6 Rules for Solo Movie-Going

I’m an only child, which means I grew up doing a lot of things by myself: dressing up my cats, rocking out to Amy Grant in my bedroom, playing The Game of Life. Though I no longer force my cat to wear the tiny clothing designed for my American Girl doll, I am still most comfortable in my own company.

In keeping with my affinity for aloneness, I happen to feel unabashedly unashamed of going to the movies alone, but I recognize that others are more self-conscious about it. Given my apparently unique level of comfort with this loner activity, I’ve put together a brief instruction guide to help ease all you would-be solo cinema-goers into a life of unaccompanied movie-watching.

  • Arrive early but not too early. Do not be late. The more inconspicuous you are, the less awkward you’ll feel. Nothing screams “HI, I’M HERE BY MYSELF!” like being the first person sitting in the theater. Similarly, shuffling past half a dozen seated, popcorn-eating folks to get to the only open seat in the theater is a surefire way to call attention to yourself (and also to annoy every single person seated in your row).
  • Keep your weird noises to yourself. I have one friend (please take a moment to consider whether I’m talking about you) who reacts to every little thing in a movie with variations on the sound “huh.” Sometimes it’s a laughing “huh!” and other times it’s a sad-sounding “huhhh.” Such constant noise-making, however inadvertent, serves as a terrible distraction to fellow movie-goers. If you cannot refrain from huh-ing/grunting/sighing/chuckling/talking, solo movie-going is not for you. In fact, no sort of movie-going is for you. Invest in Netflix and watch your movies in the comfort of your own living room, where you’re free to make whatever sounds you like without disturbing the peace.
  • Stay away from animal movies, unless they are animated. The first time I saw a movie by myself, I was a junior in college, depressed & bored. I chose an admittedly cheesy/weepy/ridiculous movie, the dog-themed drama Because of Winn-Dixie co-starring an adorable mutt and a not-great-at-acting Dave Matthews, which amused my friends to no end. More than a decade later, they still tease me about it, because there is just something terribly sad about seeing an animal movie by yourself. I do not have an explanation for this. Just trust me.
  • Pick movies with generic plots. This goes back to the animal rule: If a movie is too heavy, you will wish you had someone to break down to. If a movie is too complicated, you will wish you had someone to clarify questions with. If a movie is too freaking awesome, you will wish you had someone to high five. Therefore, I suggest relatively emotion-free films, such as superhero flicks, rom-coms, and action movies. They’re almost guaranteed not to require the input of a fellow movie-goer – or any brain cell usage whatsoever.
  • If you’re planning to show-hop, dress like a chameleon. Depending on the set-up of your local theater, it may be easy to pay for one show and slip into another afterward (even though you shouldn’t do that because it’s illegal, OK?!?!). Still, if you plan to do this, you should also plan for the worst-case scenario, which is that theater employees may recognize you. To prevent this, wear layers. This way, you’ll be wearing a totally different outfit from one show to the next. “No, no, my identical twin saw Divergent alone right before me, I swear!”
  • Above all, be confident. Remember: Seeing a movie alone in a theater is no different than watching a movie alone in your home, except that it’s against the law for you not to wear pants & it’s more likely that you’ll end up scarfing corndog nuggets & Sour Patch Kids. The truth shall set you free & encourage you to see movies alone: No one cares who you’re there with or that you’re there at all. So hold your head high as you slink into the movies unseen & unjudged. Enjoy the popcorn & lemme know how the movie is.

Featured image via Shuttershock

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1431339747 Annisa Dzawilfitri

    Hi there, thanks for the post.
    I’ve been solo–movie going for several times. I never come late and the movie I choose is always the one that I really want to see (either the story or the stars).
    Once I was watching Hunger Games (for the third times) and the girl beside me told her boyfriend “someone who comes alone to the movie all alone is such a freak”, I looked at her but I didn’t say anything. I just felt sorry for her. Solo-movie going is fun to do. Well, there is no one to talk about the movie after it’s over (as you say) but it is really interesting, you have your own time with the big screen and great sounds. And you can more focus with the story or the stars (just to stare at them) without someone bothering you to ask about the story.
    Anyway, I always like the movie I watch. And I’m about to do it again once The Grand Budapest Hotel come to town.
    Cheers. xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1022663051 Lisa Frymark

    I’m an only child, too, but for some reason have never been comfortable with going to the movies by myself. This post makes me want to try it more often, though.

