'Corny!" whispered the woman sitting behind me to to her husband during Sandra Bullock's climactic scene in her new comedy, "All About Steve."
"Next time, we're going to the chick flick!" was the overheard comment as I exited Gerard Butler's new cyber thriller, "Gamer," the next night.
Aside from providing opportunities for eavesdropping, the signs weren't auspicious for this week's new movie openings. Add the fact that on Friday, Kaahumanu 6 showed the UH football season opener on one of its screens, and it was clear that going to the movies is a whole new ball game.
Showing UH games - Kaahumanu 6 will be doing the whole season - is an idea that gets better the more you think about it. You're going to have to pay to see most of the games on your own TV anyway. Unlike sports bars, you can bring the kids.
In auditorium seating, with the high-def image on the 25-foot screen, surrounded by like-minded Warrior fans, you can get a lot more folks than will fit around the new big-screen in your living room - and you don't have to provide the guacamole.
Why, it's virtually like being at the game itself, only cheaper. Tickets are $10, there's no airfare.
Showing football is Consolidated Theaters' latest innovation in recent months. It follows the decision at the beginning of summer to screen indie or foreign films - like the current, award-winning documentary, "The Cove"- at Kukui Mall 4. Huge crowds have yet to materialize, but hats off to Consolidated for thinking outside the box.
Not that any of this is going to restore the glamour and glory to your basic movie-going experience.
For openers, movie-going is no longer required. Now the movies can come to you. To go or not to go? That is the question.
Blame Netflix. It has changed not only the way we select, get and watch movies, but the whole economic equation in Hollywood. It's having an effect on how films are marketed, and soon will influence how they're made.
Ironically, the revolution triggered by Netflix was based on the oldest of communication technologies: the mail. Now Netflix is facing competition from rentals in vending machines. Of course, all of this is only an interim phase to delivering movies online.
It wasn't that many years ago that the word, much less the concept, of Netflix didn't exist. A few short years before that, we had to get our movies in bulky VHS format from Blockbuster which, in turn, had buried so many mom-and-pop (with high school clerks) neighborhood rental places.
It feels so quaint now to recall a time when if you wanted to watch a movie, you had no choice but to go to a theater. The dark ages, you might say, since movie theaters have to be dark to see the screen.
Like a modern-day Don Quixote armed with a movie projector instead of a sword, Maui Film Festival Director Barry Rivers has been jousting with the windmill of Netflix for years.
With his fondness for metaphor, Barry frames it as a choice between joining the tribe for stories around the campfire, or staying holed up in your own cave (with the high-def, plasma-screen drawings on the wall).
As much as I'm on Barry's side of this one - thinking movies need to be communal, ritualistic, larger-than-life, seen in a theater surrounded by strangers sharing the emotional ride - the studios would rather that you buy the DVD. That way, they don't have to split the ka-ching with the theaters.
You can trace the modern era of movie economics back to 1977. George Lucas, disappointed that 20th-Century Fox wasn't doing more to promote this new movie he had made called "Star Wars," secured the merchandising rights himself. He thought he'd run off a few T-shirts or something.
It didn't take long to discover there was more money to be made in merchandise than in selling tickets. Now the movies themselves are the merchandise. The theatrical run is like a trailer, or preview, eventually leading - especially if Netflix would just get out of the way - to selling the DVD.
Which may be why going to a multiplex feels a lot like a trip to Old Navy these days, divided right down the middle by gender. Nobody's coined a male movie label nearly as good as "chick flick" yet, (the ones that rhyme aren't printable in a family newspaper), but date night has become a gentle battle between the sexes fought at the box office. Sandra edged out Gerard this week but couldn't beat the guy noise of "Final Destination" or "Inglorious Basterds."
A few months from now, the gender wars will take place over a little red envelope in the mailbox.
In the meantime, it sure is getting lonely out here by the campfire.
* Contact Rick Chatenever at firstname.lastname@example.org.