It was practically a private screening. I arrived 25 minutes early and found myself alone in a multiplex auditorium, waiting to see Benjamin Bratt in La Mission. The independent drama, written and directed by Peter Bratt, has been out in certain cities for a while, but finally opened in a handful of theaters in my area (Dallas, Texas) this weekend. I wasn't surprised to be the only one in the theater, since early Friday evening screenings are typically sparsely attended at that particular multiplex. And La Mission didn't have the support of a studio-backed marketing campaign.
The audience doubled when another lone individual arrived a few minutes before the 7:05 p.m. start time. And ... that was it! Just the two of us in an auditorium with seats for at least 150. I was disappointed in behalf of the film, which proved to be a worthy character study about a man who must come to grips with his son's homosexuality and his own issues with violence and intolerance. Benjamin Bratt gives a very strong performance, as I've written elsewhere.
Strictly as a viewer, however, I had mixed feelings. Admittedly, it was awesome to sit where I wanted with no one blocking my view or disturbing the proceedings by talking or texting. The other gentleman in attendance sat in the row behind me, but was considerate enough to step out whenever he took a cell phone call. On the other hand, I missed the shared audience reactions, not just laughter or groans, but the feeling of a communal experience.
How about you? What's the fewest people you've shared a theatrical screening with? Was it an ideal experience, or did you miss sharing the moviegoing experience with a larger crowd? Do bigger crowds make it better?