The Bernardoni family, a mixture of Albany and upstate New York, arejust one example of a new trend of American families flocking to movie theaters to watch a Christmas Day movie with relatives and loved ones. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — As Southwest Georgians slowly stirred to life on Christmas morning, most families across the region eagerly tore into their presents, ate brunch or lunch then made their most important decision of the day — what movie they would go see that afternoon.
All across America families flocked to see movies ranging from “A Madea Christmas,” “The Hobbitt: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Grudge Match” to “American Hustle.” Over the past several years, Christmas movie day has slowly ingrained itself into the American lifestyle has become a holiday family tradition.
Industry analysts predict that more than 1 million Americans will fill theaters on Christmas day, seeking momentary relief from the stress-filled lead up to the holiday. And Albany is no different.
At the Carmike Wynnsong 16 on Wednesday families streamed into the theater.
The Bernadoni family, a mixture of upstate New York and here in Albany, piled in with nine people.
“This is our fourth year of doing this,” Andrea Bernadoni said. ‘We’ve opened all the presents, nobody needs anything and this is a good time to spend with the family. We’re going to see 'Grudge Match' because I like Robert De Niro, plus it’s a light movie and we all wanted something to laugh at.”
The Mike Daugherty family of Albany was headed to see “Frozen.” Three of the four family members had already seen the movie, but acquiesced to the wishes of his daughter Kaitlin, who is a fan of Disney movies.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” Daughtery said. “After opening presents it provides a nice break gives us an opportunity to spend some more time together as a family.”
Darina Banks of Albany and her family of four was waiting to see “A Medea Christmas.”
“We’ve being doing a Christmas Day movie for the past five or six years,” she said. “We really didn’t know what we wanted to see, but knew we wanted to see a Christmas movie. We do it really because we just want to spend some more time together.”
Carmike Assistant Manager Jacob Reynold said Christmas Day is always busy for the theater industry.
“It’s definitely more busy for us than a normal day,” he said. “People are off of work, they are with family and want to spend time together. Other than that, I really can’t say much more.”
But the movie trips weren’t all about family time, friends count too.
“We are four couples here,” said Marilyn McClellan, “We are all friends who decided to get together and see “Grudge Match” because we wanted to laugh and see something light-hearted.”
Not everyone, however, was in total agreement with the group movie selection.
The Leroy Johnson family of Leesburg — Johnson, his wife Regina and two daughters — had just purchased tickets to see “A Madea Christmas.”
“This is a family tradition with us,” Regina Johnson said. “We’re going to see Madea because it would fit in with everybody.
Leroy, however, chimed in saying, “Personally, I wanted to see '47 Ronin' because I like to see stuff blow up. But I got outvoted.”
Susan Logan of Albany and her husband and two daughters were waiting to see “Saving Mr. Banks.”
“We never did this when I was little, but I think it’s great,” she said. “But with our daughters here I can see this might become a family tradition with us.”
Industry analysts say they expect the same phenomenon to occur, but not to the same extent as Christmas, next week over the New Year’s holiday.