What Was the First Movie You Saw in the Theater?

I’m 98% sure that the first movie I saw in a theater was The Jungle Book. I have a vague recollection of going to a second-run theater with my mom and sister. I’m sure I had no idea at the time that I would grow up to love movies as much as I do.

In December I was pondering what to get my niece for Christmas. She has plenty of stuff, so I thought about giving her an experience. That’s when the movie idea came to mind: Why not share my love of film with Anna and take her to her first movie in a theater?

I mentioned the idea to Anna a few days before Christmas by showing her the trailer for Moana on my phone. After it ended, her eyes didn’t move from the screen. “Again,” she said.

When the big day came, we were joined by her mom and dad. Anna was in awe of how big the screen was. I had warned her about this, but it’s tough to describe the world’s biggest television without seeing it in person.

For the first 45 minutes we were there, Anna kept asking, “Is this the movie?” It’s a reasonable question, as there were commercials, an advertisement for the theater, movie trailers, and a short film. Anna had no frame of reference, so to her, any of those could have been the movie.

She got really quiet when Moana took the screen. For a 3-year-old, she was very focused for the entire film–she divided her attention between the movie and her popcorn. At one point she wanted to sit on my lap for a while, and then she switched over to her mom’s lap. She ended the movie in her seat.

I was curious to see how she’d respond to the scarier parts of the movie, but she was unperturbed. When the movie ended, I asked her what it was about, and she had a hard time answering. It’s a lot to process. But she seemed to like it. Moana is a great movie with a fantastic lead character.

My hope is that she remembers the experience. My plan is to ask her every week when we Facetime for the next 10 years so she won’t forget Uncle Jamey took her to see her first movie in a theater, Moana.

Do you remember your first movie in a theater? If you have kids, what’s the first movie you took them to see?

12 thoughts on “What Was the First Movie You Saw in the Theater?”

  1. Spirited Away at a few weeks. Our local cinema had a ‘Big Scream’ morning showing where new mums could go to grown up movies with their wiggling screaming, sometimes smelly, babies, and noone would mind a bit. Interestingly, it’s still my daughters favourite movie.

  2. The Dark Krystal. Not sure what age I was but I remember being terrified at a scary surprise in the film. Also remember loving these characters that made a ‘m-hmmmm noise but can remember very few details than those. I’ve not seen it since but really should. I wonder what ie stacks now compared to modern films.

  3. I distinctly remember seeing All Dogs Go to Heaven in theaters, when I would have been about 5 years old. The only reason I remember going at all is because a lady came up to my mom and me afterwards and told us that I had the best laugh she’d heard. And to be honest, now that I’m an adult with two loyal pooches, I can’t bring myself to watch it again to find out what I thought was so funny. 🙂

    • I’m fascinated by memory, so it’s really interesting that it was the interaction with the lady (and her compliment) that stuck with you.

      I have a vague recollection of going to the theater with a few of my friends and my sister and her friends. The girls went to All Dogs Go to Heaven (and came out crying), but I can’t remember what we saw.

  4. I don’t remember what my own first film was, but we took Charlotte to see “Up” as her first movie in the second-run theater when she was about 2. There was a lot of lap sitting involved (and it remained that way for many years!), but she did great and sat through the whole thing. By contrast, my nephews are 9 and 7 and I found out over the holidays that they’ve never been to the movie theater! They are…slightly rambunctious for lack of a better word, and I think my brother fears that even second-run theater tickets would be a waste of money.

    Charlotte and I LOVED Moana, by the way. We were both completely engrossed it in, and we have listened to many of the songs over and over since we saw it opening weekend. I don’t think we’ve done that with a film since Tangled. I kind of want to go back and see it again, but I’ll probably wait until it’s out for rental. The part with the crab and the song “Shiny” seemed a little out of place to me, but overall it was excellent.

    • I’m so glad you two loved Moana! My brother and his fiance liked the Shiny scene the best. I thought that song was catchy, though it did seem a little out of place.

  5. Empire Strikes Back was my first movie. Darth Vader was my first villain. I could only go downhill from there.
    I took my toddler son to see Independence Day. He was a baby at the time but was riveted throughout the whole thing.


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