Leaving a Movie Early – Is It Worth it?

It’s something I’ve seen plenty of times but only done once: a group of people leaving a film well before the credits begin to roll. 

In fact, it was only during the recent La La Land that a few of the friends I’d travelled to the cinema with got up midway through the highly praised musical and quietly informed us they were heading off. On meeting them afterwards, it turns out that they simply weren’t enjoying the movie, and fatigue contributed towards their early departure.

La La Land
Source: South China Morning Post

“I’d never get up and leave a film early,” I proclaimed, a few of my other friends agreeing. “It just seems like a waste of time to not see the end of something.” Well, it turns out that I’m a giant hypocrite, because yesterday I left a screening of the god-awful Rings well over an hour before the actual ending.

It’s probably important to note that my group of cinema going friends all have a membership to our local movie theatre; a flat, monthly fee which guarantees that you can go to as many movies as you like and pay nothing extra. Naturally, this takes away a portion of the financial investment into a film most audiences have. Theoretically, I could book a showing of every movie for a single day but turn up to none, and still not be charged any extra money than my monthly fee. Still, I’d never understood the mentality of leaving early…until Rings.

It was about fifty minutes into the movie that I started considering walking out, and it was a few factors that contributed towards this kind of thinking. First of all, it’s just a terrible movie; one which lacks even the humour of an awful script. From the opening few scenes, it’s very easy to work out where things are headed – and this is coming from somebody who’s never seen the previous entries into this particular horror franchise.

Taxi Driver
Source: Cinema Jam

In addition to it being awful, I was just exhausted. This has nothing to do with the film in particular, but it’s hard to be invested in what is already an atrocious product when you’re battling the urge to sleep. But I’d paid, so surely I should see it through to the end? Well, I’d previously argue something similar, but it just didn’t seem worth it. Why waste my time hating something when I can just leave and forget about it? When it’s put like that, I’d say it seems like a fairly obvious decision.

Of course, I’m not contractually obliged to watch movies or anything like that. I’ve done my fair share of movie reviewing, but it’s not something which I unequivocally have to do. If this is the case for you, then I’m sure you’ll begrudgingly sit through an awful movie so that you can produce a piece on it.

I’ll also fully acknowledge that leaving the theatre doesn’t seem like it would affect the production companies at all, and is more of a personal protest against terrible content. Also, it seems unlikely that you’d be given a refund for leaving early – even though there have been several instances of people trying exactly that. It’s all a matter of how much value you place on your time, though, and whether it could be spent elsewhere.

Take my experience of Rings, for example: I left early so that I could come home and sleep. It sounds ridiculous – I get that – but I valued my own well-being over sitting through a dreadful film. Ultimately, this is an entirely subjective issue, but it’s one which I hadn’t properly considered until I found myself in the position of the leaver. Will I make a habit of it? Probably not, but only time will tell.


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