You may not know this, but movies run in theaters even if there is not audience. There’s a reason for this, of course. Most movie theaters no longer change reels. All the reels are spliced together and put on a large platter. So once you start a film, it has to run all the way through.
Now, let’s say the show time is 1 PM and no one shows. So you said, “Let’s not bother to show the movie.” And then ten teen thugs show up to watch the movie at 1:10, hoping they had missing the PSAs, trailers and credits and were ready to be cinematically entertained. So you start the show twenty minutes late. Which would make the 3 PM show late, and the 5 PM show and the 7 and the 9. So you have to start the movie every time, even the last show, just for the off chance someone shows.
I remember 1988’s “Jack’s Back” with James Spader running many times on its first and final weekend with no one attending at the UA5.
I love it when I’m the only one watching a movie. If I feel like it, I can stretch out in the center aisle, scratch, belch and make MST3000 remarks loudly to the screen. It’s nice, of course, as well, when it is a film with only my family. Off hand, I can only think of one time that happened. An that wasn't the only cool thing about this particular sceening.
When I still lived in Felton, CA, my wife Mindy and our kids (Bret, Paige and Jill) were visiting Santa Rosa. And visiting the UA5, my old theater workplace. Mary Ann was still managing the theater, as she did when I working there. And she gave the kids a tour of the upstairs, to see the movie projectors running. Even more cool, she gave each of the kids their own preview of coming attractions trailer (“Titan A-E” for Bret, “Rocky and Bullwinkle” for Paige [poor Paige] and “X-Men” for Jill.)
Then we watched (free of charge), “Godzilla 2000”. Now, this is not the best of the Big G films. Not nearly as good as the original, but so much better than the American CGI abomination. Because it had men in suits, the way Japanese sci-fi with bad dubbing was meant to be.
In case you want to know the plot, “Godzilla saves Tokyo from a flying saucer that transforms into the beast Orga.” I didn’t remember that. I copied it from IMDB. I remember Toho Studios and United Artists spending millions of dollars for the entertainment of my family alone on a wonderful weekday afternoon. It was not only the first time my kids had seen the real Godzilla on a big screen, it was the first time for me. I had watched him on Creature Features and the kids saw him on video, but never on the big screen. And we got to play Mike, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. Nothing better. (Although since this is #7, there must be at least six things better.)