Movie Theater Etiquette: R.I.P.

movie theaters, classic movies, old moviesOn a quiet Tuesday night, in a beautifully restored “art” theater in the Philadelphia suburbs, I went to see a screening of Terry Gilliam’s 1995 science fiction film 12 Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe.

I was not the only one sitting in that art deco treasure of a movie house, wanting to take a second look at this complex, challenging film on the big screen. There was an audience of 50 or so others who paid their $9.50 for the privilege, even though it was readily available for $2.99 on demand or reasonably for sale or rent on DVD or Blu-ray.

It was a good thing that people still wanted to see “old” films in the theaters, and they would go out of the way to do so, I thought. In fact, this particular theater had done quite well in the past, showing Laurel and Hardy movies, Three Stooges shorts, Hitchcock classics and past summer blockbusters like Jaws and Aliens.

The composition of the audience was a generally well-balanced group of college-aged kids, young professionals, middle-aged couples, thirtysomethings and a few senior citizens.

Shortly after I nestled into my comfy seat, next to two co-workers also attending the screening, the film started. A loud rustling of a plastic bag behind me became an intermittent annoyance throughout the film, as well as the occasional tapping of feet at the back of my chair.  It was coming from two women sitting behind me. No talking, thankfully, but acts still equally verboten in movie theaters.

In addition to these aggravations were the glaring cell displays from people texting during the film. These were not as consistent, but certainly enough to divert my attention away from the screen nonetheless.

These people obviously wanted to see 12 Monkeys on the big screen, just as my friends and I did. So why were they doing this? Along with pre-film, on-screen slideshow reminders to turn off cell phones and avoid texting, several signs posted throughout the theater reminded people of proper theater etiquette. My disappointment was obviously compounded by the fact that, if you can’t watch a film in peace at 7:30 on a rainy Tuesday night in this theater, with this audience, then when and where can you?

Um, how about at a critic’s screening? I had been lucky enough to attend these from time to time in order to prepare for people coming to town for interviews. Over the last two weeks, I went to see an early showing of My Week with Marilyn so I could interview Simon Curtis, the film’s director.

The screening was taking place at 1 pm in the afternoon. Perfect, I thought. No zoo-like atmosphere, like those you can encounter at the nighttime screenings. I often avoid nighttime press screenings these days. Usually they are sponsored by local radio stations that give away tickets and branded tchotchkes to contest winners. In most cases, the recipients don’t care what movie they are seeing—they care that the movie is free. Rudeness often abounds in such situations.

So a morning or afternoon “critic’s screening” is one to relish. On this day, however, My Week with Marilyn seemed like My Year with Marilyn. But this certainly had nothing to do with the movie, which I found charming, well-acted and compelling.

In theaters with stadium seating, I try to avoid sitting in the stadium seats. I tend to sit down closer to the screen, just so I don’t have to be near people. This may seem anti-social, but the risk of being bothered is higher in the stadium-styled seats.

The movie began, and within minutes, a man wearing a baseball cap crept into the theater and took a seat in front of me. Within a few minutes more, his phone was out and he was going to town on the keyboard, the face of his cell bounding like a strobe in front of me. Now what? He subsequently put the phone down and there was peace in the world—for five minutes, until he flipped the sucker out again and began to type away like one of those secretaries in a 1950s movie set in a chaotic Manhattan office.

The practice took me out of a movie I was enjoying. I gave his seat a swift kick, hoping he would get a hint. He did, turning around in response to my not-so-kneejerk reaction—for about ten minutes. Then it was back to texting.

Egad. Recognizing it was time to make a move, I scanned the theater. Down my empty aisle I would go, sitting a row and a few seats in front of two young women who appeared enthralled with the film. Within seconds, I heard whispering—loud, disruptive whispering—followed by giggling. Surely, two young women sent to cover a film at a 1 pm screening couldn’t be conversing, could they?  They stopped, then started. Then stopped. And started again. I turned around and shushed them. They stopped. And started. Again. I glared. I glared and shushed louder—but not, I had hoped, loud enough to annoy the other people in the audience.

I tried to desperately to keep my attention pinned to the screen, saying to myself, “At least this isn’t as bad as the serial texter with the arc light in his hand.”  But their idle chit-chat and girly giggling drowned  out my rationalization.

Then—as if someone heard me from above—it got quiet. Over my left shoulder I glanced, to see that their seats were vacant. How do you spell relief? E-M-P-T-Y S-E-A-T-S. Ding-dong, they were gone.

