What is Your Earliest Remembered Moviegoing Experience?

Harrison Ford and Alfred Molina in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Photo: Paramount Pictures

I was inspired by Nate's post at Film Experience to mine my memory banks in search of what I remember to be my earliest moviegoing experience. Of course, there's no way of knowing for sure what was the first movie I went to as not even my parents can remember. It may have been Star Wars the year I was born, but the earliest memory of the movies I have retained was from when I was four-years-old and seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark at the drive-in. However, that is a bit of an exaggeration.

I chose the screen capture of Alfred Molina's back covered in tarantulas because that is the first and last thing I remember from that night other than waking up in the back of my father's Jeep on the way home. The sight of all those spiders has been burned into my memory and will always be my earliest movie memory.

So how about you, what's your earliest memory? Also, add some details in your comments to let us know how old you were at the time you saw it.

  • John-PT

    Peter Jacksons's King Kong as teenager

    Polar Expressa as kid.

    • John-PT


      • John-PT

        I just remember: first movie EVER on cinema was Pokemon 1: Mewtwo vs Mew

    • Josh

      Hmmmm.. Odd choices. You stated King Kong as a teen and Polar Express as a kid, well they were released one year apart

  • travis

    My earliest movie going experience is a toss-up, mainly because I cannot recall which happened first, I was young...deal with it, but they are: Seeing the teaser poster for Jurassic Park and wondering how a movie could take 65 million years to make, and also seeing Stargate, more specifically when they activate the stargate and wanting to take that ride.

  • http://www.twitter.com/thenewpsies Emily

    I remember GREATLY embarrassing my mum at 7 while watching Spice Girls the Movie by dancing & singing in the cinema, oh dear.

  • LouAnn

    Oh, that's easy 'Bambi' and of course summertime drive-ins 'The Parent Trap' 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'. How old? LOL I think seeing Bambi in the movie theatre dates me well enough. You do the math.

  • Jimmy Hamilton

    I saw Titanic in theaters when I was seven years old - that was my first cinema experience. I then remember crushing really hard on both Leonardo DiCaprio AND Kate Winslet which prompted me to question my sexuality when I got a little older.

    I'm fine now, lol.

  • Adriano

    Watching Ridley Scott's "Legend" with my family when I was four. I vividly remember my father asking me, by the end of the movie, if I had liked it. I said, "No, I wish it didn't have a happy ending".

    And I remember the next day, when I drew a picture of the movie's devil (played by Tim Curry) saying, "You don't know me, boy...". In my picture, the devil was inside the sun, if I'm not mistaken!

  • Dave

    I believe E.T. was my first cinema experience. I also remember my grandmother taking me to see the animated Transformers movie its opening weekend.

    • JonDoeSc

      E.T. also the first moive I was taken to by my parents. I also remember bagering my mother to take me to the transformer movie also. Who Framed Roger Rabbit sticks out also, my grandmother took me to that one. In between those two I remember sneaking into Pink Flamingos when we were supposed to be in the Karate Kid. That was my first R moive.

    • kristen

      The very first film I remember seeing was ET, but my most distinct early memory is queuing up to see The Care Bears Movie twice and being disappointed each time because the cinema was full. We only went on Tuesdays or Thursdays because it was cheaper, but third time lucky! I also succumbed to the merchandising bug early, begging my parents for a Funshine Bear which was then stolen on the first day I took it to school.


  • LJ

    It may have been The Lion King, If I can remember a little harder me and my mum just missed the titles and came in with Zazu talking to Scar at the films beginning. Still as good as it was then.

  • http://joker93.livejournal.com Nick

    I'm 16 and first went to the movies when I was 9, so I remember it vividly. It was Treasure Planet. Probably not the best movie to begin your moviegoing with, but I do still remember it fondly and remember many scenes and the whole experience despite never re-watching the movie.

    But the first movie, watched in the theater, that truly rocked my world? LOTR The Return of the King. Funny thing is, prior to watching I neither read the books nor watched the previous films. But it was still very rich and absolutely unforgettable experience. I went to the movies more than 200 times since then (I'm counting 'em all actually), and that's still one of best moviegoing experiences I've had. The only one that was better was the midnight screening of The Dark Knight.

  • Natalia

    I don't remember the first animated films that I had seen because I had seen a lot.. The Little Mermaid, All Dogs go to Heaven, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin etc etc... I had seen all of them!

    However I remember the first proper film that I saw. It was Jurassic Park (1993) and I was just 6 years old. I couldn't read all the subtitles yet (I live in Greece). I saw it 18 times at the cinema! [we had a cinema back then so I didn't pay for all 18 times...just for the first 2 because i was in another city] I loved that film (and still, after more than 1000 films, I still love it).. I have it in videotape and I bought it on dvd too. It just reminds me what it was to be a kid and watch something so magical!

