Random Question: How Far Would You Drive Just to See One Movie?

Last Thursday Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life was released here in New Zealand… but only to indie cinemas. And unfortunately, there is no indie cinema in the city in which I live. So, if I want to see it in cinema, I’ll have to drive three hours (207km (128 miles), according to Google Maps) to the nearest city with an arthouse theatre. Normally I wouldn’t think about doing that for just one movie, but this is The Tree of Life, and I’ve been told by one person that you either see it in the theatre or not at all, so what do I do? At the moment, I’m still not sure, so I thought I’d ask you guys. I’m gonna present you with a poll, asking you how far is too far to drive to watch a movie. Comments are below as well if you’d like to leave one. Here’s the poll:

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Posted on August 29, 2011, in Movies, Random Question and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. I’ve got all the cinema’s near where I live and as the Netherlands are not that big it won’t happen a lot that I got to make a long journey. A 2 hour drive is a lot to see a movie!

    Personally I would not drive 2 hours to see Tree of Life as I did not enjoy watching it.

    • Yes, well you’re lucky. We have a nice big cinema here in my city but it doesn’t show indie movies. I can only suppress so much rage.

  2. Well you know me, I have to get my mother or father to drive me an hour over to Palmy so I can go to the movies. And to do that, I have to pay them some money for the petrol. So yeah, I only go if my parents are going over to Palmy or if there is a movie that I really want to see (I actually paid my father $50 so I could go and see Inception on opening day, haha). Oh how I wish I wasn’t such a nervous driver…

    But for The Tree of Life? Yeah, it’s probably better in theatres. And yeah, it’s a great movie. Seriously, if you can find the time and really want to see the movie, then do it. It was worth the horrible drive over the most horrible road in the North Island (damn you Gorge, why’d you have to be shut?) to see it.

    • Haha, LOL, that’s funny. My parents would never drive me hours to see a movie. I remember when my sister got her license, I was bothering her to take me places and she always got really pissed off at me.

      Still not sure if we’re going to make the trip. It’ll cost a fair bit with petrol and all. It depends how long it’s going to be playing at that Dunedin theatre. How long do you reckon it’ll stay there before they stop showing it, if you had to estimate?

  3. I am very fortunate to live about 15 minutes from an excellent art house—contained in a spacious 19th-century town hall auditorium, an excellent environment for movie watching. (Also: free classic movies on Saturday afternoons, and a criminally cheap refreshment counter!) Stranger still, my town also has one of the few remaining drive-ins in all of New England, very nearly within walking distance (though of course taking a car is the whole point).

    • Wow. I’m very jealous. The local cinema is just a five minute drive away but if you want arthouse then you’ll have to wait for the DVD.

      Seriously, though. You are amazingly lucky if all those things were true. A drive in? Seriously? I can only dream of drive ins!

  4. which city are you in tyler? i complain about perth, we all feel so hard done by here but from recent posts by you and stevee i know we are so very lucky to be a city with multiple choices in entertianment (we now have a microcinema too!) including several indie cinemas and as i mentioned to stevee outdoor cinema all summer.

    and a drive-in that we never use. i feel suitably ashamed.

    as for the question, we drove a long way to see A Serious Man a couple of years ago when we were in england. it’s worth it. cost wise for you however i’m not so sure. theres no cheap train option or something?

    • I live in Invercargill, at the south of the country. There’s no train or tram or anything. If you wanna get somewhere, you either fly or drive.

    • Haha, well, maybe. It would be a bit of an endeavour, but I could give it a shot.

      • Its definitely worth investigating something, there’s got to be a film society or 2 that could get involved. Even if its just something like japecake mentioned in an old town hall specialising in classics once a week. I’m gonna head to the microcinema and assess the ability to reproduce it in a smaller population area if you like?

        I don’t know much about you tyler but if its something that’s of interest we should discuss it. Send me an email or something

      • There have been a couple of occasions recently when I considered taking it up with the City Council, but I didn’t think anyone would be interested. I’m not sure if its the same as just opening up a cornershop business; you’ve got to get the opinion of the public; perhaps there are a certain amount of people who agree with me.

