Late yesterday at CinemaCon, a panel on texting in movie theaters sparked debate among theater chains and moviegoers. Proponents like Imax’s Greg Foster want to consider allowing texting during movies, as if more teens will buy movie tickets if only they’re allowed to use their phones during the movie. Moviegoers already lament how often someone’s little 3-inch light illuminates when they’re trying to concentrate on the movie screen.
Texting isn’t even the worst habit of moviegoers. We’re not defending it, and we hope it never becomes policy that movie theaters encourage texting. We do, however, have some other moviegoing gripes we’d like you to consider. If texting bothers you, please be vigilant in helping us correct the following bad moviegoing behaviors too!
10) Cell phones ringing – Okay, we all forget to turn our phones to silent sometimes, but you can also turn off a surprise call within one ring. If you’re fumbling around and fidgeting while your Ke$ha ringtone plays, you’re out. Sure, parents need to be reachable for their kids, doctors may be on call, so perhaps you could volunteer to sit in the back row or an aisle so you can slip out undetected for an emergency call.
9) Eating – There’s not much we can do about this. Theaters depend on popcorn sales to stay in business, and theaters that provide quality food are a welcome luxury. Apparently, lots of moviegoers never had parents to teach them to chew with their mouth closed. Slobbering, swishing, and crunching is loud enough to drown out even the latest Michael Bay movie. Some people even eat the ice in their drinks which is just pointless noisemaking. So enjoy your snack, but please don’t let us hear about it.
8) Blowing your nose – Somehow blowing your nose is a bodily function that society accepts in public. It makes a loud honking noise, it’s expelling fluid from your insides, and it should be considered bathroom business. If you have to blow your nose, please excuse yourself from the theater.
7) Stumbling through the aisles – We know theater aisles are pretty tight. They don’t leave much room for wiggling out, but there’s got to be a better way than knocking into our knees and stepping on purses. Most people are actually willing to stand up for a second to let you out, so certainly wait for them before kicking your way through.
6) Restless Leg Syndrome – Maybe I’m old, but I’ve become acutely aware of how many people can’t sit still without shaking their leg. And they always seem to sit next to me. Guys (and it’s always men), the seats next to you still feel the vibrations your leg creates. Seating technology is not yet so advanced that it can absorb the jitters, so please just hold still.
5) Sitting directly in front of you – Now we know something the theater is full and you have to take the only seat left. Usually, with multiple screens per cinema, there is a comfortable amount of room in a given showing. If an entire row is empty, don’t sit right in front of someone who got there first. Some theaters have assigned seating, so that takes the guesswork out, but it’s the luck of the draw since the seating chart can’t do height checks. Hats, mohawks and other head issues also need to be curbed.
4) Kicking the seat/feet on the seat – Sure, you like to get comfortable, maybe stretch out and relax. You’ve got to respect personal space though. If someone’s sitting in front of you, no feet on the seat. Really, no feet on the seat anyway. People have to sit there later and we don’t know where your shoes have been. Likewise be careful resting your feet against the seat in front of you. There’s a lot of give and it feels like a high pressured kick to the lumbar.
3) Infants – Okay, you can’t get a babysitter and you just need a night out. Bringing the little one to a movie is never going to end well. Even the quietest Terrence Malick film will have a moment or two of loudness that may wake the baby. And let’s face it, these people aren’t going to see The Tree of Life. It’s probably The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises. If a babysitter is not an option, maybe take turns. Dad stays with the baby while mom goes to the movie, and vice versa.
2) B.O. – There’s no delicate way to put this: Some people just leave the house gross. You’re stuck in a 300+ seat room for two hours -- do you want the people up front to smell you? Short of instituting smell checks at the door, we’ll have to appeal to personal hygiene on this one.
1) Talking – This is the big one and there are two main forms of it. There’s talking amongst yourselves as if you’re the only group in the theater, and talking AT the screen as if you’re providing a running commentary. Movies are a communal experience. You should enjoy them with the crowd, laugh when it’s funny, shriek when it’s scary. It is not a private conversation though. Alamo Drafthouse will actually eject you for talking during a movie (with a warning first). This is a policy that should expand to the multi-plexes.