With multiple screens, more theatres, and matinees daily, are the days of standing in line for a summer blockbuster movie in Yakima a thing of the past?


Yakima Theatres, also known as Mercy Theatres now has three multiplex theatres in town. They also show matinees every day, as opposed to just weekends, so people have many more opportunities to see the big movies that come out in the summer and during the Christmas holiday season. They can even show these blockbusters on multiple screens at the same time. You can also buy advance tickets at the theatre or online, so when it comes to being the first in line for a huge film, the rules have changed.

My recollection of the summer blockbuster movie experience in Yakima goes back to the summer of 1975, when the movie that became the definition of the summer blockbuster was released, "Jaws".

My friends and I had heard the word of mouth on the film and were determined to see it. We got together on a late Sunday afternoon, made the drive from the lower valley and got to the theatre a half hour ahead of the time for the last matinee. Remember, at that time the only information you could find on local movie times was the schedule that was in the newspaper. We got to the only multiplex theatre Yakima had at that time, the Mercy Twin in Union Gap, in what we thought was plenty of time. The sight we were greeted with made us panic a little.

The line for "Jaws" stretched out of the lobby and completely around the building. We got into line, hoping for the best. We chatted up some of the people in line with us, and as we shuffled forward, anxiety started to set in. Would we make it in, or would we be greeted with the "sold out" sign when we got to the box office?

We entered the lobby, and were able to buy four tickets. We made it! We found four seats together in the second row and settled in. The house lights dimmed, the trailers played, and it wasn't long before we heard the movie's iconic theme music.

Somehow, it wasn't just the flick that entertained us. It was the waiting in anticipation, the anxiety that we might not get in, and the interaction with other movie goers that made it a memorable experience.

It's probably something that doesn't happen often for movie audience today.