The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

An open letter to Popcorn after watching Gravity

with 24 comments


Dear Popcorn!

I’m writing to you to let you know that I’ve had enough.

For years I’ve been trying to be tolerant. Knowing how badly the theatres are depending on the income from the snack sales, I’ve patiently endured the effects of your presence:

  • I’ve told myself that the rustling is discrete, barely noticeable if you compare it to nachos or bacon crisps. Most movies these days have enough of explosions or drums in the soundtrack to cover for it.
  • I’ve tried to think of your smell as a part of the movie going experience that actually helps you to get into the mood.
  • I’ve shrugged at the popcorn litter all over the floor. It could be worse. At least it isn’t sticky like chewing gum or soda.

You have to believe me; I’ve really done my best to be accepting to you and to the theatre visitors who choose to bring you to the screenings. After all: watching a film is a social experience. If you can’t tolerate any evidence of the presence of other human beings in the room, you should probably rather watch movies at home in solitude.

But this time you’ve gone too far. All I say is: Gravity.

Don’t pretend to be innocent. We both know what happened.

You were there. You knew what a special movie it is; you know how it opens in dead silence. And yet you went to see it. Perhaps that’s what drew you there in the first place? Maybe this was your intention all this time: to get maximal attention from everyone in the audience.

This was your chance to finally take control of an audience consisting of three hundred people, each one listening intensely at every rustle, every bite, every shake-about.

And how successful weren’t you? I’ve been going to the theatre for decades, but this was the first time that I encountered a Popcorn performance on this level. You owned it from the start, turning the salon into the next object of a swarm of mutant termites, devouring everything that crossed their path. For the first ten minutes I was convinced that the munching insects would become visible any minute and we’d have to flee for our lives as the building crumbled.

You almost had me there.

Hadn’t it been for the splendour of this film, you would have succeeded ruining it for me.

As it was, I became too involved to even care about you. I wasn’t in the room anymore; I was far out in space, for the first time ever experiencing 3D that added to the immersion rather than taking away anything from it. I was there with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, fighting for my own survival and at the same time soaking my soul in the beauty and majesty of the infinite void. So vulnerable, so much alive, so distant and yet so close. The sound of Popcorn became the least of my problems. My mind was elsewhere.

Agains all odds, your attempt to spoil this movie failed.

But the fact remains: I hate you. And I hate the staff at the theatre that didn’t have the insight and courage to stop you at the door, saving this special theatre experience from your evil attacks. Couldn’t they have made an exception, just this one time, offering marshmallows to people with an eating disorder that requires them to eat constantly?

My days as a popcorn apologist are over. From now on I’ll show no mercy with popcorn in theatres.

The war is on.

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, US 2013) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

November 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Gravity

24 Responses

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  1. Haha! The war is on!!! I couldn’t agree more Jessica. I’ve got your back on this one 😉

    Mark Walker

    November 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

  2. This is brilliant! Links to a post I made back in May about Popcorn! ( It really does make a difference which type of film it is when choosing to buy popcorn!


    November 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    • That’s a lovely post! Now that war has been declared I’m basically not accepting any kind of popcorn at any point. But if it wasn’t for that I think popcorn warnings as a piece of consumer information is a very good idea.


      November 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      • I totally agree! My thoughts are personally if your eating it during a quiet film you aren’t going to be able to hear it yourself!


        November 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm

  3. I went to see 12 Years a Slave yesterday and there were people happily munching on their popcorn for the first half hour or so. That film and Gravity are probably the two worst movies to crunch through at the movies this year. Just horrible! The movie was great, though (and so is Gravity).

    Alex Thompson

    November 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    • Oh dear. That movie hasn’t opened here yet, but thanks for the warning. Not that there’s much you can do about it. Try to find a place as far away as possible from anyone else in the audience perhaps.


      November 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm

  4. Haha, great post. I read this while waiting for take away food at a restaurant and laughed out loud when I came to the line “But the fact remains: I hate you.”

    It’s funny, I usually isn’t so bothered by the sound of popcorn and other sounds. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

    Glad you liked Gravity. It’s a testament to its greatness considering the circumstances under which you watched it. 🙂


    November 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    • Thanks! I didn’t quite know what to write since the movie left me breathless (for real, I was really struggling to get enough air into my lungs when it finished, panting as if I had been in it). It’s so hard to capture in a review though, so I more or less bailed out with a popcorn attack instead. I’m sure I’ll get back to this film though when it’s time to make the top-of-the-year list. It’s currently my number 1, of course.


