Without cheap flicks, movies are an investment

If you caught me sobbing uncontrollably at the end of the summer, it was due to the announcement Battle Creek’s Cheap Flicks movie theater was closing its doors. The area’s best entertainment value “where all seats are just three dollars” would be no more.

Was I alone in mourning the passing of this unique venue that enabled me to spend an enjoyable evening at the movies without spending a fortune? I could afford to take along my children and a handful of their friends. It was nice to take in an evening show, too, not just the cheaper matinees at other theaters, which still required stopping to pick up and cash in pop bottles on the way there to afford the show.

Sure, Cheap Flicks was getting dilapidated. The flooring had seen better days, the seat padding was thinning and the big screens were battle-scarred. Really, whole place felt sticky. However, the outrageously low admission and snack prices helped me conform to budget, which, in turn, enhanced my willingness to overlook just about anything.

Had they fixed it up, the place might have lost its appeal to those on fixed incomes, from seniors, to single-parents, to young dating couples looking for an excuse to sit close in a darkened room. I preferred the bargain prices and shabby chic to the first-class flight seating and sky-high prices that are rapidly becoming the movie industry norm.

Cheap Flicks felt more like camping than a five-star hotel. I appreciated the simplicity of having only one flavor of popcorn salt and extra salt packets you could pocket and take with you into the movie to gradually add salt, rather than over-salting your popcorn on top and then unsuccessfully shaking the bejesus out of it to redistribute salt to the lower layers.

I loved that if I missed a first-run movie, which frequently happened, I could catch it a month later at Cheap Flicks. It was also fun to watch “coming attractions” for movies I had already seen, noting how much they differed from the preview. And, if a movie turned out to be a real stinker, I was out only three bucks.

We used to ask for Cheap Flick gift certificates at Christmas, thereby making this most economical of options an even sweeter deal. But that’s all gone now and I’m left with reclining theater seating that’s suitable for royalty, overwhelming surround sound systems, and mortgage-sized movie ticket prices. What will they think of next?!

Recently, following an unexpected infusion of cash, I went to a regular movie theater and took along one of my children. Okay, I just wanted someone to send for popcorn refills, because you never know the best time to make a popcorn or bathroom run.

When the pre-preview ads popped up before the movie, one of the products touted was a pharmaceutical solution to overactive bladders. But if the bladder drug’s list of side-effects sounded too prohibitive, it was suggested we instead get the new “RunPee” app.

What?! Just like it sounds: a special phone application that shows the best window(s) of time to leave the movie while you can, to get to the can. No kidding! I Googled that high-tech, high-alert app as soon as I got home (after using the bathroom, of course).

According to the RunPee.com website, a guy by the name of Dan, his mother and his sister watch newly-released movies and make notes of the 1-4 minute most leaveable intervals during current movies. They convert their findings into an application that can be accessed via SmartPhones. How smart is that?

I picture Dan from RunPee speaking to students at an elementary school career day. “Well boys and girls, I earn a living by watching movies. Not to enjoy them, but to figure out the best times when to step out and take a whiz.” Oh, Mr. Dan. I want to scout potty breaks, too, when I grow up!

What would happen if everyone in the theater had the RunPee app and all left for the bathroom at the suggested stated time to pee. “Stampeed!” I nearly peed my pants laughing at the thought! I’d better get the RunPee app for better bladder control.

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