When Is the Right Time to Turn Your Phone Off at the Movies?

When Is the Right Time to Turn Your Phone Off at the Movies?

Sep 26, 2013

There's a lot of discussion these days about texting and other usage of smartphones at the movies. Most of us are dead set against it. There should be no noise, no lights and definitely no Facebook checking while others around you are trying to enjoy the show. But we tend to presume we're talking about etiquette during the feature presentation. What about the rest of the time we're in the auditorium? Nowadays there's preshow countdown programming and nonmovie ads and then the traditional trailer run, and the last of these at least used to be almost as sacred as the movie itself. 

Maybe the trailers aren't as important now that we all watch them on our computers, typically days before they arrive at the multiplex. Or maybe it's that we're in general so immersed in knowing what movies are coming out months to years from now that we just don't place as much importance on trailers as we used to. Regardless of why, it's become apparent that people are less and less shutting off their phones and shutting off their conversations during this part of the experience. Sometimes they don't even settle and quiet down during the feature's many studio logos or the opening credits if that's all that the movie begins with.

Today, Deadline reported that one company is looking into ways to get the audience to shut their phones off when the trailers begin. Of course, it's the ad-focused National CineMedia, which would obviously like us to be paying attention to all the commercials, whether for cars or movies, it puts in front of us. The company's people understand they can't win during the preshow, however, and are concentrating on the moment the lights go down and the first green MPAA rating screen hits the screen. The idea is to have the message to shut off your phones sent directly to our phones just as the trailers begin.

Whether that would work or not, I am curious today about when you all think is the right time for the phone to go off. And maybe also when it should come back on, as well. Is there anyone who gets upset when the end credits come on and a hundred little blue lights suddenly pop back up through the darkness? Personally, I'm admittedly guilty of caring more about Twitter during the trailers, even if I haven't seen them all (most are terrible anyway), and as soon as the movie ends (gotta tweet my reaction!)


At what point during the preshow does movie theater etiquette (phone off, mouths shut, etc.) begin?

Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:















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