  • Dustyn

    I remember seeing the live action Flintstones movie at a drive-in for my 3rd birthday. My most memorable movie experience would probably be when I saw Tenacious D:The Pick of Destiny opening night.(Empty theater, me and my best friend singing the entire time)

  • maja

    For me, my earliest memory ever in my life is going on the ET ride at Universal Studios. As for my first moviegoing experience, it was Aladin when I was 6 on a school trip. I remember seeing Fantasia not long after

  • Owen

    Robocop II is the first movie I remember...I must've been around three or four. I still get this trippy deja vu everytime I see it.

  • Nate

    My first movie theater experience that I remember was seeing Pocahontas. I was 6 when it came out. The main thing I remember thinking was that it was way too short. I remember it ending and me saying to my parents "That was it? It just started!". I'm pretty impressed that 6-year old me had the patience to say an 80 minute movie was short, but...looking back, it WAS pretty short.

  • Joel

    The Amazing Panda Adventure (1995)... I don't remember the movie but flash of it and I remember the poster outside the cinema...

  • Sean

    The first movie I saw in theaters was The Lion King at age 3, and it's still one of my favorite movies to this day. Other memorable moments were seeing The Pagemaster and freaking out over it, and my father taking me to see the re-release of the Star Wars trilogy before The Phantom Menace came out.

  • Colin

    Wow ummm, let me think, on VHS, which was the format I saw anything on, my earliest memories were Back to the Future, Roger Rabbit, and the original Superman. All of which still remain some of my favorite movies. Earliest theater memory was seeing a re-release of Snow white as well Lion King, Forrest Gump, and one of the Batmans but the hell if I can remeber with all certainty as which one. I also remember my older brother sneaking me into see Interview with the Vampire when I was like 6 or 7 and it scared the shit out of me at the time. My first taste of Art-house fair though was going to see Mulholland Drive and Memento when I was about 13 or 14.

  • TS

    The very first movie i have ever seen was Toy Story 2. That is kind of why i love toy story and am so excited for Toy Story 3. I remember Toy Story 2 being the reason why i love movies as much as i do. I remember the scariest movie i've seen in the theater is probably a reshow of the silence of the lambs. the funniest movie i've seen the theater is either the hangover or a reshow of wayne's world. LOVE that movie.

  • Ryan

    First film in the cinema?

    Toy Story 2. Saw it opening day, when I was all of 3 years old.

  • JunJun

    The Last Crusade. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Went home and asked to see Raiders and Temple on home video. Loved the trilogy. I try to forget Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

  • Helen

    Great topic! First film in the cinema was Snow White as small child some time in the mid-70s. The thing I remember the most was wanting to see The Land That Time Forgot and my parents saying no as it would be too scary for my little sister

  • Philip

    the earliest i can remember is seeing National Treasure, and the trailer of the 1st Pirates Of The Carribean which looked soooo awesome and then looking at my dad saying 'you know youre not going to see this right???"...oh and one of the pokemon movies too

  • Joker

    Scooby Doo!

  • Austin

    When I was 3 years old, I went to go see Muppets Treasure Island and it scared the hell outta me. I left the theater crying.

  • Daniel

    The first movie I remember seeing in theaters was jumanji. I remember being very excited because growing up in an orphanage I rarely got to go out especially to the movies. And I remember finding Bonnie Hunt very attractive even though i was like 10.

  • therapycase1279

    I saw Toy Story 2 when i was either 4 or 5, dont remember. My mother was terrified that I would be terrified but I loved the whole thing, especially the theater expierience. I kept turning around to look at the people behind me and the projector screen. To this day Toy Story 2 is one of my favorite movies and I cant wait for the 3rd

  • Phil

    Flash Gordon. Yes i am that old. The second most fond experience was a double feature of weird science and back to the future. My first rated "R" experience was Terminator, my older brother vouched as my guardian to get me in. Good times.

  • Carson Dyle

    Aladdin. However, I can only really remember one bit of that experience, and it's a completely low-key scene, as well. It's the bit where Jafar has just been found out, and he escapes to his lair, and just goes into a bit of a laughing fit, before choking Iago. For some reason, I can remember that, and nothing else. I was about 3 years old at the time, I think... perhaps a bit older. Apparently I was taken to see Beauty and the Beast when I was even younger, and apparently I loved it, but I have no recollection of that.

  • Charlie

    Hrmmm my parents say it was Toy Story when I was about 2 in 1995.
    But I remember Flubber in 1997. I was 4 at the time.

  • Sean A

    I remember going to see Home Alone with my family one weekend afternoon. We were deciding which film to see at home before hand. I hadn't heard of Home Alone and I desperately wanted to see something else at the time, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. I've tried to remember ever since but have had no luck.

    Anyone know where I could find out what was in cinemas at the same time as home alone?

