also has brought back their SuperTicket deal. For $15 over the price of the movie ticket, you get a digital copy of The SpongeBob Squarepants movie (2004) and, later, a digital copy of SpongeBob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water.

* Costco, Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart all have FREE movie tickets for the new Spongebob movie on DVD seasons of SpongeBob and Ren & Stimpy.

* Best Buy & Wal-Mart have FREE tickets for Fifty Shades of Grey on Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids, Les Miserables, About Time, and Pride and Prejudice.

* I know it’s probably only local but I just received two FREE movie tickets to Epic Theatres for donating blood (through Blood Connection).

The Hobbit Marathon

The Hobbit

 

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Bilbo and Company are forced to be embraced in a war against an armed flock of combatants and the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.”

I love movie marathons. This time, they have found a wonderful new incentive. The Hobbit marathon is the only way to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies early.

Five Armies officially opens on Wednesday, December 17th. This means that theaters will be playing early shows on Tuesday, December 16th BUT if you go to the marathon on Monday, December 15th then you get to see Five Armies on the 15th.

Hobbit Marathon

Regal is also pulling out the stops and putting the marathon in Imax and RPX theaters. Honestly, what else are people going to be doing on a Monday in mid-December. My assumption is that this will be at the HFR as well. Regal is also planning on issuing a coupon (for RCC members) for a $7 large combo because you will need those FREE refills during your eight and a half hour ordeal.

Epic, Cinemark, AMC, and several other chains are also participating in the marathon.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is currently playing in theaters

Big Hero 6

 

Big Hero 6 (2014) – Rated PG

The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.”

As with Mockingjay, this review is short, to the point, yet somewhat pointless. You know if you want to see this movie. You also know if you are going to see it (i.e. do you have children). Big Hero 6 is very funny and enjoyable and makes for a nice holiday romp with the kids.

Big Hero 6 is not as good as the previews suggest however. This is an ensemble piece. The protagonist is Hiro and the main secondary character is Baymax. All of the advertising revolves around Baymax because he is not only the most marketable part of the movie but is easily the best character. The problem is that any time, Baymax is not onscreen, you are waiting for him to appear.

If the film had been all about Baymax and if they had maintained the quality throughout then this would have been a classic. As it is, it is still quite enjoyable but there are a few laggy stretches.

Big Hero 6 cup

Our local theater, Epic, had a children’s meal (small soda, popcorn, and Skittles) based on the movie. You had your choice of three figures for the top of the plastic cup so naturally I…I mean Dorothy chose Baymax.

Baymax figure

 

I Meet a Fan…sort of…

 

I stated this blog a number of years ago for two reasons. The first was that I felt I needed to write something, anything as my cognitive skills seemed to be atrophying. My loving wife suggested a blog, something she had done for years.

I took her up on it but was still at a loss as to what to write. She already wrote about our family life, our outings, and life’s little bumps and bruises. My daughter would always complain that there was nothing on television. I pointed out that streaming Netflix has tens of thousands of movies.

I have loved movies all my life. Some of my fondest memories growing up were going to the movies. I saw Star Wars for my 13th birthday party (yes I am that old). My mom took me to see Halloween when it came out (I don’t think she knew what she was getting into). I snuck in with my friend John to see the original Alien.

Obviously I would write about movies. Initially I covered only movies on Netflix (still a primary focus) but I still love the experience of losing myself in a movie theater presentation so I cover that as well. While my blog is available through the Kindle on Amazon (and I am quite pleased that so many people read this), I write primarily for myself.

I was completely flabbergasted this weekend.

Marc

 

Saturday, the family celebrated lunch out. Jenny and I were discussing an embarrassing topic while Els and Dorothy were in the bathroom. The waiter walked up at a particularly opportune time. After looking at me and thinking a bit, he said, “didn’t you write a review of Epic theater?”

I have never encountered someone who has read my blog. It is not advertised anywhere locally and yet he recognized me from the review, presumably because my Netflix shirt looks similar to the one I wear on the blog. Jenny had to get a picture of course. Our waiter was game though he doesn’t look as pleased in the photo.

That, and a similarly gratifying incident that same evening, really made my day.

Theater Rewards Programs – Regal, Epic, Carolina, Carmike, AMC

I love rewards programs. Most theater chains have rewards cards but not all are created equal, and per usual, each one has its strengths.

Epic Rewards

 

Epic rewards program looks wonderful. Rewards are every 40 points and are large size not small. Get to 480 points and you get a night out at the movies. Awesome right? Well in practice not so much. You can only earn a maximum of 12 points a day and NO points at all for concession purchases. Their ad states you can check the Refreshment Menu for additional points but I have NEVER seen additional points. The movie ticket reward is limited by quite a few restrictions. At absolute best, you can receive a reward every fourth visit.

