Proper Movie Theater Etiquette

Written by Dylan Deppe. Media by Joey Unger.

I love going to the movies. Shocker, I know, right? Joking aside, what I really love about it, besides watching the movie, is sitting in a dark room, taking a break from any troubles, and seeing the hard work that thousands of people put into a project.

But you know what I don’t like? Bad theater etiquette. From texting, talking, walking around, and even snoring, some audience members just need to learn some basic manners.

I know we can’t live without our smartphones anymore. But, please, just don’t text or call anybody. Emergencies happen, so if one presents itself to you on the phone while you are watching a movie and you decide to leave, that’s fine; no harm, no foul. But texting your grandma or anybody else is not cool.

Photo by Jon Friedman

Theaters may or may not be overly opposed to texting in the future.  Brent Lang of Variety interviewed then newly-minted AMC CEO Adam Aron back in April 2016 on the matter. When asked about if he was open to theater texting, Aron said, “Yes. When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off their phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow.” Aron also said, “We [may] take specific auditoriums and make them more texting-friendly.” That last statement makes for an interesting proposition, but I can’t really get behind texting in the theater, or any public figures who even come close to flirting with the idea, in any form.  If it’s that big of a deal, just go outside.

Talking is a bit more of a different issue. Audio student Ben Casey and I had a discussion about the benefits of seeing films in a group. On the matter, he said, “Sometimes people talking makes a movie better. My friends and I used to watch trash movies in theaters where we knew people would talk a lot during the movie, and the communal call and response can make for a unique viewing experience.”

I agree that a crowd interacting with a movie can be interesting. But, it depends on the movie. Rose Moore of Screen Rant commented on the matter perfectly by saying, “Yes, we all know that pretty blonde cheerleader shouldn’t head into the basement of a haunted house, but don’t go shouting it out at the screen. She can’t hear you. Everybody else can.”

As a side note, I hate it when people constantly ask their friend, “Who’s that character,” “Why are they doing that,” “What’s going on?” For the first question, you probably have a smartphone you’re in love with, which would be more than happy to help you beforehand, and for the last two, just wait and listen.

Photo by Jon Friedman

Noise in general is a big problem. You might be surprised by the behavior some people use in a theater. Snoring, PDA, noisy snacks, and of course, talking on the phone are all pretty significant problems. I once saw a guy talking on the phone, walking around, and eating all at the same time. Moore points out, quite elegantly, again, “To these people, the 15 dollars they spent on a ticket entitles them to all manner of bad behavior,” while equating that they, “view a cinema as an extension of their living room.”

Littering is something else that’s pretty rude.  Sure, it’s the maintenance people’s jobs to keep the theater clean and presentable. But, if you and/or any friends are going to sneak in any number and style of snacks, it’s extra rude to just drop your trash on the floor expecting someone to pick it up.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve probably said it a thousand times: don’t be disruptive in the movie theater, and respect the humble theater that’s cool enough to get movies that you, as well as others, want to see. If you have a phone problem, treat it like a bathroom problem and just leave the room; it shouldn’t be that hard to understand. If it is hard to understand, just ask yourself if you would feel comfortable doing it at a funeral, and hopefully that gives you the right answer.





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