Picks and Pans Main: Screen

UPDATED 09/09/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/09/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

Real-life cinema subdrama: Lazy, late-summer afternoon. Nice time for a movie, say True Identity. Patron enters the Closter (N.J.) Cinema for an advertised 5:30 showing, primed to relax. But wait! There's no cashier! In fact, the cashier and the candy-counter guy are sitting on the lobby floor playing cards. Manager is nowhere to be seen. Turns out said patron is the only one who has shown up; manager refuses to show film, offers only a shrug and a grudging "Sorry."

Not all theaters require a minimum number of customers to be present before they'll show a film; spokespeople for both the Loews and Cineplex Odeon chains, for instance, say their theaters' policy is to run a movie for even one customer. But too many cavalierly break the agreement (aforementioned patron has been a victim four times in the past three years) implied by a published schedule and refuse to show a film unless four or six or however many people pay—and too bad about those customers who did show up. Consider it another blow struck on behalf of the VCR industry.

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