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Movie theaters provide all sorts of memorable experiences

During the recent Labor Day weekend, I did something I haven’t done since the pandemic started last year. I went to the movies.

Before COVID changed everything, making a trip to the movie theater was one of my favorite activities. Some people prefer to watch movies in the comfort of their own homes, but I’ve just always enjoyed the experience of going somewhere to see a story play out on the big screen. Maybe it helps that I tend to pick the earliest, least crowded movie times so that there’s not always an obnoxious crowd to deal with.

In any case, I’m glad I was able to have an opportunity to go to the movies again. Is anyone surprised that my first movie theater experience since 2019 was the latest one from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? I watched “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” at the local theater in Roanoke Rapids, and I definitely think the movie was worth the wait.

But being back in a movie theater also made me nostalgic about my movie-going experiences of the past. Whether I went by myself or with a group, there have been quite a few unforgettable moments along the way. Even if the movie details get fuzzy over time, some memories of being there still remain as vibrant as if it was yesterday.

So, just for fun, I’ve put together a list of my Top Eight most memorable movie experiences (narrowed down, of course, to just MCU movies… because if I listed everything, we’d run out of room on this page!)

8.) My first Marvel movie was not “Iron Man,” the story which kicked off the entire franchise. Instead, it was “Thor” which was released in 2011. I was still in college at the time, and wasn’t too far from the local movie theater. A friend invited me to go with her, and at the time, I had no idea what I was getting into!

7.) In November 2017, I happened to make a spur of the moment trip to Washington, DC to visit my best friend. Luckily for us, “Thor: Ragnarok” was in theaters at the same time, and she invited me to go see it with her while I was in town. I remember being annoyed that the tickets cost SO MUCH but also thrilled that the seats reclined. (Local theaters, please consider this upgrade but without raising ticket prices please!)

6.) “Black Panther” was released in February 2018, and I definitely was not the only person excited to see it. I drove to the theater in Rocky Mount to see it, planning on attending the earliest Saturday morning showing they had to avoid the crowds. Imagine my surprise when that showing was already sold out when I arrived! So I had to hang out until the next one, waiting patiently along with the rest of the full theater for our start time. And there were plenty of cheers all around when it began!

5.) Speaking of sold out theaters, the only other time I got stuck attending a later showing was when my brother and I went to see “Avengers: Age of Ultron” at a theater in Raleigh in 2015. I remember seeing people dressed up in cosplay while waiting in line. Big city movie experiences certainly are much different than they are here, right?

4.) I actually saw “Age of Ultron” in theaters twice, but the second time was a lot more… interesting. I took a friend to a local theater which used to often have issues with technical difficulties. And boy, were there technical difficulties with this one! The first hour of the movie was in the wrong aspect ratio, so the image on screen was zoomed in a lot more than it should have been!

3.) “The Avengers” in 2012 is the movie which solidified how much I enjoyed the franchise. Again, these were my college days and it wasn’t uncommon to run into fellow students at the theater. So I wasn’t surprised to see a classmate sitting behind me, especially because I knew he was a big comic book fan. Such a big fan, in fact, that he started hyperventilating with joy to see the villain in the post-credits cameo! I had to turn around to check if he was okay. (He was okay)

2.) It’s not unusual to stick around through the credits to wait for the infamous post-credit scenes. But I’ll never forget when I went to see “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018 and watched a young kid do cartwheels down the aisle as everyone was waiting for the credits to end. I still wonder if the parents had snuck out for a bathroom break…

1.) Somehow, it was “Iron Man 3” in 2013 which remains the most memorable movie theater experience for me. I attended with a handful of people, and it was so crowded that we ended up sitting almost in the front row (you can really see all of Gwyneth Paltrow’s freckles that way). And the person sitting beside me answered his phone during the movie! That’s the only time I’ve ever personally seen that happen, and you can bet I glared directly at the person until he ended the call.

Whether it’s good or bad, a trip to the movies is always entertaining somehow. I’ve really missed that during the pandemic.

We certainly aren’t out of the woods yet though, so I took precautions to feel safer at the theater, including wearing my mask the whole time and keeping my distance from others. (It was luckily not crowded.) This latest Marvel movie just added one more memorable experience to my list, and I’ll certainly never forget it!

 Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.