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REELING ‘EM IN!

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by CG News Desk

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There are babies crying at the Loews 34th Street Theater, and the noise isn't coming from the Dolby Sound. Actually, it's not that bad; although the infant-like sounds you'll hear at this Loews are very real, they're also usually under control. It's part of the experience of Reel Moms. Presented by Loews and UrbanBaby.com, Reel Moms offers new mothers (with children under 12 months old) the chance to do something they seldom get to do: See a movie in a movie theater. In fact, a first run movie, with a projectionist, a screen, popcorn — all the trappings associated with public entertainment that became such distant memories once baby was born. Keep in mind, this is an adjusted movie-going experience. The films begin at 11am each Tuesday, but the doors of the Loews actually open at 10 for some pre-screening socializing. Moms — and some dads — have been pushing strollers through the 34th Street entrance and hauling them up the escalators since last November, when the program kicked off with an experimental run. Now, fully established, the Reel Moms events are drawing approximately 200 moms per screening, according to John McCauley of Loews Cineplex Entertainment. What this means is, you shouldn't be surprised, when you get to the top floor, to see babies crawling or sitting all over the lobby floor, being goo-gooed and changed and fed by their moms. And if the decibel of the adult voices is any gauge, the moms (and occasional dads) have been getting to know each other rather well. (The pre-screening period has even included live guest speakers on parenting topics and mom-and-baby oriented giveaways, such as baby food samples). Two other factors that make the Reel Moms experience different from the ordinary one are the specially selected films and their physical presentation. The films are always first run, chosen according to "whatever's being released or being talked about," says McCauley, and selected — naturally, since the program is called Reel Moms — with an eye toward their appeal to women. "We rely on our audience feedback, and it's a very responsive audience," McCauley says. "We get lots of emails, and if they say that the content of a particular film isn't right for them, we try to work with that. These are movies for adults, but on some occasions, as with Finding Nemo, we'll find out that they'll want to see something that's actually made for a younger audience. We take our cues from our audience." The experience inside the theater is different, too. The house lights are raised slightly to give moms enough light to see what they're doing, and the sound level is lowered somewhat to guard against frightening the children or keeping them awake. (Since loud action movies are generally avoided and movies focusing on character and character development are more typical of the program, the sound tracks are naturally quieter). Coming up this month, beginning on September 9, is the comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star with David Spade; Matchstick Men with Nicolas Cage on September 16; The Fighting Temptations with Cuba Gooding Jr. on September 23; and Second Hand Lions with Haley Joel Osment on September 30. Tickets (for moms; children under 12 months are admitted free) are $5.


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