By Andrew Martinez Cabrera
COVID-19 took a lot from us at the beginning of the pandemic. We became creative (and in some cases insane), with nothing to do but sulk. So as I sat down late last March and pondered the things I missed the most from a pre-pandemic world, at the top of that list was going to the movies.
There was always something comforting and heavenly about movie theaters in my eyes. Some of my best experiences or memories were made sitting in a movie theater. So when Cinemark announced that you can rent an entire auditorium for yourself and 20 other guests for the price of $90 and a movie of your choice, I was skeptical and interested to say the least. So I bought myself a ticket to Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and waited.
Once inside, I was hit with the familiar scent of buttered popcorn, as if it was welcoming me back. But something felt off: the theater felt like a ghost town, with the arcade machines dark, yellow caution tape guarding the sinks, and the concession stands looking deserted, with only two employees occupying the popcorn and cash register. But I understood that people still might not feel comfortable with the idea of going back, so I continued.
I arrived at auditorium two, seating myself directly in the middle. A Cinemark video played before the film, ensuring us that they made sure the room is in tip-top condition, primed for the best experience possible.
The MGM logo showed up, then the title “SPACEBALLS” flew into frame, and the lights… didn’t dim. The room never went dark. Directly above my head like the sword of Damocles was this giant spotlight, shining down on me, like it was God’s way of taunting me. I waited, thinking that it might take awhile. But scene after scene, line after line, the light kept shining. Did it bug me? Of course it did. Did I make it without going crazy? I managed. It killed the illusion a bit, but Mel Brooks kept me entertained, and slowly I got sucked back in into the movie theater experience. I left the theater satisfied, but something was missing. It was a spark. Sitting with strangers all enticed onto the same silver screen. For now, I’ll wait until we can all come back into the theater, safe and sound. And in a dark room… pretty please?