This week was memorial weekend here in the USA and with it came the release of several really great films…well maybe great films. Last count there was 3 that I wanted to see (4 if you count the new Avengers movie) and the way life is going (very busy and things are tight) I will be lucky to see just one of them in the theater. For memorial weekend though, Tomorrowland looks like the best of the bunch and since I am nut for Walt Disney World I am anxious to see the theme park inspired move with my favorite male actor. I am personally waiting for Jurassic World to come out.
The first Jurassic Park film came out in June of 1993. I was on summer break from junior high in between 7th and 8th grade. Before 7th grade was even over the buzz was building about the movie. My nerdier friends and I sat together and just gushed ass about this movie, the science, the special effects and the newness of the CGI and the animatronics. Yes, compared to what we have now it kind of looks ridiculous to some but in a way it’s not. But for a 14 year old who grew up on Star Wars and let’s face it some really shitty movies, Jurassic Park was….IT. The only thing that came close was Terminator 2 which came out when I was 6th grade.
(Yes, while I’m writing this I’m making myself feel tremendously old since I just realized my fiancé was 4 when Jurassic Park came out)
Jurassic Park was a big deal for me. It was the first movie I went and saw alone among other things. It was being shown at Studio 28 which closed a few years back. This theater at one point had the most screens of any theater in the world and was at one time also the biggest. It was where I saw Return of the Jedi, Flight of the Navigator, all the Indiana Jones movies and ET among others. It was where I had first dates, first make outs and spent a ridiculous amount of time and money with my cousins and friends. It was the center of my young movie viewing life. One day I was seeing a movie with someone (who exactly I can’t remember) and saw they were going to do pre-orders for the very FIRST showing of Jurassic Park in Grand Rapids in theater #2 (at the time was the 1st or 2nd biggest indoor theater in the world).
The weeks went by and the day came where I could pre-order my tickets. If I remember right they did a special drawing or something just to be able to pre-order tickets for the 1st showing. I was one of the lucky ones who got picked and none of my friends either signed up or were allowed to. I remember my mom drove me to the theater. I walked inside and up to the counter all alone. It was weird. I remember feeling like I was really….doing something.
This was the first movie that Studio 28 ever did a pre-order for; there was no Fanango back then. I went up told the girl at the counter what I wanted and gave her my name. She then showed me a seating chart of theater #2 and told me to pick a seat that didn’t have a blue X over it. I’d been in the theater dozens of time and was trying to visualize where I wanted to sit. I was a big kid and liked leg room and didn’t much care for sitting next to strangers so I ended up picking seat 19 (my sisters birthday). Seat 19 sat on the end of an isle in a separate section of seats on the right side of the theater. I paid, she printed my ticket and I was off. I had something few people in Grand Rapids had. I had my GOLDEN TICKET! I was going to be one of the first to see this epic film. It was the biggest thing to ever happen to me up to that point in my life short of my cousin (name omitted) showing me his dads Playboys.
The release of the next movie in the Jurassic Park film series, Jurassic World got me thinking about this particular life event. It got me thinking about some firsts, the old days before on-demand and Amazon Prime. It got me thinking about when you could still go see a movie for less than 5 dollars. I wish Jax was old enough to see Jurassic World (which if I do go see I will undoubtedly go alone) but he’s only 9 months old so he can’t. I still think Jurassic Park is just as good now as it was then….even with those horrible kids that were in it. The theme song still makes me feel like a kid again.
Studio 28 is long gone now, an empty lot in a dying part of town. But at one point in time it was the center of the movie universe in West Michigan.