Movie Theater Etiquette


In the last four months, I have seen more movies in theaters than I have in the last four years combined. At first, I thought my sudden resurgence into movie theaters was due to being able to go to movie screenings and the opportunity to see movies for free. After my last movie screening, though, I discovered the reason to be entirely different.

Simply put: the crowds at movie screenings are completely different than typical movie-goers. These are people who are excited to see a movie early, and they won’t do anything to possibly break the rules of the theater and get kicked out. Generally speaking, the people are more polite about their surroundings. Up until 2010, I was going to the theater to see a new movie at least one or two times a month. The year 2010 is when I really started to be swayed from going to movie theaters, not because it was a bad year for movies, but because it was when texting and talking–overall being obnoxious in theaters–was seen as ok. In my area, this was common and more often than not it took me out of the movie experience.

At movie screenings, they make you turn off your phones and if you are caught using one during a screening, you are kicked out. This is largely to prevent people from filming the movie since it’s not out to the public yet. It also guarantees that the person sitting three rows in front of you won’t suddenly illuminate the theater every two minutes to check his text message conversation with his friend.

People are more friendly during screenings as well. I haven’t been able to figure out if it’s just the general crowd that attends screenings or the fact that they don’t want to make a scene and possibly get kicked out. Maybe it’s because you have to have some inside knowledge as to how to get tickets to a lot of these movies or people don’t want to lose the tickets they won in a contest over something stupid. I know  most of the screenings around me are run by the same people who monitor who is comes. If you make a fuss about something and get kicked out, there is a good chance they will remember you the next time.

I came to this grand realization when someone got a call in the middle of the screening last screening I attended, of course with his phone not on mute, and then proceeded to ANSWER THE CALL. You might think that the security guard watching the room for suspicious activity would kick this person out. Sadly, though, the security offer was too busy, talking loudly  on his phone. Granted, this screening was not run by any of the people who normally run the screenings I go to, so this caught me off guard.

I don’t know how movie screenings are handled outside of the ones I attend, but this incident has made me respect the people who run the screenings in my area even more than before. Up until this point, I had gone to 11 different screenings which were run by the same people. They always kept a tight ship during movies, and I have seen them occasionally kick people out for one reason or another. They are the people making my movie going experience delightful, and after the last screening I went to, I remembered why I stopped going to movie theaters as often as I used to.

Movie theaters are constantly complaining about how their profits are being lowered every year. I’m curious how traffic would change for theaters where you are required to either leave your phone in your car or have it turned off during the movie. I know some theaters, such as the Alamo Drafthouse, have had this policy for awhile, but I would like to see more theaters implement this especially since I don’t have an Alamo Drafthouse within close driving distance.