A little secret: sometimes, as a writer, there’s an opportunity for a story that arrives so fully formed it feels impossible to turn down. Even if it demands awful things of your physical or mental health, the surefire knowledge that a straightforward piece is just waiting to be written can override better judgement.
Keep this in mind as we look, now, at Brian VanHooker’s seemingly self-destructive quest to watch every Marvel movie in a single sitting at one of the diabolical theater chains offering such a marathon ahead of Avengers: Endgame.
VanHooker details the entire process over at Mel Magazine, including his goal not to “sleep through any movie,” regardless of quality, and the fact that he consulted with a “sleep doctor” to prepare for his dreaded task. Prepared for possible hallucinations and having been instructed, along with the rest of the audience, not to sleep in the theater’s aisles, the marathon begins a few minutes before 10am on Tuesday.
A couple of hours later, we learn that things are going well—that “there is no detectable odor in the theater,” which VanHooker is expecting will develop at some point due to the “342 sweaty nerds” in attendance. He shares a trivia tidbit: “Robert Downey Jr. changes his clothes 38 times in [Iron Man.]” The sleep doctor suggested making “a game” out of the movies in order to stay alert.
Fortified by smuggled food and coffee, VanHooker continues onward. Eight hours in, the showing breaks long enough for him to go outside. At night he goes “into the men’s room and [stares] into the lights for a few minutes” in order not to fall asleep. Some people pass out, others exercise. Nearly 15 hours deep, he changes clothes, noting that the theater still doesn’t smell bad. After 24, he takes a nap. People snore loudly and VanHooker “unexpectedly [blacks] out for like 10 seconds” at 32 hours.
Disoriented, but awake, he leaves the theater after Endgame finishes, 58 hours and 15 minutes in total having passed.
“I will say that depriving yourself of sleep for three days is not the best way to get excited for a film,” VanHooker writes. “There’s also the fact that the whole experience has made my entire body go into surrender mode.”
Quality of cinematic experience aside, the piece caps off with another strong discouragement for anyone planning to follow in his footsteps. Though his task is complete, VanHooker describes how everything catches up to him on the way home so dramatically that he ends up racing into “a New Jersey rest stop, where I find myself having to shit and throw up at the same time.”
Read the entire piece here. It takes far less than 59 hours to get through and you probably won’t shit or throw up even once doing it.
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