There are still some things I don’t understand about the UK. Saturday night, Evan and I went to go Sweeney Todd. We bought our tickets well in advance of the show at the Odeon Marble Arch, and we went next door to have a cup of coffee before the film started. It was supposed to start at 6:10. At about 6:20, we decided to head over because the last time we went to that theater, we had to sit through 30 minutes of ads before we even saw the first preview. No kidding. 30 minutes. On movie tickets that cost about 10 pounds each.
And the ads aren’t the fun movie ads you’ll see in the U.S. once the lights go out. I remember the uproar over those — and there are usually only two or three of them, and they’ll be pretty clever Coke or L.A. Times commercials that are interesting to look at and segue to the previews pretty quickly. The TV-style ads, if there are any, will come on before showtime, when you’re just waiting around, munching on your popcorn with the lights on. And even those are usually broken up by movie trivia questions to keep you engaged.
I don’t remember the ads being quite 30 minutes when we went to see a movie at a Cineworld, maybe about 15 to 20 minutes, but the full 30 minutes of ads for beer, whiskey, cell phone service and chocolate bars were just infuriating. Worse, even, are some bizarre fear-mongering ads about excessive drinking and deadly accidents happening close to home that seem to be more dramatic than what anyone would air on TV. One ad had a guy pretending he was batman climbing up all sorts of scaffolding to fall to his death on the pavement below, focusing on his twisted body and warning about the perils of drinking too much (you can watch it here). Another involves a motorcycle slamming into a pole, paralyzing its rider on a seemingly ordinary day.
Then after you’re done watching your fill of ads, for a movie you’ve paid a nice sum for, then there are only two or three actual trailers before the movie starts. And while I don’t like watching commercials, I do enjoy seeing the new trailers.
And just as a contrast to the moviegoing experience, Evan and I stayed up until after 3 a.m. to watch the Super Bowl last night and didn’t see a commercial the entire game. The one place where you look forward to commercials! It was also sort of funny to have the show hosted by a pretty British boy. Ended up being an exciting game, too. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever actually watched the whole Super Bowl. I usually just go to a party and talk to people and eat.