Have You Ever Walked Out of a Movie? Which One? And Why?

Maybe you’ve done this very thing. If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Last night, I walked out of a movie.

I wasn’t going for popcorn. I didn’t need to visit the Men’s Room (although the movie did make me sick to my stomach).

But I wasn’t leaving because I found the film to be an abomination. It wasn’t poorly made. And I’m not condemning the movie, nor am I criticizing anybody who sits through it.

I left because I did not want to see what I suspected was coming. To put it simply, the filmmakers did not earn my trust, and I feared they would inflict images and scenes on the audience that I could not, in good conscience, watch. I wanted to protect my eyes, my head, my heart, my sprit, from the possibility of severe injury.

Strangely, that’s the second time it’s happened: A movie turning my stomach and driving me out of the theater. And it happened in the same theater, on the same night of the week, while a major storm gathered in the skies outside. A weird coincidence. If I were the superstitious type, I’d start avoiding that theatre, and pay closer attention to the weather.

This has caused me to think back on times that I’ve walked out of the theater before. If I listed all of the movies I’ve turned off halfway through, it would be a very long list indeed. But it takes something stronger to make me pick up my belongings and leave a theater, especially if I’m sitting in the middle where my departure will disrupt the experience of people around me.

I’m going to write an article about the movie that lost my trust, and the “Why?” of my departure. But first, I’d like to hear from you.

Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, which movie? And what was it that compelled you to leave?

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Norris

    My wife and I walked out of both “Watchmen” and “The Master” and for the same reason. Both were vile crap. At least “Watchmen” didn’t add insult to injury by boring us the way “The Master” did.

    But still, vile crap.

  • denis

    I walked out of “killing them softly” last week , Brad Pit has ruined his film career with this craSS , ultra violent silly, silly film !!! i wrote to the manager of the cinema and told him I was deeply offended by this horrible film. i am ok now as I went to see the brilliantly funny french film of the century: “UNTOUCHABLE”……..A Great film !!

  • Lee

    I walked out of “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”, the only movie I’ve ever walked out of. More out of disappointment than anything else; I really enjoyed Excellent Adventure, and went to BJ because it was the sequel. Soooo bad, both in concept and in execution.

  • http://plainandpreciousthing.blogspot.com/ Rozann

    I walked out of Conan the Barbarian (the Arnold version) with a date after we decided it was just too violent and weird. Just recently my husband and I walked out of the remake of Total Recall, again, way too violent for us. Interesting to me, he was the one who suggested leaving. He usually tolerates violent films. Hopefully his taste is maturing, finally. I usually research a film and know what I’m getting into. Total Recall was a spur of the moment decision and it turned out badly.

  • barbaranicolosi

    Most recently I walked out of Blue Like Jazz because it was pedestrian in terms of execution and thought. I walked out of Push because it was a moving mess of nonsense. I walked out of Forty Year Old Virgin because it was so crass I didn’t think its ultimate good message could redeem the sewer in which it was dragging me. At Sundance a few years ago, I walked out of the religiously bigoted Forgiving the Franklins and then some other movie everyone was raving about in which a guy was having sex with his horse.

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  • Gaith

    I was only watching it on DVD, but I had to give up “Knocked Up” halfway through. The Rogen character was being unbearably mean to the Heigl character, and it was neither funny nor at all plausible.

  • Erik Naydiuk

    I would have walked out of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” By far – BY FAR – the biggest, most incoherent mess I have ever seen on the screen. But I was with a group of friends and one of them was my ride home. We all ended up hating it though.

    I turned off “The Last Airbender” about thirty minutes in. That movie was far worse than it had any right to be, based on its source material (a Nickelodeon cartoon that is far better than any cartoon has any right to be).

  • Alan Smithee

    One movie I wished I had walked out on was Mars Attacks! I saw it in theaters at a birthday party when I was a kid. Rest assured, it was way too garish and extreme for a sheltered little nine-year-old like me. I haven’t watched it since; I can’t even look at a DVD cover of it without getting a huge adrenaline rush.