Or so I thought. I connected back into My Week with Marilyn, mesmerized by Michelle Williams’ tour de force performance as Monroe, Kenneth Branagh’s turn as the flustered Laurence Olivier and Eddie Raymayne’s work as the likeable Colin Clark, the assistant director who befriends the trouble blonde sexpot. Perhaps it was the sudden serenity of the movie theater that added to my enjoyment of the film? Certainly, that played a part in my experience.

Then…Theyyyy’re back! The chattering began after barely twenty minutes of short-lived nirvana. And we’re not talking Kurt Cobain here. I turned around and took note of their young age. I surmised these were obviously college students, assigned to cover the movie for their school newspaper. Then I let out a big, obnoxious “shooooosh.” Damn them and damn the other people in attendance. The two looked at each other like “How dare he.” Then they snickered and chatted some more. Hey, Chatty Cathys, clip those strings!  Was I on some newfangled version of Candid Camera, I wondered?

The movie ended. Down the aisle, I noticed that the Textmaster General was gone, flew the coop.

Behind me, the two girls remained, still deep in conversation. I took inventory of what really happened with them. Let’s see:

  1. They come to a critic’s screening of a movie.
  2. They talk and laugh through the first ½ of the film.
  3. They leave for about 1/5th of the film.
  4. They return and talk some more.

Was I being overly sensitive about their behavior? Is it acceptable for people to act this way at the movie theater these days, even for a critic’s screening with maybe 20 people in the whole auditorium? Should I have joined them in their discussion and laughing, and the hell with everyone else?

As I exited the theater, a publicist asked me what I thought of the movie.

“Good movie…” I noted, as the flack scribbled down my response, “…but bad movie experience.”

The concerned PR pro looked upset. “What do you mean? Can you tell me?”

Quickly, I reiterated the sad tale of The Texter and the Yentas.

Two other members of the press corps backed me up, reporting that there was a lot of text messaging going on with the two cub reporters. I didn’t even see that go on, as I was seated in front of them. Turns out that my hunch was right—they were covering the film for their college newspaper. As for the Text Man, he was like a phantom in the night. Nobody saw him come in, nobody saw him leave. Weird. Really weird.

As the two loquacious ladies left the darkened theater to the light of the lobby, they were confronted by the public relations ace.

They were both told that texting and talking were no-nos at a press screening. “But we’re press,” one of them responded.

“Well, everyone here is press at the press screening,” the PR person responded.

The reporters smiled and giggled, then walked into the sunshine leaving me in the theater lobby, wondering.

  • Dave Stewart

    Here’s the thing – Those of us who want to experience a movie in a relatively quiet theatre with a relatively appreciative audience end up looking like the freaks. And for the love of god, if you’re going out to chat, eat or text, why go to a movie??? The rest of us want to leave the outside world behind for 90 minutes or so, and the texters, chatters and noisy eaters are all part of that world from which we want to escape. And on a bigger scale, the way people act in a theatre reflects their general attitude towards others, unfortunately.

    • Tom K.

      @ David Stewart: Have the Manager THROW the BUMS OUT – EVERY TIME ! If the manager will not, contact their boss / distributor / parent company, etc. END Urban Terrorist activity at YOUR movie theater.

  • Trisha Johnston

    Thank you. Why do people go to a movie theatre, if they do not want to quietly watch the movie? One night my husband nicely asked a little boy to stop pointing his lazer light at the screen. The boy stopped, but after the movie the mother yelled at my husband for “scaring” her son!

    • Tom K.

      @ Trisha Johnston : Your husband did the right thing. The little boy’s Mom will be visiting him in prison one day, but then it will be too late. Please continue to point out and discourage Rude Behavior and THAT goes for Everyone !

  • Allen Hefner

    My pet peeve with movie theaters these days is watching the credits. Yes, I enjoy reading the credits. Those people worked long and hard to make a movie and they deserve to have their names on the big screen. I may also want to read who performed a particular piece of music or check out the shooting locations, and all of those details are usually at the end of the credits.

    But, as soon as THE END appears on screen, the lights come up, everyone runs out, and they start sweeping up the popcorn. Talk about distractions!

    Maybe a big screen home theater is a good investment. I must talk with my wife!

    • TampaGirl

      I am fortunate that I live just a few miles from a drive-in theater. I can enjoy the movie without distractions, I can bring my own snacks, and can even watch in my pjs if I want.
      But, a big screen home theater is on my “to do” list, as soon as I get the money.