    Another early memory was going to see Drop Dead Fred. I remember walking into the cinema lobby and reading 'Freddy's Revenge' or 'Freddy's Return' up on the big board. It was a 3d release of one of the Nightmare On Elm Street films which I had confused it with Drop Dead Fred. I was extremely excited to get 3d glasses, then was equally disappointed when I didn't receive any.

    • Charlie

      Type of Home Alone and click the release date and it will have the entire release calendar of 1990.

  • badge

    @Sean A:

    If you cross-reference 1990-1990 with FAMILY FILM on the IMDB Advanced Search you'll get a list of about 80 titles, possibly one of these is the film you're thinking of...

    Here's the link: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?genres=family&release_date=1990,1990&title_type=feature

    My earliest memory was HEY THERE YOGI BEAR which had scenes in that that terrified me (who knows who kids react to stuff!!). I may have been about 5 or 6, and I was a country kid so our hometown cinema showed older movies on the weekends because they were obviously cheaper to hire and the local kids would watch anything...

    The first film that completely blew me away and made me aware of CINEMA was a re-screening of Kubrick's 2001, when I was 14.

  • Melissa

    I have a horrid memory so the earliest I can remember was when I was seven and my aunt was visiting, so my mum took m, my sister, my grandma and my aunt to go see Hercules in 1997.

  • caro

    the one and only ET

  • Daniel

    My parents took me to see Jurassic Park at a local mall here in Cali when I was seven. I'm pretty sure I had been to the movies before that, but apparently none of them made a big enough impression to etch themselves into my memory forever until JP.

  • Mickche

    The earliest i could remember was a film i don't even remember. Me & my sister saw a film while my mother & her boyfriend saw another. It may have been a Pokemon movie, i'm not sure. But i do remember, going into my mum's cinema and watching the end of City of Angels

  • Jane

    The earliest memory I have of going to a movie on the big screen was one of the re-releases of " Disney's Sleeping Beauty" when I was around five or so.
    But the movie that made the biggest impact was when I went to see "Star Wars IV: The New Hope" in 1977. (It will always be plain old "Star Wars" to me.) It really rocked my world - there was noting else like it!! I went to the theatre multiple times that summer.

    • Älskling

      That "Sleeping Beauty" re-release in the 70s was the first film I can really remember well, too. Maleficent made quite an impression on me (before and after she transformed into a dragon). I also have a vague recollection of "The Rescuers" when it was first released.

      And I realize now that Star Wars (the one and only '77 original) is the first film I saw MORE THAN ONCE in the theaters. Jane, you're so right: there really was noting else like it at the time. Huge touchstone for the children of our generation.

  • Gavi

    well, my mom was watching star wars return of the jedi when her water broke lol

  • loxmang

    my first was Hook with robin williams

  • Pinstripedjon

    5 years ago, Hercules (the Disney animated movie).

  • Joe_Kerr*

    Purple Rain and Apollonia in the waters of Lake Minnatonka. I was four and didn't know what breasts were until then.

  • Matt

    The first movie I remember seeing was The Lion King, when I was 4. I still love it to this day.

  • Mari S

    The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was Bambi. Or a part of it since my mom had to take me out of the theater because I couldn't stop crying... It was so sad when Bambi's mother died. I was 5 or 6 at the time.

    The next one I remember was The Bear about 5 years later in '88 or '89 and the same thing happened again! This time I stayed in the theater though. I must have seen other movies between there but none that I can remember.

  • zyzygy

    I saw Orca(I remember Bo Dereck getting her leg eaten) , the Car(who can forget that horn) and Star wars(everything!), my Dad gave permission to put movie posters in his Bakery and we got to go to the movies for free, guess 1977(I was 5) got me hooked!

  • Evan P

    I'm 19 years of age and I remember seeing Toy Story in theaters. Although I can't be sure if that was before or after seeing a rerelease of Star Wars. However, my favorite movie-going experience as a child was seeing Star Wars Epidsode 1 with my family after being pulled out of school just so we could see the first showing. I loved Star Wars (still do) and the thought of being able to see a new installment after having worn out the originals on tape was such a cool feeling. Movies are big in my house and we see a lot of them in theaters. It would be difficult to pinpoint which one was my first.

  • Kob

    i'm twenty one now and the earliest and one of my most cherished moviegoing experiences was Jurassic Park and that was back when i was four years old (came out inbetween birthdays). That was a brilliant film then and still is one of my favourites. That film along with Terminator 2 and Aliens (both home video) really got me into cinema.

    Wow, i've been going to the cinema for 17 years, never thought about that before

  • rattler76

    The Black Cauldron (1985)
    I was 9 and I don't remember much of it but I do recall getting well into it. I think I got angry at the bad guy when watching it.