  • Susan Mullen

    I’ve never walked out of a movie, but I really wanted to walk out of “The Verdict” with Paul Newman. My experience of it was a perfect example of “I’ll never get that hour and a half back!” Like many who have posted, I research a movie pretty thoroughly before I see it in the theater. And I can’t resist — I did see “2001 A Space Odyssey” in the theater, a Cinerama theater no less, back in the 60′s. I loved it. Kubrick was a genius.
    Also, I almost never promise anything, because I regard promises very seriously. But once when I was working my convenience store job, this couple came in. I didn’t recognize them, so they weren’t regular customers. The man was all bug-eyed about something. He told me “Promise me that you’ll never see ‘Natural Born Killers.’” He was very upset and so I promised. I’ve been curious about it, but I gave my word and I’m keeping it.

  • David

    Wow- amazing the variety of tastes represented- other commenters have walked out (or been tempted to walk out) of some of my favorite movies. (Raising Arizona?! 2001!?)

    I have walked out only once (as far as I can remember), and have been tempted only two other times.
    When I was in High School, I wanted to walk out of Scary Movie, but the friends I was with wanted to stick it out. My wife and I went to see The Hangover- she walked out not quite halfway through, I stayed (which sound terrible- we were in a mall and she assured me she was content to shop and meet me after the movie, which, based on reviews of some respected critics, I was not ready to give up on). I did walk out as soon as the credits began to roll (with still shots from the wild night), which I don’t normally do, so maybe that counts.

    The one movie I walked out on (early), was also with my wife (while we were dating): Dumb and Dumberer. Dumb and Dumber is a movie that shaped my high school years. I knew literally every word and shot of that movie. We made it through 15 minutes of the ‘sequel,’ and ended up seeing Seabiscuit (which we also almost walked out on, mostly because of the scene-by-scene commentary loudly provided by the woman sitting in front of us).

  • Jeremy Landes

    I typically have to leave Christian-themed movies such as Seven Says in Utopia and then there was a Billy Graham movie that came out with Jay Underwood and Pat Hingle. I wondered if Jeffrey may have walked out of Odd Life of Timothy Green – I nearly walked out of the preview. Another film I left, out of sheer boredom, was The Firm.

  • http://WCWP.org Chris MacIntosh

    I remember 2 films that I walked out on. The first was the ’50′s version of “Invaders From Mars”. I saw it just after my mom passed away and it just freaked me out. The whole idea of the Martians taking control of the kids parents was too much for me to handle. The other film was the version of Flash Gordon with Timothy Dalton. I grew up absolutely loved the three Buster Crabbe serials. The newer one was just awful!!!

  • Charlotte Vera

    I walked out of Krippendorf’s Tribe when I was 14. I wasn’t finding the movie remotely interesting or humorous, so when the fake tribal sex scene started, I left.

    I see relatively few films in theatre, and I usually research a film ahead of time to see if it’s worth my while. The few exceptions to this have been when I’ve been out on dates or out with a group. If the people I’d been with had wanted to walk out of Aeon Flux or Flight of the Phoenix I would have been quite happy to do so simply because the movies were so terrible. As it was, I suffered through them. The Core was a similarly terrible movie, but it was so terrible that we were all laughing at it, which made the experience bearable.

  • Larry

    Believe it or not, I walked out of “A Christmas Story”. I was 2 months into what ended up being a tortured 9 month relationship that spanned my sophomore year of high school. About 20 minutes in my girlfriend stood up and said, “I can’t take this anymore. Let’s leave.” I probably should have taken it as a sign that we weren’t meant to be together, and just told her to go ahead and leave while I stayed and enjoyed a classic. It would have saved me 7 months of teenage angst.

  • Allison Hudson

    Trainspotting. I’m told it’s brilliant, but all the bodily functions were just too nauseating…

    • barbaranicolosi

      I walked out of Trainspotting too. It was the scene early on when he was vomiting in a filthy bathroom stall. Not in the least bit entertaining to me.