        There are a few Rialto cinemas across New Zealand, but not one here in Invercargill, so I suppose I could write a letter to Rialto to inquire, but I’m not going to bother if it’s going to be a dead end. I could be the only person interested in having an indie cinema here; the people around me that I know are just fine with our normal cinema, so it’s hard to say whether anyone else will be interested.

        I do think opening a Rialto cinema here is a good idea though, especially since I read in the paper a couple of months ago that Invercargill will be host to the world premiere of a movie that was filmed down here.

  5. Hi, Tyler and company:

    It all boils down to the perceived quality of the film, viewing experience and availability of theaters.

    I believe the farthest and longest I have traveled to catch a flick was going to the Old Georgetown Theater in Washington, DC to catch the premiere of ‘Apocalypse Now’. Usually a 35 minute drive from my home in suburban MD. Traffic and parking around the theater added another 15 minutes to view the best version of Coppola’s classic. With an awesome, slow motion Arc Light air strike on Kurt’s village during the final credits that has been sadly missing in later editions.

    Still have the eight page Playbook from the film and that memorable weekday evening.

    • Normally I wouldn’t travel three hours to see a film but this is TREE OF LIFE. When it comes to Terrence Malick, the cinema’s the only option.

      Wow, I’d have loved to have been at the APOCALYPSE NOW premiere. Unfortunately I wasn’t born then.

  6. I’m lucky, I had to drive only 25 minutes to the indie theater. 3 hours is certainly a very long way for a movie Tyler. Maybe, organize a day out to that city so you don’t go there just for a movie but It’s up to you. It’s certainly a movie that’s visually stunning and benefits from being seen in theater but I wouldn’t mind watching it on DVD either.

    • Yeah, it’s still a decision we have to make. There are malls up there (and an awesome little indie DVD store) so we might make a day of it.

  7. The Tree of Life was actually playing in a theater near me that was about 15 minutes away, but I wanted to see Midnight in Paris first. Sadly, a couple days later, The Tree of Life was actually out of theaters. I really hope when I Netflix it, it isn’t like some amazing spectacular that you have to see on the big screen. At least Midnight in Paris was a brilliant film, and one of Woody’s best.

    • See, that’s what I heard, that it must be seen in the theatre preferably. If it was just another indie comedy I could rent on DVD I wouldn’t be making a fuss.

  8. Hmm… I’d go a half hour, maybe an hour tops. And to drive an hour, it’d require something special. Like the filmmaker would need to be there doing a Q&A or something.

    • Normally I’d be the same. But I really love Malick, and I’d rather see this on the big screen than on DVD, if you know what I mean.

  9. A drive-in is actually not a great place to “see” a movie (especially something “serious” or subtle) for a real cinemaphile; the sound is generally poor, the picture is often iffy (the “throw” could be hundreds of yards), and there are plenty of distractions. But that’s hardly the point; it’s all about the experience. One of the greatest things about drive-ins, especially in their prime, were the sometimes insanely elaborate playgrounds–even including things like carnival-style rides–set up right in front of the screen, so that kids could have fun before the movie started. (OK, I’m really dating myself here, but my sister and I begged our parents us to take us to see The Amityville Horror when it came out–the real one, with James Brolin and Margot Kidder and that creepy Lalo Schifrin score–at a time when we were far too young to handle it. We saw it in the drive-in, and I barely got any sleep for weeks after that.) The real key to the drive-in experience is to see the right kind of movie there. Malick, Herzog, Bergman, no; slasher movie, teen sex comedy, 70s exploitation, yes. Sometimes the food choices were really nutty; in addition to standard movie fare, you could get things like awful pizza and oversized dill pickles and egg rolls (sold under the brand name Flavos–“They’re shrimply delicious!). If you ever have the opportunity, definitely take advantage. It’s the closest thing to stepping back in time you’re ever likely to experience.

  10. Ouch. It seems the crap reputation Invers has is totally justified. People say there’s nothing to do up here but I can at least see The Tree of Life in Arrowtown if I wanted.

    I wasn’t looking forward to this film at all but your plight has made me see how things like small cinemas shouldn’t be taken for granted and I might just be inspired to go.

    I think the real question should be how far is far enough to escape Invercargill.

    • I never really hated this city until the whole no-indie-cinema thing became an issue for me. I don’t consider it a shithole, but it’s not as good as other places around the country.

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