First: North Branch MN, outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, to the north about an hour. It's rural. Instant service at the counter. They ran the soda fountain behind the counter, which was in tune. The popcorn was great. Theater was clean. Floor not sticky. Movie was fun to watch with the 10 other people in the theater. Good sound and video.
Second: White Marsh, MD, within Baltimore County and about 10 minutes from the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Had to wait 12 minutes for tickets because of a line. No explanation for the line. Then, skipped the popcorn because there was a 20-25 min line for that. This particular theater has a rewards program, meaning that one of the popcorn lines is reserved for people who pay an extra fee. Came out a half hour into the picture (chick flick, wasn't for me, so I found the trip out more interesting than listening to the movie) and still waited 5 mins for popcorn. Stale. Got a drink too, but had to dispense it myself. Drink machines were all sticky and semi-functional - some of those new Coke machines that are supposed to be so great - but are always out of service for one reason or another. Once in the movie, floor was sticky. About 15 people in the theater this time, more or less. Other patrons had BO and were leaning so far back in their seats it was hitting my knees, so I had to move. People talking during the movie - seems to be an ethnic thing in Baltimore, talking over the movie. Unpleasant theater experience overall.
#2 is more like my other recent experiences than #1. Makes a great argument for home theater. Sorry, Cameron.