Arriving early for a 7:00 p.m. screening at a local multiplex on Friday, I decided to kill some time by sampling some of the other movies that were playing. Feeling like a criminal, I snuck into Surrogates (a small ship crashing, a very young-looking Bruce Willis), The Final Destination (white racist hung by his own petard), and Gamer (John Leguizamo giving Gerard Butler a pep talk). I stayed no more than two or three minutes at each, about the length of a theatrical trailer, and didn't sit down in any of the auditoriums, which were all pretty deserted anyway. Later, near the end of my selection for the evening's entertainment (Zombieland, a lighthearted comedy-horror blast), I saw a familiar multiplex sight: a half-dozen teens sneaking into the movie. And I started thinking, Why not make theater hopping legal?
My idea: You still must buy one ticket to a movie of your choice, and that's the only movie you're guaranteed to see. But the legal language ("the license granted is for a single viewing at the designated time only") is removed, so if that movie sucks, you're free to wander into another auditorium and check out what's playing there. Or bounce in and out of theaters as you please. And if you want to see two (or three) complete movies for the price of one, you're free to do so.
Would this benefit moviegoers? Sure. This will legalize something a good number of people are already doing. Just like downloading music or movies, pirates will still exist, but a majority of folks are law-abiding citizens who prefer to live within the law. People who've paid $9.50 to see a real turkey may not feel quite so ripped-off if they get to see another movie (or part of one) for free.