MacGuffins Bars at AMC Theaters

If you’ve been to any AMC theater lately, you’ve probably noticed they serve booze now. The little bar areas near the entrance  come with the inside-joke name of MacGuffins (A MacGuffin is any plot device that motivates the characters and advances the story, be it a Ring of Power or a mysterious glowing suitcase). MacGuffins sounds like an Irish pub, but it’s really a clever movie pun.

These mini-bars serve not  just beer and wine, but full cocktails, some of which are created specifically for the movie franchise in question. [pullquote]AMC had the “Twig and Berries” drink for Deadpool 2 (and yes, it’s intended to recall exactly what dirty thoughts you’re thinking)[/pullquote]; two drink options when The Last Jedi came out — a blue Jedi drink vs a red Sith drink, each with tiny glowing lightsabers; a dino-themed bevvie when Jurassic World 2 was showing; a creepy cool Venom drink most recently; plus a ton of other interesting creations that I’m personally too broke to order.  🙂

None of the beverages are what you’d call a great deal. The draft beers offer the most bang for your $7-$9 bucks with full pours, and there seem to be about five taps, with one rotating seasonal option, and usually an Angry Orchard Cider to boot. The wines are kind of expensive for what you get, hovering between $7 to $14, depending on whether you get a half glass or a full. The specialty cocktails generally run around $13 and up. The prices do fluctuate in different cities. On an recent trip to Florida, I found I could get a super large brew for around $10, making it a better deal than two $7 beverages.

So, they’re not so cheap, and there’s no happy hour, but it’s nice during a long movie to be able to sip on something more grown-up than a soda. I’ve noticed that a typical-sized beer can be nursed through a three hour movie. Usually I’m too caught up in the film to remember there’s a drink handy. But I like having the option. [pullquote position=”right”]It still feels like a novelty. Remember the line in Pulp Fiction that you could get a real beer at the movies in Europe? Well, we have them now too.[/pullquote]

One nice thing about MacGuffins is they usually have a couple of stools at the bar, and often some bistro tables to sit at with friends. This is really nice if you’re early for a movie and waiting for it to start, or if you’re seeing more than one film and want a convivial place to hang. An extra plus: there’s usually no line to order, unlike the overcrowded, chaotic popcorn/hot dog/soda concession stands. It’s a much more peaceful affair.

I’ve been to an Edwards Theater recently, and there was no bar. [pullquote]I’m so used to those being around now that it seems weird to not have a MacGuffins at hand. When you think about it, it’s a little crazy for the other movie chains to miss out on that extra income.[/pullquote] I assume Regal, Harkins, and Edwards will probably follow suit from AMC’s example at some point. They’re just throwing easy money away if they don’t.

Anyway, of course, having beverages of ANY sort turns into a trial of holding your full bladder, to the point where you kind of want the characters to die and get over it — just so you can run to the bathroom and relax again. Seriously.

However, since there’s the faithful RunPee app, this is no longer a problem. Yeah, I’m going to plug RunPee here.

RunPee exists to service your bladder. The app (on both iPhone and Android phones) discretely vibrates when its to time go to the bathroom during all the wide release movies, every week and every year, and for the last ten years.

There’s usually between 2 to 4 “Peetimes” — depending on movie length — and the app provides a synopsis of what you’ve missed during the 3 to 5 minutes it takes to run out, do your business, and get back. There are Recommended Peetimes, Emergency Peetimes, and even Alert Peetimes (which warn you if there’s a unpleasant sort of scene coming up, like something featuring torture). The “Extra Scene” feature is very popular, telling you if you need to wait during the end credits or not.

In any case, [pullquote position=”right”]RunPee goes together very well with MacGuffin’s beers, wines, and cocktails. You can’t pause a movie, but now you don’t have to worry about when to go, or if you should just sit there in agony. [/pullquote] 🙂

I think a good idea for AMC’s next iteration would be an upscale barista counter. It would be nice to get a latte during an evening show.

Have you seen the MacGuffins bars? Do you think this is a good idea for movie theaters, and have you ever ordered anything?

[Photos owned by RunPee.com]

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Best Movie MacGuffins Explained

Best Movie MacGuffins Explained

Star Wars is loaded with MacGuffins. Can you name them all?

A MacGuffin is any object that drives the plot and motivates the characters in a movie. You might have seen the name “MacGuffins” over bar bistros in the lobbies of many AMC theaters. That’s an industry in-joke.[pullquote] It sounds like the name of an Irish pub, but it’s really a nod to a long standing film tradition, coined by Alfred Hitchcock himself, for an object that’s an excuse to make characters do things, have a quest for, and usually fight over.[/pullquote]

MacGuffins can be almost anything, but the point is, it is a “thing.” Sometimes a MacGuffin can be a person-as-thing, but that’s a bit more rare. Another crucial point about MacGuffins — they’re usually quite fungible. [pullquote position=”right”]It really doesn’t matter what the thing is, so long as the characters spend their narrative trying to get it (or, in some cases, lose it). [/pullquote]

Here are some well-known movie MacGuffins that you probably never thought about: 