Epic also offers cardholders a promotional size popcorn for $2 on Thursday. I find this size to be quite adequate for one person.

Regal Crown Club

 

Regal’s Crown Club was the standard for a long time. They recently moved from giveaways at 40 point intervals to 50 point intervals. They have the same popcorn/soft drink/movie ticket rotation, although they never give out a night at the movies and all of their rewards are small size. On the other hand, you can earn up to 20 points a day purchasing tickets and up to 10 points a day at concessions. They also often have particular movies that grant bonus points. This means that you can get a reward every second visit (or about every third if you go solo).

Regal also has special rewards. There is a featured candy for $2 every Monday, $2 popcorn on Tuesday, and 5 bonus credits for Thursdays.

*Caveat: while Regal’s stated system seems nice, I have been to 7 movies and many concession purchases lately without receiving a single reward. I can only imagine that my card is locked for some reason and I intend to speak to them next visit but currently my card does not appear to be earning points. I don’t know if this is just my problem or if this is a common occurrence. It certainly has dampened my enthusiasm for Regal.

Carolina Cinemas

 

Carolina Cinemas has a hilarious super secret program called the Carolina Club Card. I say super secret because the counter advertisement merely tells you that you can earn popcorn, soda, and movie tickets but not how many points you can earn in a day. Many other particulars are left vague. The flyer and card both say full rules & regulations are available online at carolinacinemas.com but there is NO mention of any kind on their website that they even have a rewards program. I do manage to earn a fair amount there so I have to assume it is on the same basic schedule as Regal and Epic but it would be nice to know.

I never go to our Carmike theater after having several customer service issues there many years back. There is little need as Asheville is stuffed with theaters. I looked up the Carmike Rewards program. You can earn up to 20 points each for ticket purchases and concessions over a three hour period. This is fairly generous but rewards are only given at the 80 point intervals. Yikes!

We don’t have an AMC theater in our area. I’ve heard that their Stubs program, while having an annual fee, is the best in the business, offering plenty of opportunities to earn items and granting upgrades.

Off to the Movies I Will Go…

…where I learned everything that I know. (paraphrasing)

No news here today – just a rambling train of thought as I head out for a day at the movies.

I love going to the movies.

Unfinished Mural

I keep trying to make my movie room like a theater. There are movie posters plastering the walls, including some prized ones like an original Last Man on Earth, several Etsy Hammer posters, several signed posters, and one from Mister White, the movie one of my daughters worked on. We’re in the process of having a mural done based on an old poster of Quatermass and the Pit. I love my movie room.

I have the largest television we could afford, a 60″ plasma. We sit just a few feet away from it. Of course everyone wants larger but mine is a good size and does the job well (insert your own joke here). We have comfortable seating for three and can squeeze a couple more in but it is not a very large room.

Popcorn

The latest addition was the popcorn machine and, properly utilized, the popcorn tastes better than theater popcorn and is much better for you. For those of you with a machine at home, use the Great Northern portion packs, available from Amazon. We also bought a case of 500 popcorn bags which we are not quite out of.

Captain America: Winter Soldier

Still even though I love my room, I still love going TO the movies. Once a month or so, I run off for a day at the movies. As I write this I’m about to go to Subway for lunch. followed by Noah, Sabotage, and ‘capped off’ by a Captain America double feature. I was lucky enough to find out that my local theater, Epic, was doing a double feature as I hadn’t seen any advertising for it. Also thank goodness that they have unlimited refills on their, admittedly overpriced, plastic tubs of soda and popcorn. Dare I say that today will be Epic?

So why can’t I stay home and buy the movies when they come out? Honestly, you don’t have to wait that long any more – usually about three months. Purchasing a brand new movie on Blu-Ray is usually about $20 on release week so that’s less than two evening tickets.

I think part of it is the enforced setting. At home, we all watch movies but our electronic devices run non-stop. Interruptions are constant from conversations and phone calls to knocks on the door. We pause the movies to do various things, which is normally a plus but pulls you out of the story. I’m getting up every fifteen minutes or so to refill drinks, provide meals/snacks, use the restroom, help four-year-old, et cetera.

At the theater, the lights go down and the magic begins. If one is lucky, no one ruins the movie by being on their phone or otherwise rude. Two hours later, you return to your normal, drab life (which is probably why I schedule marathon sessions).

So I have the best of both worlds. I can watch movies in the comfort of my home with a fabulous meal and periodically I can go to the theater. My life is pretty blessed.