Almost going to the movies

Kam and I almost went to see Everything Everywhere All at Once last night.

We’ve been hearing great things about the movie—in fact, such extremely great things that I’m having to discount them to set my expectations lower, because if I go into a movie with too-high expectations, I generally enjoy it less than I otherwise would have.

And the movie is leaving local theatres this week. And various people have said it’s worth seeing in a theatre—I don’t normally care much about the distinction between big screen and small screen as such, but even so, I like seeing movies in theatres.

And almost all of the recent showings have been in near-empty theatres. So I’ve been figuring that it wouldn’t be hard to find a weekday-matinee or late-night showing that’s completely empty. I would be okay with being in a theatre if there were nobody else in the audience.

I’ve been checking every available showing for the past several days. (Side note: I love that the local movie theatre has reserved seating, so you can see exactly how many seats are filled, and which ones, before deciding whether to buy a ticket.)

And by around 9 pm last night, the 10:20 pm showing was still completely empty.

So Kam came over. And as showtime approached, we prepared to head over to the theatre, but we checked the available seats one last time before leaving—

—and a dozen people had bought tickets in the preceding hour or so. (The theatre has roughly a hundred seats.)

So I waffled. We could have gone anyway, and tried to sit far away from everyone else. The theatre is big for a room (even though on the smaller side for a theatre), and I’m guessing it has decent ventilation. And we would have been wearing N95 masks.

But I finally decided that I wasn’t up for sharing air with even a dozen strangers for two and a half hours, even in a relatively big room.

The theatre’s COVID policy says:

“In accordance with the CDC recommendation, face masks are required for non-vaccinated guests and strongly encouraged for all other guests[…]. Masks may be removed when eating and drinking inside the auditorium.”

But “Proof of vaccination is necessary only where required by local mandates,” so in practice, this policy means that anyone who doesn’t feel like wearing a mask doesn’t have to. (And anyway, I suspect that that policy was written a while ago and is now outdated and they just haven’t updated their website. The county as a whole has been at “masks strongly recommended but not required” for a while now, and I think most businesses and people are treating that as “masks completely optional.”)

And in Santa Clara County, the case rate is surging again—it’s five times what it was at the recent low point in mid-March. The only two times that the case rate has been higher here were during the winter spikes at the end of 2020 and the end of 2021. Hospitalizations are also up (not going up as fast, but they tend to trail the case curve by about two weeks), and wastewater levels are going up pretty fast. (The deaths data for the past two months is marked as “preliminary,” so I’m leaving that out.)

So I reluctantly said let’s not go, and Kam was OK with that, and we stayed home and watched the final two episodes of Raising Dion season 2 instead.

But I was disappointed to have thought we had worked out an approach to seeing the movie that I was OK with, and then to have that approach turn out to be unavailable after all.

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