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Does heartbreak feel good in a place like this?

By Izzy Stein, Staff Writer

As of Mar. 1, the beloved Nicole Kidman AMC promo ad that plays before films will be modified into a trio of 30-second ads. Although Kidman will remain as the head deity of cinema, the reworked ad has caused quite a stir online amid the decision to cut down the run time by half, culling sacred lines like “somehow heartbreak feels good in a place like this.” 

The original ad released in Sept. 2021 followed Australian icon Nicole Mary Kidman as she donned a tasteful pinstripe power suit and delivered one of the lesser-known greatest performances of her career. The ad opens with a hooded Kidman stepping through a puddle in stilettos, before entering an AMC theater. Inside, she walks endearingly through the hallways and into a theater as an ambient soundtrack compliments her every move. It is here that Kidman reminds us of the power of cinema: “that indescribable feeling we get when the lights begin to dim. And we go somewhere we’ve never been before…not just entertained but somehow reborn. Together.” 

AMC released the ad in an attempt to bring audiences back to cinemas after the isolation of COVID-19. Since then, it has developed somewhat of a cult following with moviegoers flocking to cinemas to “recite the national anthem” in solidarity with Nicole. Its meme-ification also prompted mentions on SNL, in Jimmy Kimmel’s 2023 Oscars monologue and even a pinstripe merchandise collection from AMC.

Sophomore film major Sydney Morris is a firm believer in the transcendental nature of moviegoing. For Morris, cinema isn’t a choice, it’s a lifestyle.

“Growing up in a movie-loving family, film has always been a part of my life, especially with my brother being a film major as well…I find it fascinating how people can come up with such unique ideas and turn it into something more,” they explained.

Commenting on the ad, Morris gushed about its transformative qualities.

“Before watching the ad I felt like my life was missing something…it was very dull,” they said. “Then I watched Nicole for the first time and I saw a new color in the world.”

But not everyone is rejoicing, with many skeptics pointing out the absurdity of an ad encouraging people to go to the movies when they have just paid to go to the movies.

Sophomore film major Beatriz Da Costa, a former AMC employee, is very familiar with the inner workings of the company and the recent changes to the original ad. She weighed in on the controversy.

“I think the changes to the original ad are ridiculous and I don’t know why they cut it…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…Other than that, I don’t think it’s impacted me that much, to be honest…but I did find it funny because of how dramatic it was,” Da Costa said. “Like why is she in a suit jacket to sit in an empty theater?”

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Do we need more marketing stunts like this one to bring people back to cinemas? It is no secret that the prevalence of streaming services and social media has changed the way we watch movies, but why are people so hesitant to go to the cinemas?

For Da Costa, ease of use for consumers seems to be a prime culprit.

“With so many streaming services and films at your disposal, it’s very hard to have the desire to go to watch a movie in a theater. You can’t pause, you can’t rewind…there’s no control over the viewing experience…streaming services have kind of spoiled us in that way.”

Despite these emerging new platforms, Da Costa remains hopeful that there will always be a demand for theaters.

“Streaming services are again very prevalent but people do still go to the movies because the experience is irreplicable…you cannot replicate or simulate the feeling of going to a film on opening night and hearing everyone’s reactions,” she explained. “There’s no experience that is remotely similar.”

Though we may not have all the answers, we can find insight from the source. 

In an interview with GQ, Nicole Kidman broke her silence, explaining her decision to take on the ad.

“It was just the desire to keep cinemas alive…I’ve had the best experiences in cinema,” she stated. “I’d pretend I was going to school; I’d forge a note, and I’d go and sit in a movie theater. That’s a safe haven for me, so the idea of those not existing – that’s just not a part of the equation in my lifetime.”

Although the future of Kidman’s face on AMC screens is unknown, her words still ring true. Theaters will always be a place where we can uncover new worlds, learn more about ourselves and provoke meaningful conversation with others. 

If that is still not enough, moviegoers can sleep comfortably knowing the original ad will live forever amongst the digital void of the internet.

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