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Five and a half years a cinema slave

This is one obsession I doubt they have rehab for /Image: vintage.files.wordpress.com
This is one obsession I doubt they have rehab for /Image: vintage.files.wordpress.com

A movie addict shares his obsession

Article: Logan Vanghel – Contributor

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest we’re living in a resurgent era for television. Critics and viewers alike constantly sing the praises of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones, the Netflix model of simultaneous full season release. It’s hard to deny that it’s a wonderful time to be a TV fan, but personally I don’t give a shit; I’m not a TV guy.

I’m of the belief that you get one true passion in your life. The one thing that consumes all of your thoughts, and pounds with every beat of your pulse. And mine is not so dissimilar to television, especially what television has attempted to become in recent years.

But TV is not for me, because I prefer my character arcs and plots to be contained in neat 120-minute packages. I don’t have 120 hours to commit to a single show, I’m sorry. No, I am wholly and completely addicted to movies.

“Oh, yeah, I watch a lot of movies too!” you chuckle as you read this. No. I’m not a casual watcher. I’m not a “smoke a joint with friends on the odd weekend” user. I’m a passed-out-stone-cold-in-the-alleyway-on-a-winter-night-bloodshot-eyes-and-track-marks-looking-like-sleeves-type of movie addict.

It struck me in 2008. Five and a half years I’ve battled with the compulsion. In June of that year I began collecting my theater ticket stubs, placing them in albums alongside a 4×6 print of the movie poster and keeping a word document full of statistical proof of my insanity.

Since attending the U of R—two years down, two more to go—my statistical record keeping has fallen off, unfortunately, but my movie watching has not, despite the establishment’s best efforts both financially and in terms of free time available. I’ll dispense some of the statistics here, to assert my true position as the sick, compulsive movie-watching psychopath that I am.

Between June 6 2008 and today, Oct. 22, 2013, I have watched 469 movies in theater. That’s only in theater. I unfortunately haven’t kept track of DVDs, movies on TV and Netflix, and I regret that, but such as it is.

469 movies in theater, 129 of those were on opening Friday, a Thursday sneak peek or a one-time only showing. That’s 28 per cent of everything I’ve watched. 111 more movies I caught on opening weekend, that is to say the Saturday or Sunday following its release, which amounts to 51 per cent of everything I’ve seen. And 63 more I watched within 7 days of it being release. So that means 65 per cent of the 469 movies I’ve seen in theater in the past five and a half years I got to before they were a week old.

The longest I’ve gone between two movies in the theater since June 2008? 26 days. And that’s an oddity. The average amount of time between two shows is closer to seven or eight days. At my peak I was seeing (mathematically) 2.23 movies per week. My current number is closer to 1.5 movies per week.

Between Nov. 6, 2010 and Jan. 22, 2011, I had my best spree of opening weekend viewings, seeing 21 movies within 2 days of release. I’ve seen approximately 15 movies outside of Canada. Because I keep the tickets in an album, I prize those tickets that don’t come from my usual haunts.

The most common question, and the one I’m sure you’re asking is, “Boy, how much dough have you injected directly into Hollywood’s veins?” And I can give you that number: $3,949 on movie tickets alone. That doesn’t include concession, which would likely double that number at least. And I don’t regret a single penny. I relish every single cent and minute I’ve spent in a movie theater, I really do.

“It’s been an interesting ride, one that’s led me to majoring in film production here at the U of R so that someday maybe I can bring joy to the unappreciative masses texting in their seats at the Cineplex, and maybe recoup that $3,949 I’ve pumped into the studio system.” 

I bet a couple of you are saying “You sure are a sad, lonely man, Logan Vanghel. I pity you and everything you stand for.” But the truth is, 75 per cent of my 469 movies I’ve seen with friends, family, lovers, or casual encounters. That’s the upside to my addiction! Like alcoholism, I can imbibe among acceptable company on weekends as well as alone in a dark room on a Wednesday.

For a long time, my friends said to me “You should work at the theater, man! You’re there enough, you may as well get paid to be there.” And I laughed, and I told them “Don’t shit where you eat” but I finally broke down in October 2012 and got a job at the Galaxy. And you know what? I highly recommend shitting and eating in the same spot. Simultaneously, if the whim strikes!

In the year I’ve worked there, I’ve snagged 44 free movies. Double that, because I get to bring a friend. Multiply that by 12 (the cost of a movie ticket, ish) and I’m saving $1000 every year I work at the Galaxy. Best decision I ever made, brah.

So that’s the numbers, mostly. But any sports fan knows numbers aren’t the whole story. So I’ll give you some anecdotes, too, shall I? Like how my addiction has affected some of personal relationships.

Back in December 2010 I was dating a girl; we’d been together maybe a month and half. It was my first real, even semi-serious relationship. On the 20 and 21 of the month, I planned to see 4 movies in theater: Tron: Legacy, The Fighter, How Do You Know, and Black Swan. Well she texts the morning of the 20 wondering if I want to hang out. I say “Sure! Come to the theater!” She declines, wonders about the next day. I say “Sure! Come to the theater!” It was at this point she accused me of caring more about movies than I did about her. And it was at this point I realized that was the truth. We broke up a couple of weeks later.

A month after that I started bringing different girls to the movies. It was this unfortunate turn of events that led me to see such terrible excuses for movies as Gnomeo & Juliet and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I see pretty much everything, but I sure as hell wouldn’t have seen those.

I was able to use my powers for good once, after watching Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li. A critic once said of Chris Klein’s performance as Charlie Nash, by the way, “The first time I’ve seen an actor unconvincingly walk into a room.” That’s just the beginning of the movie’s problems.

Anyway, a day after seeing it, I overheard a Street Fighter fan talking to his friend about seeing it, and I strongly advised him not to, for the sake of his inner SF fan, and for his sake as a thinking human being. I’m still proud of robbing that movie of 11 bucks.

So that’s pretty much my journey. Movies great and terrible, separated by countless mediocre films. That’s all I ask for. These days my current girlfriend, thankfully, loves the theater almost as much as I do (and loves me almost as much as I do) so that makes feeding the addiction easier. It’s been an interesting ride, one that’s led me to majoring in film production here at the U of R, so that someday maybe I can bring joy to the unappreciative masses texting in their seats at the Cineplex, and maybe recoup that $3,949 I’ve pumped into the studio system.

I’ll leave you with one last anecdote, to prove just how insane I am. In late 2009 I found out my brother and his wife snuck into Brothers (Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhall) doing a “double feature” as it’s called. I was so outraged (the movie deserved their 20 dollars, damn it) that the next day I went into the theater and purchased two tickets for “Brothers” and tossed them in the trash.

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