      • Bruce Reber

        There are ACTUALLY drive-in theaters still around?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1063274681 Irv Slifkin

    Re: Credits
    On several occassions, the last five minute sof a film was disprupted by the ushers tlaking to themselves and the cleaning crew moving trashcans and whatnot towards the entrance of the auditorium. and these are the “authorities” repsonsible for keeping the audience well behaved!

  • tangomann

    People behaving as if they are watching a film at home — in addition to talking out loud and rattling paper and plastic, we now have all the electronic gadgets which most of the public can’t seem to do without, even for two hours. At current ticket prices, I have ceased going to theaters and wait to see them at home — streaming or on DVD. And I understand that alcoholic drinks are also now available!

  • Allen Hefner

    I haven’t been to one of the Movie Taverns, but they did just open one in Collegeville, PA. Have you been there yet, Irv? I understand you can order food and drinks right from your seat. I wonder how strict they are about carding the patrons.

    Next they will be offering WiFi so you can surf the web while watching the movie.

    We went to a theater about two years ago and after the first half hour, some kid pulled a fire alarm. All 24 auditoriums were evacuated. I went to the manager and got a full refund after the fire trucks left.

    I’ll stay at home with a nice bottle of wine.

  • Jerseyjoe

    I’m disabled and can not sit through a movie so I must stay at home. In 2006 when this started to happen to me I was upset. I would have to wait to see the new films at home. But over the years I’ve purchased a very large plasma TV and I have “on demaned” etc… and I am one happy person. I might have to wait a while but it sure sounds worth it!!

  • Susan

    We go to very few movies in public theaters. Frankly, I’ve scared my family companions, because my outrage elevates so quickly after incurring so much abuse. When I’m trying to watch a movie, I want peace and SILENCE. Living in LA one can’t help but know movie professionals. My brother is a retired grip. My sister-in-law is a hair stylist, and from a family of movie production journey people. They are wonderfully proud of their contributions to some outstanding films. I have lost my patience with rudeness in movie theaters. My husband and son rushed me out of a theater on our last visit. I got so mad at a couple of texters/talkers I threatened that if something wasn’t done quickly, I was GOING TO TAKE HOSTAGES IN THE LOBBY!! I now watch most movies twice at home. Once with my chatty family in primetime hours, then again in the middle of the night. Yes, I’ve become overly emotional and too sensitive about rude interruptions. BUT I haven’t scared anyone lately. It’s a kind of shame that they won’t go to movies with me, I might have made a difference. Hey Irv, want to see anything? I’m available.

    • Tom K.

      @ Susan: As I posted before:
      Thank You for Standing UP ! Can I grab my Louisville Slugger and take you to the movies sometime ? You can just point out the deserving ” targets “. We’ll laugh all the way to the Emergency Room !

      • StClown

        You are a disturbed man.

  • Grand Old Movies

    I myself, and several other people I know, have stopped going to movie theaters to see new releases – they wait until they’re come out on DVD – and we all have the same reason. You can’t sit and quietly watch a movie in a theater nowadays. I’ve sat through showings where people are not only texting but are chatting on their cell phones, and no amount of ‘shushing’ will get them to stop. Somehow the concept of boundaries between public and private space has disappeared, and people treat movie-going like a night at home (I’ve also been at live theater performances where people text or let their cell phones ring). If anything kills cinema-going as we’ve known it, it won’t be the movies, it will be the audiences.

    • Tom K.

      @ Grand Old Movies: Just continue to allow rude behavior and it will increase. You can just give up OR you can INSIST that the manager throw the RUDES Out ! Come On People – stop being victimized by Urban Terrorists !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1063274681 Irv Slifkin

    re: TAVEFRN THEATERS

    I have not gone nor do I want to. I know soemone who did and said it was an awful experience. Ordering during the film and servers brining food while the gilm is showing. I can’t imagine anything more annoying–aside from talking and texting of course.

  • Don Malvasi

    The surge in during-the-film texting has especially escalated lately. Forced to attend the mixed press and public night screenings since I worlk 9 – 5, I always thought I was missing something in terms of peace and quiet skipping the more intimate press-only day screenings. Little did I know they, too, haven’t been spared the senselessness….I used to let my Italian temper rise to a boil and speak out against yappers and texters but I guess age is mellowing me. You never know how nuts a counter response might be these days.