    I identify with your second point. I have a friend who makes inappropriate noises during movies. She does this annoying “sigh” that makes me nuts. Thankfully we’re not in the same state anymore so I don’t have to deal with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=16921591 Molly Ann Magestro

    I go to the movies alone just about every week. It’s awesome because I never have to justify my choice (even when I want to see something TERRIBLE) and I don’t have to worry about someone who isn’t used to my movie-going idiosyncrasies ruining my experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9333259 A.J. Santini

    I just saw The Grand Budapest Hotel by myself yesterday afternoon at 4 PM. I like to go at off hours so a) there isn’t a chance more annoying people will talk, text or inadvertently ruin my movie-going experience and b) I am a DJ. I work weird hours. Most people choose to go see a movie when I’m working. Also, being an only child, I’m totally fine with doing almost everything alone. I enjoy the art of cinema. I’m not going to talk to the person during the film. I may nudge them, or make a face, or hold their hand, or steal some popcorn, but overall, you don’t need another person at the theater.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767919825 Amy Rickles

    The treat I give myself almost every year for my birthday is that I take the day off work and take myself to see a movie. I really only have one rule for solo movie going that is different from going to a movie with other people. I’m single, and while that doesn’t bother me in the least, it still isn’t all that fun to go solo to a movie on a Friday or Saturday night, especially if it is a moive that will probably attact a lot of couples or people on dates. So my only rule is that I don’t go to those kinds of movies at those times.

    My birthday is actually tomorrow, and I’m planning to take myself to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m very excited!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=285902173 Cartiere John

    I love solo movie going I always get there early and quite like an emotional film think bothers other people more than it does me.
    I do have a problem when need the loo you have to take everything with you oh and carrying popcorn and massive drinks cinemas do

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=542800296 Jordan Hill

    I’ve been solo movie going for a while, I call it my “me date night”. If it’s something I want to see and no one else does, I simply go. I always treat myself to a popcorn and drink. I even met a lady one time who was by herself and she sat with me. I go to any type of movie, if it’s something that interests me then I will see it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=652721386 Lynnetta Miller

    Bring a book. You’ll look cooler sitting alone waiting for the movie to start while reading a book than you would playing on a phone. The phone makes it look like you are desperately waiting for someone while a book says, yes, I’m here alone and I want to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507773962 Michelle Grove Shaffer

    Back in my singles days when I had just moved to my (at the time) new city, I went to movies by myself all the time and had no shame. Was I supposed to stay home and not see awesome new movies simply because I didn’t have a partner? Hell no.
    All good tips, thought I never did have the nerve to try the slow hop! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208847996 Danielle Kinnaird

    I’m a big solo movie goer but mostly due to the opposite of point 4. . I’m really not into most generic blockbuster style movies. I’d rather watch a quirky indie flick any day. None of my friends want to see these kinda films which means if I want to see it on the big screen it means seeing it alone. Which I’m totally fine about. I tend to go during the day when it’s quiet and what I find is most of these arty, thought provoking films are usually patronisised by a lot of solo movie goers. I went to see TransAmerica years ago and the was 6 of is at the showing. All of us where alone.
    I think this kinda movie appeals to the solo movie goer whilst genetic Hollywood movies feel like they’re more of a social outing for groups, family’s and couples .

