Tag Archives: movie theater

Movies we remember

The first movie I remember seeing at a theater was The Sound of Music, which came out in 1965. I was 9 and going to the movies was, for my family, a really big deal. My dad was a full-time graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder. My mother worked as a secretary at our church. My parents struggled to make ends meet. So entertainment was typically anything that didn’t cost extra money — picnics in the mountains, neighborhood kickball games and potluck dinners at church.

With my parents and brothers during our Boulder years.

But at some point that spring, we all dressed up in our very best clothes, bundled into the car and turned onto the Denver-Boulder Turnpike for the drive into the big city (about 27 miles as the crow flies). We were with family friends Ivan and Doris Force, who were a bit older than my parents and always treated us like family. I don’t know (nor would any of the adults had told me) if the outing was the Forces’ treat, but I suspect it was.

What I do remember is my sense of awe as we entered the darkened theater and sat, quietly obedient, on the velvety seats. And my complete, enraptured attention as I watched the magical Julie Andrews sing and dance her way through a movie that touched on themes I was far too young to fully comprehend.

The lessons I took away from that experience were these: That movies are very special treats. That music, dancing and a positive attitude can fix almost anything. That falling in love is thrilling, especially if you are “16 going on 17.” And that love is stronger than grief, stronger than duty and stronger than evil.

I was just shy of being old enough to understand the bigger things that were going on that year. Malcom X was assassinated just weeks before The Sound of Music first opened in New York City. Six days after it opened, the first 3,500 Marines arrived in South Vietnam. Later that year, the Beatles released the Help! album and the world certainly needed it.

The narcissism of childhood — and perhaps overly protective parents — kept me blissfully ignorant of these matters. I hummed “Doe, a Dear” and “Raindrops on Roses” and all was well in my world.

So if someone asked me my favorite family film, I would have to say “The Sound of Music.” It is reassuring to know that, even in 2011, it still makes the cut.

We asked readers to tell us their favorite family movie for a chance to win tickets to one of the Valley’s UltraStar Cinemas. The Sound of Music was the movie most often submitted.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of others that were mentioned:

Airplane
Aladdin
Beauty and the Beast
Because of Winn-Dixie
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Chicken Little
Christmas Vacation
Elf
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter (series)
Home Alone
Mary Poppins
Monsters, Inc.
Secretariat
Shrek
Tangled
The Incredibles
The Lion King
The Wizard of Oz
Toy Story
Up
Where the Wild Things Are
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

What is your favorite family movie–and your favorite movie memory?

It could have been “Beastly,” but it wasn’t

A young girl who lives about as far north as you can get in the northwest Valley went to Tempe to see a movie with her dad.

There are movie theaters closer to their house, of course, but this particular movie, on this particular day, wasn’t playing anywhere else.

It was one of those movies they call “sneak previews.” Promoters, like Barclay Communications, make tickets available to media outlets, like Raising Arizona Kids. We help build “the buzz” about the movie by promoting ticket giveaways in print, online and through social media. Families who win tickets get to see a free movie before it opens to the public.

This girl’s mom won tickets to Monday night’s sneak preview screening of the film “Beastly,” starring teen heartthrob Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens from “High School Musical” fame and Mary-Kate Olsen. (The movie opens in theaters on Friday, Mar. 4.)

The girl was really excited about this “date night” with her dad, who agreed to drive her across town (45 minutes each way) to see a movie marketed to tween- and teenage girls. They had guaranteed tickets, but for some reason the person they talked to at the theater didn’t understand and told them all the seats were filled. Disappointed, they went home.

That could have been the end of the story. But the girl’s mom wrote to me to tell me what happened. She was direct, but respectful. She was frustrated, but avoided blame. She told me her story, she said, because “I just wanted to give you this feedback. My daughter was in tears.” She didn’t ask for a thing, not even an email in response.

When I told Alison Frost, manager of Barclay’s entertainment division, what happened, she responded immediately, in the most positive and professional way possible.

“I am sorry to hear he was turned away but I don’t understand why,” she wrote. “I was there, and we had all the RSVPs for RAK on a list,  and [this name] was on it, and all seating was guaranteed. My guess is that there was some miscommunication between him and theatre…I was going back and forth escorting winners in, so I’m not sure what happened.  I would actually like to speak to him to see what exactly transpired, because I’m a bit surprised and would also like to apologize. I don’t know if you noticed, but I always include my cell number on all winner letters so if any problems arise, I can address them on site.”

I’m not using the family’s name because, well, it turns out the dad didn’t look at the ticket voucher and didn’t realize he had a cell phone number for the lady in charge. And I don’t want to embarrass him for not reading directions. (“Men!!” as his wife wrote back later, when she fully understood what happened.)

What I will do, however, is share how this incident ended. Because we at Raising Arizona Kids never want to be the source of any child’s tears, we are sending the family some movie passes they can use to see “Beastly” (or any other movie) whenever they like. And because Alison Frost feels the same way, she messengered over a box of “Beastly” promotional items — a T-shirt, a Wii game, a “Beastly” mask and other logo items — that a northwest Valley girl will be very surprised to see when it arrives at her home later this week.