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Tickets, Anyone?

by Leonard Maltin
April 30, 2012 2:51 PM
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The news that Fandango, the company that sells admissions to movies online, is expanding its use of “paperless tickets,” using bar codes for smart phones instead, makes perfect sense…but doesn’t make me happy. There goes another facet of the moviegoing experience: tickets!

Mind you, I haven’t received a decent-looking admission ticket in years; what you get nowadays would better be described as a receipt, not so different from the scrap of paper you receive for purchasing a cantaloupe or a package of gum from your neighborhood market.

Even I’m not old enough to have been around when this coupon book was issued in 1934. Think how many 5-cent stubs it would take to get into a movie today!

Tickets used to be uniform in size and shape: those little notched pieces of card-stock paper were a souvenir, or at least a remnant, of going to the movies. (I think of myself as a pack-rat, but I never thought of doing what a friend of mine has: he’s saved every ticket stub he’s accumulated over the years in a huge glass bowl in his living room.)

I find it grimly amusing that tickets, like projectors, reels, and strips of film with sprocket holes, remain vivid and instantly identifiable icons for graphic artists who want to indicate “movies” in visual shorthand—yet, ironically, they are no longer part of the modern movie world. It’s hard to conjure up a look for something virtual, like digital projection or a bar code.

Yes, I’m aware that I sound like an old crank lost in the mist of nostalgia, but I can’t wipe away a lifetime of moviegoing memories. I actually remember paying 25 cents for my first kiddie matinee, which soon advanced to 35 cents, and then 50 cents. (Grownups back then paid anywhere from 75 cents to $1.50, as I recall.) I don’t have any stubs from those New Jersey movie theaters, many of which are gone by now, but I cherish the experiences I had in those formative years of my life. They made me fall in love with movies. That’s why I can’t be dismissive when it comes to phasing out something tangible, like a ticket, that was so much a part of those years.

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  • Dbenson | May 3, 2012 3:35 PMReply

    Tickets, little cardboard boxes of wrapped taffy (and a prize!), souvenir programs for the blockbusters, Dell comic adaptations, curtains in front the screen that opened just as the studio logo appeared . . . and a decent cartoon!

  • April | May 1, 2012 12:41 PMReply

    It's not trivial.. Some day those tickets may be worth a lot of money if it's an important theater and it's gone.. Save it for your grandkids. Might make them rich some day!!!

  • mike schlesinger | April 30, 2012 10:20 PMReply

    This is merely another facet of the disposable society we have now become. We already have "clouds" in cyberspace where we're supposed to store things (music, movies, photos) that we used to keep as physical media, so why should we care about the ephemera that's a part of it? We've already raised two generations to whom the name Johnny Carson draws a blank stare, so why hang onto anything anymore?

    current mood: grumpy with a double shot of sarcasm

  • David Lynn | April 30, 2012 7:02 PMReply

    Pleasant memories, indeed. The tickets stubs I hold most dear are those saved from an evening with my future wife back at the neighborhood theater of my youth in Milwaukee. The neon clock still glowed faintly after all those many years, and I was no more successful at willing the hands to stop that magical evening as I was when I was as a thirteen-year-old and had to be home by nine o'clock.

  • Norm | April 30, 2012 6:30 PMReply

    Time stamp of part of your lifes experiences...The amount of info on the ticket(or what's left of it) is quite .amazing..Date, Time , Feature...even the show and the number of the theatre. Great to reference to see what day or event you viewed or who you enjoyed it with...
    To quote Hannibal Lechter, "Not anymore..."

  • Patrick Picking | April 30, 2012 5:03 PMReply

    Good article. I've saved the ticket stubs from every movie I attended since 1979 in a shoe box. I wrote the name on the back in tiny print on some of them. It's ok to collect trivial things if I'm organized, right?!

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