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark — this whole flick is about finding the Ark, protecting the Ark, using the Ark, and finding a safe place to store it. I’m not sure an FBI warehouse is the safest place, but it’s probably as good as keeping it under the sands of Tanis. Note that for all Indy’s efforts,  nothing he does actually helps the cause in the end. He’s just lucky he knew enough not to die from it. And as we saw in the subsequent Indiana Jones films, there’s always some kind of MacGuffin driving the plot, including the Holy Grail. This is a case-book example of MacGuffins in action. (And yes, the holy grail in Monty Python’s Holy Grail counts too.)
  • Titanic – The Heart of the Ocean. Awwww.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl – the last coin of the cursed gold qualifies, and so does Will Turner himself. I think each film in this increasingly bizarre series centers in a MacGuffin of some sort.
  • Most of the Mission Impossible series has a MacGuffin driving the plot, which really is just an excuse to see Tom Cruise pulling off his own wild stunts.
  • The Necronomicon in Army of Darkness qualifies in a super fun way. Have you seen this movie? (Go find it. Bruce Campbell is the best B actor in the business.)
  • A Fish Called Wanda has the bag of money, and a whole lot of tomfoolery involved in getting it, including an actual fish named Wanda. (Haven’t seen this? It’s one of the world’s funniest movies and stands up to the test of time.)
  • The Project Genesis in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. But you knew this, right? Even the whales in The Voyage Home count.
  • Unobtainium is kind of a jokey name, but certainly qualifies as a MacGuffin in Avatar. The natives of Pandora need it to survive, and the invading humans want it. They also kind of get it. Bummer.  It all works out in the end, mostly.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe is all about MacGuffins. You could make a case for each of the current 20 films having some kind of MacGuffin. Most of them have to do with Infinity Stones, and who has them, and who tries to protect them from Thanos (or Ronan, or Loki, or the bad guy in Dr. Strange, or that dark Elf in Thor 2). Remember the stones go by all kinds of names, like the Orb, the Aether, the Tesseract, and so on. But it’s not always about the stones: Vulture just wanted alien technology. The Iron Man trilogy was about arc reactor tech. Killmonger wanted the power of Vibranium. Thor sought a replacement for his hammer, so Stormbreaker was the latest MacGuffin. Ant Man is about Quantum Tech and Pym Particles. Name me one MCU movie NOT about a MacGuffin, and you’ll win ten points to your Hogwarts House.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, I don’t think a single entry in the 8 movie pantheon is MacGuffin-free. Look at the Sorcerer/Philosopher’s stone, the Tri-Wizard cup, the orb of prophecy, the Horcrux search, the quest for the Sword of Gryffindor, and the Deathly Hallows. Since Harry turned out to be a horcrux himself, he qualifies as a personified MacGuffin.
  • Like with the Sword of Gryffindor, swords are common themes to base a quest around. Look at the King Arthur movies: we even have two swords! The sword in the stone is one, and the one the Lady of the Lake tossed at Arthur. (“You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!” <— recognize this quote? If you’re a true cinephile, you should.)
  • The Lord of Rings is a great exception to the ideal of questing FOR an object. In this case, the fellowship is about destroying something: the One Ring of Power. It’s a self-proclaimed fool’s quest, but somehow, the good guys win. (Although not without great cost along the way.)
  • The Lord of the Rings does the sword thing too, with the shards of Narsil being forged as a great flaming weapon, to be reforged and wielded only by a descendant of Isildur. So we can check that box too.
  • In the Hobbit, it’s the Arkenstone.
  • The Wizard of Oz has the Ruby Slippers.
  • In the various incarnations of Dune, the Sandworms are an unusual MacGuffin, which, like Harry Potter, are also in the form of a living being. The spice itself is a HUGE MacGuffin — without it, space travel would simply cease. And this relates right back to the Sandworms. Lost yet? Ignore David Lunch and the SciFi versions; re-read the novel. I hear there will be yet another filmatic attempt at Dune soon…so we can hope it’s the definitive version.
  • In a less fantasy mode, we’ve got Pulp Fiction. What exactly was in the magically glowing briefcase? Was it Marcellus Wallus’ soul, as many fans speculated? We never find out, although it actually doesn’t matter in the end.
  • Fantastic Beasts also featured a magical suitcase that all characters sought. In this film, however, we definitely saw what was in there.
  • Star Wars is usually about MacGuffins, which are often force-users (ie – people). In Solo, look at how Coaxium drives the plot. The Millennium Falcon  qualifies too. In The Force Awakens, Luke himself is the MacGuffin (and so is his lightsaber). A New Hope and Rogue One have the stolen Death Star data tapes. Star Wars is loaded with MacGuffins, including R2D2 himself. Once you start noticing these, you can’t stop. (Kind of like eating Pringles.)
  • The Maltese Falcon – an obvious one, from a classic-era film. Hmmm, also Rosebud in Citizen Cane.
  • All heist, thriller, and caper movies are about finding a thing. Often a tech thing, and sometimes just money — as in Die Hard. I dare you to name a caper that isn’t about acquiring something. Look at the Ocean’s films for a start. Everyone’s after something, and the whole plot hinges around that thing.
  • Apollo 13 and even First Man are about similar MacGuffins, be they the moon itself, or just finding a way to get home from said moon.
  • Are you a Buffy fan? Remember her Axe of Power? MacGuffin. The entire series is loaded with MacGuffins, including Buffy herself.
  • In the X-Files, aliens from space qualify as MacGuffins. And I’m not sure this was ever resolved. At least Scully learned to believe. 😉

Clearly, this is an ongoing list. I can’t sit here all day naming every flick with a MacGuffin. But feel free, absolutely, to name your favorites in the comments. It’s good geeky fun!

MacGuffins Bars at AMC Theaters

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