My local cinema was never too strict. It wasn't part of a chain, so there was a bit more freedom. It was nice, hardly any evilness. They knew there was no way they could stop people bringing their own food in, so they only enforced the "You CANNOT bring HOT food in" rule, which is a good thing. You don't want people eating Mcdonalds in the backrow, because a cinema is one of the few places in the world you can get away from Mcdonalds and Burger King, if only for a few hours.
I was watching Backdraft and looking at the flames as the plan came to me, a plan that would take up the next twenty-five years of my life. I'd always been a rule exploiter, able to find the tiniest loophooles and push limits to the limit. One day I realised that although I was only allowed to take cold food in, there was nothing to stop me cooking it once I was in there. I started small with a fondue, then worked my way up to a disposable barbeque. There was usually a lot left over, so I'd share it with my fellow filmgoers. People loved it. I'd always fancied myself as a bit of a chef, but I never dreamed of opening my own restaurant, because it's such a huge gamble. By the time you've read this sentence five restaurants have gone bankrupt. Now six.
Eventually word got out that there was a man with a portable gas stove who cooked the best steaks in town. The cinema turned a blind eye, because it was good for both of us. Box office takings were up and I was getting the praise I'd looked for my whole life. I was more or less running my own restaurant with the overheads of a lemonade stand. Nearly half the people in every screening were couples who had only come for dinner, and everyone was having a good time. It's how I imagined the 60s were, but darker and with better seats.
Sadly, a day came when I was defeated by a bastard. The chances were slim, but I'd ended up in the same screen as probably the only man in the world who didn't like the smell of bacon being fried. He complained to the manager, who had no option but to rethink the entire situation.
The year was 1997 when we put our heads together. It took just four meetings to come up with the perfect solution. Titanic had been out for just over a month and everyone had already seen it. We made the 12.45pm and 7pm showings of James Cameron's epic the official opening times of my restaurant. Everyone going into the film would know the deal, so any complaints could be dismissed like tears in the rain.
The plan was a success and I single handedly kept Titanic in the cinema for a year, breaking box office records and launching Leonardo Di Caprio into the A-List. Eventually people started getting annoyed with Titanic on in the background, so we changed it to a hot new film - Wild Wild West. It was a terrible decision and more food was thrown at the screen than the time I'd overcooked the tomatoes. We decided to simply rotate the films between Wayne's World, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, three films nobody ever tires of.
Unfortunately, it all went heartbreakingly wrong in 2017, after twenty-five years of good films and good food. The owner of the cinema, a man who had become a close friend of mine, passed away. He left his humble business to his only son, Eric, a man who had no interest in films. Eric had always wanted a big pile of money, so my restaurant was sold to Odeon without delay.
When the boys from HQ came to inspect what was going on they were horrified. Their team of accountants, hearts so black with emptiness that their mouths would suck in sunlight, burst into panic and anger when they realised that I was stopping customers from buying their popcorn and nachos of the lowest quality but highest price. They needed it fixed. They needed the rules changed to a level of strictness that only a chain could abide.
A week later, after the experts had worked their terrifying magic, my local cinema was no longer a place of joy and heartwarming goodtimes. It was a level 5 cinema prison. The strictest there is. You weren't allowed to take in any recording equipment, which is usually pretty standard, but a level 5 means that they would drug you before you went in to stop you forming any lasting memories. Odeon's managers had come to realise that memories were potentially causing piracy by allowing viewers to remake the film themselves and put it on the internet. Just after the film finished, before you'd completely forgotten everything, they gave you a piece of paper to write a number between 1 and 10. In years to come that piece of paper would be your only reminder that you'd ever seen the film and that number the only measure of whether you had enjoyed it or not.
Luckily for me I'd always been a cautious man. It was time to enact the plan I'd first thought of in that screening of Backdraft many years before. Ever since my first fondue watching The Cable Guy I had been using it as a distraction of that fact that I was slowly filling my local cinema with C4 plastic explosives. Before they got a chance to shut me down I struck without warning. Now my town has no cinema, but at least I never had to go through the indignity of being told I was out of business. I went out on my own terms, in a scene of fire and explosions fit for any hollywood movie.