You've got your ticket. You've got your popcorn. You've settled into your plushly padded and slightly sticky seat just in time for the trailers, and you're all set for a cinematic masterpiece that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster of highs, lows, laughter and tears. But first, you have to endure the biggest annoyance in cinema since Jim Carrey -- the Orange 'Gold Spot' cinema ad.
This Craver hates the Orange adverts. Many of you will no doubt disagree. Yes, sure, some of the ads have raised a smile on our faces -- the first time. After that, you only need to go to the pictures on a semi-regular basis and you face three months of the same advert getting ever more eye-meltingly tedious, before the next one raises a solitary slight smile -- and the cycle of tedium begins again.
If you haven't been to your local fleapit in the last ten years, the Orange ads appear in the coveted 'Gold Spot' -- the last minute before every film starts. In 2003, the ads introduced Mr Dresden, a rapacious yet utterly brainless fictional movie executive who sees films as an extension of advertising, bewildering a cavalcade of horrified Hollywood stars as he hijacks their projects with incongruous Orange references.
The range of guest stars ran the gamut from proper Hollywood royalty like Spike Lee, Dennis Hopper and Anjelica Huston, to puffy has-beens such as Val Kilmer, Emilio Estevez and Steven Seagal. Highlights included Dresden telling Darth Vader "Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on me", and Michael Madsen's 'Phone Box Killer' being arrested the second he switches to a cellphone, emphasising the screenwriter's problem with mobile phones -- they could make every movie five minutes long.
In April this year, Mr Dresden was dropped. This Craver was delighted -- until we saw the new adverts. The stars of The A-Team and Gulliver's Travels are seen filming clangingly crass Orange product placements for their movie, before breaking character to complain.
It's actually poisoned us against Gulliver's Travels. A wacky fantasy with Jack Black and a smorgasbord of British comic talent including The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd in a giant steampunk mecha suit? Yeah, we'll give it a whirl. But not now. Not after months of Jack Black mugging and whining before , before , before every single blinkin' trip to the pictures. Now, seeing anything connected with the film causes a Pavlovian reaction of utter hatred that can only be diverted from ending in violence by a family-size pack of Revels and a little sit-down.
We've got no problem with adverts per se. After all, advertising is how we pay our wages, and cinemas have to make money in these times of filthy piracy with ads and snacks (incidentally, the mark-up on popcorn is so big the BFI reckons it's more profitable than plutonium or heroin. Think on that next time you get your cinematic snack on).
A decent advert can look great on the big screen, especially if it's the first time you're seeing it, but half an hour of the same ads that clutter up your telly the rest of the week is a bit much. Fortunately, those ads can be avoided fairly easily -- just spend half an hour after the billed start time selecting your pick'n'mix. But the Orange advert squats malevolently right before the film starts. You can't escape it.
Don't get us wrong, we love Orange for its support of British cinema -- it invests heavily in the industry with its involvement in BAFTA and, most importantly, the wonder of the modern age that is. All laudable stuff. But great as all this is, the folks at Orange don't do cinema advertising because films give them the warm fuzzies -- they do it to sell phones. In other words, the very process the ads supposedly satirise.
Some see the adverts as subversive, but they're not, because this stuff is actually happening. Companies really are buying movies and stuffing them with . The new Gold Spot ads strip away the satirical veneer of the fictional movie executives, and show how films are actually made. Many filmmakers, like Jack Black in the current ad, may bleat about artistic integrity but are ultimately puppets. The joke isn't on Dresden and his oily pals -- it's on us. Hey schmucks, you've just forked out whatever ludicrous premium your local multiplex demands to see this film, and this is what you've paid for. Enjoy your movie, suckers.
Let us know how you feel in the comments. Are the Orange ads the highlight of every trip to the pictures, or the worst thing to happen to cinema since Shia LaBeouf? And what have you had enough of?