What are your memories of going to the movies?

Focus Cinema in 1980.
Focus Cinema in 1980.

This old photo of the Focus Cinema, in South Shields, came to hand just days after I made a trip to the pictures to see the last of the Planet of the Apes trilogy, War Of The Planet Of The Apes.

The film, which I can thoroughly recommend, put me in mind of the original Apes movie, and got me wondering just how long ago it was released.

Well, believe it or not, the film, starring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, among others, was actually first screened in 1968.

Perhaps it’s because the film was so well made, but it doesn’t seem to be that old.

The new film, of course, is much slicker in terms of special effects, but the story-lines in both movies are equally entertaining and thought-provoking.

What has changed, most markedly, is the surroundings in which the films were screened.

Back then, cinemas were generally big old buildings, with, for the most part, a single screen, not like the plush, multi-screen entertainment centres that they are today.

Before the “revolution” that heralded this “new dawn” in cinema-going, customers in some picture houses not only had to suffer the cold in winter (and sometimes in summer) but also the most uncomfortable of seats.

Blimey, some people even left with a rat bite or two.

Talking of seats, on my visit to see the Apes blockbuster, I was offered, what was to me, a new cinema-going experience – the moving seat.

I wasn’t sure what the expect, and when the film started, and the seat started to “move”, I was a bit unsure. For it reminded me of the times you get a child sitting behind you, and he or she spends most of the movie, kicking your chair.

But, it has to be said, that once I got used to being bumped about a bit (every time a horse was ridden or a bullet was fired or, most dramatically, when a bomb exploded), I found the whole experience quite exciting.

And I’m sure it would have been even more realistic if I’d been watching the film in 3-D.

For those of you have been lucky enough to go to one of the Disney resorts, and seen one of the interactive shows, you’ll know something of the sensation. If you haven’t, well, why not give it a go, only hang on to your popcorn!

I for one certainly don’t miss those big old cinemas, what about you?