strong dumb take

The Best Time to See a Movie Is in the Morning

Photo: Michael Blann/Getty Images

This weekend, I went and saw The Favourite, and I learned so much. I learned about gout (painful) and duck races (cute, but bad, I think) and a little bit about British parliament (runs on wigs, secrets). But the most important thing I learned, hands down, is that the best time to go see a movie is early in the morning.

How early is early, you ask? As early as possible. Not like, 5 a.m. of course. That isn’t an option. Unfortunately, a lot of theaters don’t open until 11 a.m. or even later, which is terrible because, as you will come to see, movies should really start between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Maybe you will write your local theater after reading this, and ask them to change their hours to 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 pm, because after that, everyone should be in bed. I don’t know, that’s up to you.

Like so many critical life lessons, this one was entirely unexpected. Initially, I had intended to see The Favourite on Saturday night, at my favorite theater, one where you can buy drinks and meals during the film, which feels fancier than taking furtive sips from the water bottle of Yellowtail you stuffed up your sweater and sneaking bites of the cold turkey wrap you hid at the bottom of your bag.

Admittedly, the meal service is a both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, you get seated next to a man with a bad head cold who orders several boozy smoothies in a row, and you can barely hear Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett’s green velvet suit heisting over the slurpy gulps and deep, wet exhales. But sometimes you don’t. It’s a great theater.

When I went to buy my ticket, though, the movie was sold out. Ugh! I thought, and also said out loud to no one. I had errands to run the next day, so I couldn’t spend the whole afternoon in a theater. Then, I saw there was a 9:10 a.m. viewing.

In general, I am staunchly opposed to doing anything before noon on the weekends. Weekend mornings are, for me, a time for lying in bed, catching up on shows, or at the very most, going to a coffee shop and pretending to read but mostly people-watching and scrolling through Twitter. But I really wanted to watch Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone fight over Olivia Colman. Plus, I figured, going to a movie is really only an “activity” in the loosest sense of the word. You enter a warm, dark, enclosed space to sit and be fed and entertained for a couple of hours; it’s crawling back into the womb, only this time, there are more celebrities, and you have the ability to eat through your mouth instead of your belly button.

I bought my ticket — which was $4 cheaper than a Saturday night ticket — and on Sunday morning I put on a bra and mascara and brushed my teeth in an attempt to look put together, and to blend in with the rest of the pre-9 a.m. Sunday crowd. Walking through the morning joggers, the parents pushing strollers, and the hungover revelers ordering loaded bagels, I felt productive, like I was doing something with my day, and my life, even if that something was drinking Bloody Marys in a dark room for two hours.

There were only four other people in the 160-seat theater when I arrived. We each occupied our own empty section of seats, and avoided eye contact. They could have all gulped 20 smoothies in a row and I would have had no clue. We were blissfully alone, together.

The movie was as delightful as I had anticipated, but what was even more delightful was emerging at 11:30, and realizing that I still had a whole day ahead of me. Since I was already dressed, I felt far more energized than I usually do on a Sunday. I got home and did laundry and cleaned and went grocery shopping and called my parents and spent a lot of time on my bed Wikipedia-ing Olivia Colman.

There are so many lies out there about movies — that they make good date nights (they don’t); that Gravity was good (it wasn’t); and that going to the theater is an afternoon or evening pursuit. Don’t listen to them! Morning movies are cheaper, and less crowded, and overall more enjoyable. They’re an indulgence that still allows for productivity, a way to relax that still leaves you time to get everything you need done that day. The next time you have a free morning, front-load your fun and start your day in a cool, dark room with a handful of strangers, watching beautiful people play pretend.

The Best Time to See a Movie Is in the Morning