  • John Baalke

    Gabrielle and I walked out of “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” The first 30 minutes or so (what we saw of it) just moved along so slowly and awkwardly that we couldn’t manage more. It was a memorable walk-out though, as afterwards we went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and had a great conversation over a nice Spanish coffee.

  • Erick Schwartzkopf

    My Father the Hero. If you’ve seen it, you would understand why.

  • Cooper Williams

    I feel a little odd answering this, actually. I sat through Sin City, Natural Born Killers, and Man Bites Dog (I should have stopped that last one; DON’T WATCH.) However, I quit Raising Arizona halfway through because I couldn’t take the hick-ness. I love the Coen Bros. though.

  • Sara Z.

    Hot Tub Time Machine. We were on vacation in a one-theater town and that’s what was playing. Trusted acquaintances had called it “actually funny”. Eventually we stopped waiting for that to happen. We’re not prudes, and love a good dumb laugh, but it was…yeah.

    I almost walked out of Moulin Rouge in the first half-hour, but decided to hang in there and was really glad I did, otherwise I would have missed Ewan and Nicole singing Elton John…

  • Josh

    The second Matrix movie.

    …yeah, that was a wise move.

  • http://twitter.com/gurghi A. Campbell

    It’s COMPLIANCE you left, right?

    Never walked out of a movie. But I do refuse to see IRREVERSIBLE, or anything from/by Lars Von Trier.

    • Charlotte Vera

      Hmmm, my personal guess is Lawless. I’m not sure I could stomach that movie.

  • Bill A.

    Never by choice. My father yanked me out of the animated Ralph Bakshi film WIZARDS within the first 5 minutes. He felt it was too intense. I was 8. I need to (re)visit it sometime.

    Like the above poster, I also walked out of LAST BOY SCOUT, but because my friends (who were driving) merely thought it was a waste of time.

    I don’t feel I can judge a movie unless I’ve stayed through the (sometimes) bitter end. No matter how distressing and/or repulsive it may be. I do understand why people feel the need to remove themselves from disturbing imagery. I recently watched SUPER, with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page, and I’ll bet many had to bolt for such reasons.

  • http://joehollies.blogspot.co.uk/ Joseph Hollies

    As someone who can watch gory horrors, I did think during the amputation scene of “127 Hours” that I might have to walk out for some air. I stayed put but I did wonder if I was going to faint and ended up with a bright, distorted vision for about a minute or two. It’s why I rated the film so highly in fact because I got such an experience out of it and for me, watching “extreme” films is like cinema as an endurance test.

    Mark Kermode has also talked about walking out of movies in this video where he talks about the French “anti-’Hostel’” film “Martyrs” (the video does contain short clips from the film):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATf4ewnUXO0

    And in this one, he reads out some responding Comments (my Comment is under the username ‘Brotherjosephus’):
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/markkermode/2009/04/walkout_060409.html

  • Rebecca Cusey

    Great question! I don’t remember ever walking out. Something about professional determination usually makes me stay to the bitter end even if I’d rather leave.

    I do cherish a story about my sweet, departed grandparents who in the 80s went to see “The Crying Game” because they heard it had nice shots of Ireland. I still remember their faces when they came home. I don’t think they ever went to a movie in the theater again. It makes me giggle to think of it, remembering how shocked they were, but it’s really very sad.

  • http://www.parallax-view.org SeanAx

    Apart from walking out on a film due to technical issues (bad projection, sound problems, and most recently a DVD substituted for a 35mm print without warning the audience of the substitution — it was because the print never showed and the only other option was to cancel), I can only remember two films where I walked out.

    The first was an erotic French film by Walerian Borowczyk being shown on campus while I was in college, very arty, supposedly, but I found it garish and simply out to titillate and push the buttons of the audience. After watching a Countess Bathory segment, the next sequence opened up on priests and nuns and I decided I didn’t need to see where he was going to take this.

    The other was a completely innocuous film that couldn’t hold my attention, which was frankly occupied with other things that distracted me from my full attention. I simply needed to clear my head so I left. I never caught up with the film. I’ve sat through far worse than the two I walked out on.