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000315960370 Nikki Java Di

      I totally agree with you. I love being able to see a deep, artsy movie by myself. Most of my friends don’t appreciate certain films the way I do and it’s a nice personal experience to me. Whereas blockbusters or rom coms are fun to joke about with and enjoy with friends/family. (Especially because generic plots are easy on big groups to cater to everyone)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688655664 Jamie Aitchison

    I’m also an only child who appreciated a self-date. But I think your first and last tips are contradictory. “So hold your head high as you slink into the movies unseen…..” Which one is it? I saw “Her” by myself this past Saturday at 7:25pm. I got there five minutes late and had to shuffle past… another solo movie goer. We had the whole row to our self(s). And I laughed – OUT LOUD! *gasp!*

    • Kate Bigam

      Hi, Jamie!. My last point, the one about confidence, was just that no one *actually cares* if you’re at the movies by yourself, so all the other “rules” technically don’t even matter. But because so many people find solo movie-going awkwardness-inducing, I wanted to share these tips for feeling inconspicuous, which I think helps people feel less awkward. “Hold your head high as you slink into the movies unseen” was indeed meant to be a contradictory line to help people realize that no one is actually paying attention to them – so they shouldn’t feel awkward about it at all! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=582482182 Melissa Dean

    I am going to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, solo, tomorrow after work. I don’t go solo all the time, but every once in a while I want to see a movie and don’t want to have to wait for friends’ schedules to open up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=746565433 Hannah May

    I often go to the movies alone. i love it! my friends think i’m weird and some of them say they could never go to the movies alone, but it’s one of my favourite things to do. if it wasn’t so expensive i’d do it more often; this student can’t afford it every week.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=585978310 Jowana Bueser

    I always go to the movies alone because I’m an only child and also, I prefer it that way. Not sure though about staying away from certain movie genres because I watch everything alone. (I have a blog where I write short film reviews so I usually watch a lot of movies.) Going to the movies solo prevents complaints from friends about how boring or how confusing a so-and-so film. Plus, it also excludes you from the dreaded questions, “What do we watch?”, “Where do we sit?” and “Butter or plain popcorn?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=519048187 Meredith Noel Hammond

    Yeah! I’m totally an unashamed movie-goer! A lot of my friends think it’s sad, but I love movies and a lot of times my friends are too busy to see a movie or I just want to spend a little time by myself. I always grab myself some popcorn and a drink and choose one of those seats against the wall or in a corner away from everyone. I honestly never understood why my friends thought it was sad that I saw movies by myself. But I’m also an introverted person so I don’t mind being by myself in general. I think if it was a midnight showing or something like that then I would like a friend with me, but if it’s in the middle of a weekday I have off from work, I don’t see the harm in it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1192878897 Jenelle Therrien

    I’m a movie addict, and love going to shows by myself (I have the opposite issue: grew up with many siblings and never got to be alone!). The two rules I stick to are simple: weekday afternoon movies are the best, sometimes a lot of people are there alone and it’s not unusual, and avoid sad movies if at all possible… I recall feeling duped during Will Smith’s dog scene in “I Am Legend” — I cried like a baby and had to stifle it with buttery popcorn napkins. Might have been a little less awkward if there had been a friend there at least to make fun of me. :-)

  • Rhiannon Grainger

    Going to the cinema alone is the rule rather than the exception for me. I’m a chronic worrier, so going alone is the usually the only way I can enjoy myself without worrying over whether the other person is having a good time! I have to admit, there’s one thing I’d change about this list: see what you want to see. If you’re going to the cinema alone, it means you have a chance to spoil yourself without compromise, so why waste it? It shouldn’t matter if you’re seeing that new mindless rom-com or a high-brow existential art house film; if want to see it, go for it. It’s just a film, and you don’t need anyone to hold your hand for it. And if you didn’t understand the film, there’s always Google when you get home! 😛

  • Will

    i’m going to be on the outside and say i go alone because i have no one to go with. is it fun? no. i’d love to have a friend with me, but i won’t die over it. it’s just some people can’t make friends as easily as others, hence doing things in public alone. don’t assume someone goes alone because they like to always.

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