I was sitting in seat E5 during yesterday afternoon’s Avatar 2 screening. The “show” started at 2:15 pm, but as we all know that meant the film itself wouldn’t start until at least 20 minutes of trailers had unspooled. As it happened the film didn’t begin until 2:40 pm. During the 25 minutes of trailers two seats to my left were empty, but I figured the purchasers would show up at the last minute. They didn’t, and after a while I started to say to myself “hey, this is pretty good…maybe I can move over and stretch my legs.”

At 3:07 pm the seat purchasers finally showed up. 27 minutes after the film had begun. The fact that both were overweight had nothing to do with anything, of course. Avatar 2 seats are expensive, and they had to have reserved them a good 10 days in advance. How undisciplined and chaotic does your life have to be to cause this much delay? This wasn’t just another movie –it was an opening-day showing of one of the biggest films of the year. Did they forget? One of them couldn’t get out of the bathroom? I gradually pushed these thoughts out of my head, but it took a while.

Avatar 2 runs 192 minutes — add on 25 minutes of trailer promos and you’re talking 217 minutes. That’s obviously part of the exhaustion factor — it’s grueling to be bombarded with loud, floor-vibrating, super-sized images for three hours and 37 minutes. Lawrence of Arabia runs ten minutes longer (227 minutes) but that film doesn’t rough you up like Avatar 2 — it’s visually vast and eye-filling, but huge portions are dialogue-driven.