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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Batman marathon: eight hours, three films and several hundred calories

Sometimes your friends come to you with ideas you think are a bit crazy, but you go along them anyway.

In this case, the friend was a coworker, News-Herald Sports Editor Mark Podolski. It’s his fault that I’m sitting in a movie theater lobby using a small laptop computer at this very second.

“Podo,” as he’s known around the office is, like me, a Batman fan and passionate about the newer Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan. And, even though he and I were attending an advanced media screening of the film on Tuesday, he convinced me we should attend a marathon of all three movies – 2005’s “Batman Begins,” 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and the series finale, “The Dark Knight Rises,” premiering across the country at midnight today, Thursday, July 19.

That’s why I’m here at Atlas Cinemas’ Great Lakes 16 in Mentor.

Three movies. Roughly nine hours. Gulp.

Even for me, that’s a lot of sitting.

To help the time go more quickly – and in an attempt to call this “work” – I’ve decided to keep a running diary of the experience:

5:35 p.m.: Arrive at the theater well in advance of the 6:30 start time because I want things to go smoothly.

5:45: Podo arrives, but I leave him to a piece of breaded chicken he’s having for dinner and I go talk to the manager, Justin, to get all squared away. Justin tells me that they’ve sold about 700 tickets for “Rises,” about 100 for the marathon. The auditorium holds 250, he says.

6:00: I’ve chosen our seats – at the back of the auditorium floor in a corner, which hopefully will allow me to tweet from the auditorium on a very dimmed iPhone screen without disturbing anyone. We will be tweeting with the hashtag #BatmanMarathon.

6:05: Work time. Justin has given me access to the theater’s party room – a narrow room with decidedly kid appeal, but the connection is bad and I’ve moved the lobby. Not better, really, so I it looks like I will not be blogging throughout the night as planned but create one large entry later.

6:20: I’m heading back into the theater. My plan is to eat a small bag of apple slices I brought. After that, it while move junk food. I realize this is the best I will feel all night.

6:25: Almost time to go. The theater is maybe half-filled. Podo and I are bummed no one is in costume, but we do see some Batman T-shirts. It will have to do.

6:31: The ads that had been rolling on the screen are replaced by a trailer for the upcoming movie “Total Recall.” I decide it’s time for a concessions run.

6:37: I’ve ordered a hotdog, pretzel – with cheese – and a medium Diet Dr. Pepper. (As we all know, the diet soda cancels out everything else.)

6:49: After coming back in after the start of “Batman Begins,” I have inhaled most of the food, leaving a bit of pretzel and cheese for much later.

6:59: Not surprisingly, I’ve finished the pretzel. It is great to be watching this movie again. I own it, but I haven’t watched it in a while.

7:30: We’re an hour in. Batman still hasn’t made an appearance. The film really takes its time with the origin story.

7:38: We have a Batman sighting. “Where are you????” a spooked criminal asks. “Here!” a suddenly reappearing Caped Crusader yells.

8:13: We just witnessed the big car chase. I’d forgotten how awesome it is.

8:17: Bathroom break. I want to be in good shape for the finale.

8:47: The movie ends, to a round of applause. Almost every gets up to stretch his or her legs. We have a long way to go – but only a few minutes until the start of “The Dark Knight.”

9:04: The movie starts in six minutes. Podo has returned with an order similar to mine. He’s now out looking for people to interview on video. I, of course, am thinking about my next concessions run. I’m leaning toward popcorn now, candy later … doctor tomorrow.

9:13: After grabbing a small popcorn and a Diet Pepsi (seriously, I’m an inspiration), I come back into the auditorium. Playing on the screen is a trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises.” I played before “Batman Begins,” too. People, if there’s a group of folks you no longer need to try to see on that movie, it’s this crowd. 

9:27: The opening heist sequence is done. It always makes me think of one of my favorite movies, “Heat,” which has an even more amazing bank heist.

9:44: Was dying to stretch my legs, but I had to wait until the Joker has introduced himself to the gangsters. Fantastic.

9:57: I feel like I’m hitting my stride. Five more hours. Nooo problem. (I think this is caffeine-related delusion.

10:32: Yep, starting to yawn. It’s now been a long time sitting in a darkened room, staring at a bright screen.

10:58: One hour to go till “The Dark Knight Rises.” Podo is showing the first signs of fatigue; he has shifted noticeably in his seat.

11:24: I’m yawning a lot. It’s official.

11:40: “The Dark Knight” comes to an end. Predictably, more applause follow.

11:50: While I write, Podo has gone out to take stills and videos of fans waiting for “Rises.” He has found folks in costume and reports there are a lot of people at the theater. A man in front of me tells the person next to him that parking all around the theater, including that of some neighboring businesses, is pretty full.

11:55: Will there be a trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises” before “The Dark Knight Rises”? I’m strangely excited to find out.

12:05 a.m.: Lights dim. “Here we go!” someone yells. “Here we go!” someone else echoes. “Shhhhhssss!!” someone counters. (No trailer for the movie we’re about to see. I am momentarily sad.)

12:12: I’m regretting that in my review of the film I didn’t mention how great the opening sequence involving a plane hijacking is. Very cool.

12:15: I have acquired my final meal of the day – a box of Sno-Caps and another Diet Dr. Pepper. This should do it.

1:21: I finally had been feeling all the hours in the theater – and, at last, all the junk food – but the tremendous Act I-closing fight between Batman and Bane has re-energized me. I am fairly sure it will be a temporary high. With that over, it’s time to stretch my legs again.

1:41: OK, I’m officially sitted-out, and I’ve spent more time out of my seat than in it lately. Honestly, any thoughts that I’d like this movie more the second time are dead. Sure, I’m dreaming about my bed, but after watching the first two stellar chapters of the saga again, I’m even less impressed with the third. (Sorry, just about everyone else, but that’s how I feel.)

2:16: I’ve taken my last bathroom break – I think. I have, after all, drunk a soda or so of diet soda. The final action sequence is underway, and the curtain is about to close on “Rises” and this saga.

2:41: The final few minutes, which I like very much, have run their course. The credits begin, and the crowd again shows its approval. I’ve seen wilder movie crowds, but everyone seems happy.

Marathon survived. Somehow, I knew I could do it. However, I believe my Friday will be not the greatest of days.

Great idea, Podo. It was fun. Let’s never do it again.

UPDATE: Before calling it a night, we recorded a podcast about the experience and the movie. We give you warning that there are spoilers about halfway through the podcast.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures

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