      November 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm

  5. Awesome Jessica. I had a popcorn eater just above me. It took all my concentration to ignore him. Life in a movie theater in 2013 is a trial of patience.


    November 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    • I know. 😦 It feels so unfair because I’m a very loyal customar. I really prefer to watch movies on a big screen, particularly in cases like this. I’m ok with the ticket fees. But the sound of popcorn is killing me sometimes.


      November 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm

  6. I don’t eat popcorn at the movies. Especially serious ones. It’s only because I don’t spend money on anything other than a movie ticket.


    November 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    • That’s another good reason of course. At least in Sweden the price for popcorn is ridiculous. If you make them at home you can cut it to a fraction of it – and besides you can put it in a plastic bag that doesn’t rustle as much.


      November 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      • Exactly though I was able to sneak in a bag of plantain chips and a Coke at a recent screening of Captain Phillips only because it was my lunch and it was during the previews.


        November 4, 2013 at 6:06 am

  7. Great post. Good on you to declare war on popcorn. Nosiy moviegoers are the worst, and popcorn plays a big part in their behavior.


    November 3, 2013 at 11:49 pm

  8. My thought exactly — Gravity is really a trial for the modern cinema audience who is accustomed to be able to munch non stop.

    Perhaps one could start some sort of grass root movement — Popcorn for Raisins? 😉 At least that would remove the crunch and rustle factor.


    November 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    • … and the theatres wouldn’t lose a lot since raisins like popcorn really make you thirsty.


      November 4, 2013 at 11:47 pm

  9. This is spot on, Jessica. I was watching Gravity and was nearly loosing it with all the popcorn eating noise. I too brought popcorn, but obviously I didn’t eat it while the film was completely silent! I thought the initial quote “in space there’s nothing to carry sound” [or something like that] could work as pretty big hint for everyone. Guess not.

    Just on Saturday something similar happened — I watched Captain Phillips, and a group of parents had the brilliant idea of bringing their 15 kids along to the theatre. Needless to say they were constantly talking, going in and out of the room, and laughing at the most inappropriate times. There should be an “inspector” in every room to prevent this stuff.


    November 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    • Ewww 15 kids to see Captain Philips! It sounds aweful. And crue to the kids as well. It’s really NOT a movie suitable for kids imo.


      November 4, 2013 at 11:45 pm

  10. Reason number 581 why you’d love the TIFF Lightbox: They hold several screenings food-free screenings – especially ones where sound/silence is key.

    Love this piece!

    Ryan McNeil

    November 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    • Thanks Ryan! That sounds awesome! I’m afraid there’s no Lightbox where I live. The Swedish market is dominated by one chain that doesn’t hesitate selling as much popcorn as they possibly can. There aren’t many alternatives around.


      November 4, 2013 at 11:44 pm

  11. “My days as a popcorn apologist are over. From now on I’ll show no mercy with popcorn in theaters.”

    I was laughing out loud the whole way through this post. I’m so happy when you blog, Jessica.

    When I saw “12 Years A Slave” there people eating popcorn. So many of them! I just couldn’t understand it! I wanted to shout at them: “How can you eat popcorn during a movie like THIS?! It makes no sense!”


    November 5, 2013 at 1:42 am

    • Awww thanks Nick.
      I’ve heard about the popcorn warnings regarding 12 Years A Slave and I’ll do whatever I can to stay as far as way as possible from other people as I watch it. I’ll take a seat in a remote corner of the room.


      November 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

  12. […] 1. Gravity Am I a shallow person for loving Gravity slightly more than 12 Year a Slave? Maybe. But is my comfort blanket and biggest fear in equal measures. I neglect it, I ignore it, I forget about it at times. But it’s always present. Gravity reconnected me to space, and thus to myself. Besides it was a hell of a ride and I’ll never think of 3D the same way again. I don’t regret putting it as my number one. That’s how I felt about it, and there’s nothing I can do about it. My only regret is not watching it multiple times in a theatre when I had the chance. […]

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