    • Christian

      Sean: Did you ask for you money back on the screening where a DVD was substituted for a film print? I’ve had this happen to me more than once at film festivals. My outrage is decidedly NOT shared by other festgoers. When I’ve gone up the chain to get an answer, I’m told “that’s the best we could do,” “print didn’t arrive,” “it’s better than nothing.” And I (sort of) agree. But it irks me that the change is NOT ANNOUNCED before the screening, and refunds or exchanges are never offered.

  • http://Facebook Trevor

    I’ve walked out of two films. The first was The Last Boy Scout. I would have stayed, but the friends I was with were more conservative and were put off by the violence and sex early in the film. The second was the Chris Rock remake of Down to Earth. We gave it 30 minutes and found nothing even slightly funny or entertaining.

  • http://www.starzer.net Ken Starzer

    After our Sunday night church college group meeting, a friend suggested we go see Blue Velvet. We had no idea what we were getting into. I walked out when Dennis Hopper started screaming into someone’s crotch.

    • http://www.starzer.net Ken Starzer

      I had never seen anything so disturbing in my life. I felt violated.

  • http://www.GwenMeharg.com Gwen Meharg

    The Transformer movie, “The Dark of the Moon.” My boys waeolppppp (cAT JUst walked across the keyboard.) The boys wanted me to watch it. I TRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIED. I couldn’t do it. I usually work on an art project while I am watching bad movies and I can make it through, but this was just toooooooooo, toooooooooooo, tooooooooooooooooo. That and the boys were complaining about my running commentary. I left because it was bad. Worse than the Martian Christmas movie.

  • Heather

    walked out of “Cop Land” the main word used was the “f” word and while it’s fine sparingly, the dialogue was just so lame.

  • http://uneasyhomeschooler.wordpress.com SKEdman

    I walked out of “American Psycho.” I might not have, but I went to see it with my MOM. A few years later I watched it again–alone–and realized that by the time we left the theater, the worst was over. Ah, well.

  • Don

    I walked out of Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry” in 1997. I was there with my girlfriend and her parents and there was a really uncomfortable oral sex scene (no nudity, yet graphic… and played for laughs). This came after a lot of dialogue that seemed incredibly crude to us at the time. I’m sorry to say that my girlfriend initiated the walkout, and I followed her. Her parents stayed to finish the movie!

  • Rosie Perera

    My brother and I walked out of “Splash” in 1984 in a mall in Florida when we were on Spring Break. There was something going wrong with the projection and it was really terrible. They kept stopping and starting it again, and we didn’t have the patience to wait until they figured out what was wrong and got through it. The movie wasn’t that great anyway. They offered to give us coupons to come watch it again sometime, but we were only passing through so we declined.

    I also walked out of “I ♥ Huckabees.” I found it so incredibly stupid. I can’t remember much about the half of it that I sat through, but I love these quotes from reviewers and they seem to jive with my experience: ” I Heart Huckabees is an unstructured, simplistic, endlessly self-aware mess.” (http://bit.ly/PR18iX) “I loathed the characters in I Heart Huckabees. They are jittery, shallow, stupid, and agitated, and that’s exactly how they make the viewer feel.” (http://regrettablesincerity.com/?p=684)

  • http://www.horizonsofthepossible.wordpress.com Russell Smith

    Natural Born Killers. 20 minutes into it, I knew that this was not a healthy film to be watching.

  • Deborah Dickerson

    A Fish Called Wanda. It was so long ago that I don’t remember why I left. I think it was just too weird for too long. My friend, Jennifer, and I couldn’t take it any more and we left. The husbands stayed.
    If I had seen 2001 Space Odyssey in a theater, I would have walked out.

  • http://denythecat.blogspot.com Brian Sullivan

    I walked out of Fatal Attraction. Basically I just didn’t believe the characters or the story. IT was too contrived and manipulative. Besides, who would pass up Anne Archer for Glenn Close?


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