Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

No kids allowed: Don't let them ruin movies here

These cinemas are decked out with bean bags, plastic ball-pits and a big slide that runs the length of the cinema. Photo / Supplied
These cinemas are decked out with bean bags, plastic ball-pits and a big slide that runs the length of the cinema. Photo / Supplied

Earlier this week I was supposed to go and see Kong, the brand new King Kong reboot. I was excited to see it - giant apes fighting giant dinosaurs in iMax 3D?

You bet I wanted me some of that action.

Which of these fearsome brutes would win? Who would come out on top? Probably Kong... seeing as it's his movie and all. But I wouldn't know for sure - for sure - unless I witnessed this epic battle for myself.

As it turns out there's one thing that can defeat both angry apes and furious dinosaurs. And that's a babysitter cancelling at the last minute.

So rather than going to the cinema to watch a giant gorilla duke it out with a vicious tyrannosaur I instead trundled home and watched my toddler run around the lounge like an over caffeinated rabbit.

It was fun playing with her. The sight of her little face grinning and the sound of her joyous laughter filled me with fatherly joy etc etc.

But the thing was, I really wanted to see Kong...

Upset as I was at missing a big budget spectacle of ape rampage I never once thought, 'If only there was some way we could combine her playing with my movie'.

The reason I didn't think that is a simple one. It's a monstrously stupid idea.

Still, that hasn't stopped a movie chain in the States from following through on this madness by building children's playgrounds inside their movie theatres.

The Mexican owned cinema chain Cinepolis, "the world's fourth-largest cinema operator", will this week open theatres that house 16m long and 7m high playgrounds in Southern California. They're calling them "Cinepolis Junior", although "Hell" feels far more accurate.

These cinemas are decked out with bean bags, plastic ball-pits and a big slide that runs the length of the cinema. This ensures that no matter where you sit the aggravating noise of children having a good time is guaranteed to ruin your movie.

There's even a special kids menu and, I'm told, they even have a movie screen...

Tom Hiddleston stars in Kong: Skull Island. Photo / Supplied by Warner Brothers
Tom Hiddleston stars in Kong: Skull Island. Photo / Supplied by Warner Brothers

Cinepolis rolled the concept out in Mexico two years ago and they've proven to be popular enough for them to ship the concept across the border into the US.

In Mexico they have the lights on before the movie and again at intermission, but in the States they're considering leaving the lights on for the entire film.

And it's at this point I have to question the whole concept.

Before ranting further I do need to clarify that even if these kid-friendly atrocities existed here I still would have ended up missing Kong. Cinepolis Junior only screens kid appropriate fare, like Disney's upcoming Beauty and the Beast remake or whatever animated feature is currently screening.

But that's still a problem. If your kid can't sit still for 90 minutes then maybe, just maybe, they're not ready to experience the magic of the movies.

If they associate going to the cinema with running wild then they're gonna grow up to be the kind of jerks that think nothing of texting, snapchatting or - gawd help us - talking during a movie.

And that's just not on.

I saw so many great films at the cinema when I was a kid and have so many happy memories of doing so. Even now, for me anyways, going to a film retains an aura of occasion.

And it's that feeling that I want to pass on to my kid. Not the notion that you go to the movies to make an almighty ruckus.

We already have places where kids can run free and go nuts. They're called playgrounds. You can find them everywhere. The majority of them are free. A playground is where kids should be taken to play and shout and carry on. Not a cinema.

I thought about calling our own Event cinema chain about this. Just to ensure they weren't hatching any harebrained schemes to follow suit.

But in the end I decided against it. I didn't want to give them any ideas...

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

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