9 On playing games in the cinema:
The period before the movie begins is possibly the most important part of the film-going experience. At least two-thirds of the fun of two-thirds of the films lies in their anticipation – in finding odd little bits of gossip or pictures or finding a way to sneak into a preview screening. Everyone knows this, which is why trailers are such fun. I remember still the experience of seeing the Mission Impossible 2 trailer for the first time and the collective intake of breath that was heard across the theatre. And the film, well that was pretty lame.
But the moments before a film need not only be a passive experience, which is why I have decided to finally let people into the world of pre-movie games that I play in the cinema EVERY TIME I GO. [This is not a joke]
- Game One – guess the product.
This is not a game for the Americans amongst us, as I believe they don’t get adverts for cars and soft drinks before a movie starts. For the rest of us though, the game consists of being the first one to name the product that the advert is selling. Strategy and discipline are all important, as advertisers get more imaginative and yet still trickier. Using this time in order to point out logical inconsistencies or weirdnesses in the adverts is also considered appropriate during such matches. Adding dialogue when the soundtrack lulls (as in the Guinness advert with the surfers and the Leftfield soundtrack – at this point shout “bad pants!” if British) is a crucial way to increase camaraderie in these competitive times.
- Game Two – name the film production company or distrubutor
Times have changed since the hayday of this game, but the spirit remains the same. Those little bits at the beginnings of movies and trailers which spin around with a little jingle and resolve themselves into the name of the film company or distributor are just begging to be placed into a game. Watch for tricky ones: Tristar and Columbia are very similar (evil Sony), while Mandalay and Centropolis are incredibly simple.
- Game Three – name the trailer
Very much like “guess the product”, only with films, this game includes the possibility of scoring extra points for naming the movie before the trailer has even started. Take for example The Perfect Storm, Mars Attacks! or The Matrix – these have such distinctive Warner Brother’s logos beforehand that both production company AND film can be named at the same time for a double whammy!
But with all these games finally completed, sit back and relax, because you must be completely silent before the film actually begins…!