  • Stephen

    My first remembered experience was seeing the Robin Williams movie Toys with my dad. We had to leave the theatre because it was too intense at the time. I didn't like the war toys aspect, I guess.

  • Grim

    The Crow...
    Terminator 2...

  • AJ

    being 16 I remeber my first vivid movie e4xperience was a gug's life. But I know the week after getting out of the hospital after being in there for av year my mom and dad was toy story at a local theater

  • http://okinawaassault.wordpress.com/ Paolo

    Forrest Gump. My grandma took me, my sister and my cousin. I have no memory of what happened in the movie except for little Forrest's leg getting stuck in the gutter and Forrest in the rain.

  • http://www.eyecrave.net Shane

    I remember going to the drive-in where they were showing Mask w/ Cher and Rambo: First Blood.

    And at some point ET - The Extra-Terrestrial, but don't remember which was first.

    My first solo experience (w/o parents) was to Masters of the Universe.

  • C.B.C.

    I remember going to the movies at a relatively young age but the one film in particular that sticks out among the rest was a sneak preview of Batman Returns in May of '92. At the age of seven, it was the very first sneak preview I had ever attended. I even remember my parents having a conversation in pig latin, on whether or not we should go, just to get a rise out of me. It was worth the taunting.

  • J. Bryant

    FLASH GORDON back in 1980. I'm pretty sure I had no idea what was going on in the actual movie, but I'll never forget the images.

  • dre

    Robin Hood and Little John running through the forest Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally, Golly, what a day

  • http://www.hareandketchup.com Cody

    My earliest memory of going to a movie is when I went with my family to see Toy Story. I was about 4 or 5 years old. We ended up getting to the movie late because on the way there was the first and only time we have ever been stopped by a train in the town between us and the movie theater.

  • edward abrahantes

    I'am a little older than most of the post up here but my first movie was JAWS in 1975.I was 9 yrs old and that was the movie that started my craze for everything that's film.I remember some Disney titles before hand but nothing blew me away like JAWS.Summer of 75 was never going to be the same.I saw it in the old Warner theatre in Jersey City and that very same summer we visited family in Florida.I never went into the water.I got to see it again in a moviehouse right by the beach.Theatre was packed but very few people were in the water.Two summers later I saw the film that would stay with me for the rest of my life.A little film called STAR WARS.The rest is history.

  • JoAnn

    Lawrence of Arabia in wonderfull Cinescope. That was a LOT of sand. And the same year (1962 for you puppies) How the West Was Won. Lot's of water and wheat. My parents apparently liked to go to the movies and were to cheap for a baby sitter. I got to see a lot of stuff a kid normally wouldn't, worked out great.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Good Lord, those two experiences would have you drunk on movies for a lifetime.

      • JoAnn

        Absolutely, totally, wonderfully warped. Can't thank them enough.

  • Ken

    I saw Star Wars in '77. I "graduated kindergarten and my mom and grandmother took me. I got my first 2 SW action figures as well, the tusken raider and the power droid, ( you know, the blue trash can with legs).

  • http://deleted Helgi

    Oh how sick can the feeling get - I feel old. Now I understand this site a little bit more. Some people here are just out of the gate. Well, there was one who saw Star Wars in good old ´77. Does no one remember seeing Jaws for the first time in theatre? One Flew? Taxi Driver? I saw Jaws five nights in a row. Money well spent. The memory just won´t go away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2806917 Alex Baer

    The first movie theater experience I can recall sticks out because its very difficult to see the film now. It was 1986 (I was four-years-old). It was the 40th anniversary re-release of Song of the South. Blissfully unaware of all the controversy I had a great time.

  • Jack

    I'm squinting to remember. Three movies that come to my mind. When I was 5, I know saw the movies in theatres:

    -Toy Story

    But I cannot remember which one I saw first. But it is one of them.

  • Tim P.

    My first memory was going to the theatre to see "Don't Look Now" in 1973. (I was 5). Extremely scary movie to a 5 year old and I distinctly remember the final scene. I have no idea what my parents were thinking....

  • Elizabeth Sullivan

    We used to go to the Drive-In a lot when I was a kid - back in the 70s. I can remember seeing Cannonball Run, The Empire Strikes Back, The (first) Muppet Movie, Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can. I can remember being in my PJs and falling asleep in the back seat and being scared shitless while watching the Muppet Movie - the scene where Kermit almost gets electrocuted.

    Damn, I miss the Drive-In. :(

  • Sean R

    The first film I ever saw in the theater was State of Grace (1990). I was five years old and my father wanted to see the film bad enough that he made a day out of it with me. The film was by no means a film for a five year old but I remember my eyes being shut at certain scenes (i.e. the sex scene between Robin Wright and Sean Penn). For me, that film was an experience because I got to spend the entire day with my father at a film. It also started a trend, every Friday, we would see a new film. It has been twenty years, and we have never missed a Friday.