  • Susan

    If you mean me, you’re right. I know in my previous note that because my husband and son carted me out of that theater when I threatened to take hostages, I was behaving in the extreme. But it was fun to see the expressions on the faces of those texting talkers. For a millisecond they showed concern. I can only hope it was for their safety, although it was likely pity for my companions. Too bad, they laughed all the way home, and so did I.

    • Tom K.

      @ Susan : Thank You for Standing UP ! Can I grab my Louisville Slugger and take you to the movies sometime ? You can just point out the deserving ” targets “. We’ll laugh all the way to the Emergency Room !

  • Don Malvasi

    No, Susan, wasn’t talking about you but rather my own peevishness in no longer having your kind of courage (?) to wail on impolite transgressors like I once did. Too many guns and knives rear their ugly heads in a city like ours just when you aren’t expecting them. Instead I just sulk at a world gone to seed and fantasize how many diffferent ways I’d break their necks in a better world.

    • Tom K.

      @ Don Malvasi: The situation you’ve described has ” DE-volved ” from loud talking -to- texting – to – feet on the back of your seat, etc. If we just let Rude Behavior GO, it will just get worse. I wish ” Don ” had listed his City so we could avoid it at all cost.

  • Tom

    Why even bother going to a theater?

  • Warren Gumeson

    Hearing loss keeps me out of theaters, and I judge that’s not such a bad thing, given what I have read here. But does anyone else remember a novelty song from the 40s or 50s with the chorus “Rattle rattle rattle, popcorn sack”?

  • Curt

    Welcome to modern America, where the culture is low and the noise level is high. I work at a small college and I can’t tell you how many times I’m walking down a path and a young girl, nose and eyes glued to whatever gadget she happens to be texting on, nearly collides with me until I call out “We’re gonna crash!” Or a young boy comes within inches of me on his bike or skateboard. And it’s by no means just the young, Americans of all ages have become inconsiderate and self-absorbed. As for movies, I don’t go to them anymore, I’ve just given up. Listen to me. There’s a song by veteran rocker Ian Hunter that sums up the place that I’ve arrived. “I Am What I Hated When I Was Young.” It’s come to this.

  • Classic Movie Lover

    I gave up on movie theaters when I went to see Cape Fear (Robert DeNiro version) The people that sat in front of my sister and me were worse than Max Cady!

    Therefore, I just wait 4 to 6 months for the movie to come out on DVD and I can watch the movie in peace.

    Recently, I invested in a 55″ LED Smart TV and a top of the line Blu-ray player and surround sound system. I am in heaven on movie nights.

    Popcorn, chocolate raisins, soda and me make for a blissful movie night for thee. :-)

    Note that I have found out that some movies are being released via streaming the same day that it is released in the theaters.

  • Larry Cole

    The texting is new, but the noise is not. I remember sitting in a crying room, remember those places that people with their babies could watch a movie without annoying people with their crying babies? Anyway I decided to check out the crying room when the noise in the theater was getting so bad. Guess what? No babies. It was quiet. I decided that was a better place to watch a movie quietly.

  • Marcb

    Amen to this article. When my wife & I go to a movie we even sit a seat apart so one doesn’t bump the others arm by accident and bring you back to reality. Where’s Miss Manners when we need her?

  • Pat King

    I too have eschewed going to the theater. When ticket prices rose above the cost of a meal I quit going. Then came one I wanted to see in a theater setting. There were a number of kids there and the noise was unbelievable. Add that to the little moron with his feet on the back of my seat kicking and visibly moving my back. He was imperious to evil eye stares. I moved but the din was still insufferable. Never again! The DVD in my home is for me. Sadly, the human race has no respect or manners now. Rude & crude is the order of the day. :(

    • Tom K.

      @ Pat King: You turn around, grab the rude little snot’s ankles and yank upwards, which should up-end this jerk and place their face on the UCKY Theater floor. THEN you might want to leave. You can laugh all the way home.

  • Chuck Millstein

    Too true. And as I get older, the ability to “Pause” the film and hit the john at MY convenience almost makes up for losing the “surround” experience- especially when the smallest soda size is measured by the gallon- and you can’t really have the whole movie experience without the giant pop-corn. It’s like going to a real ball game and not getting a hot dog.

  • Fred buschbaum

    I agree with all the above…. With age, I patiently wait until a great flick is available in store or on pay per view. However, some of the new 3-D flicks need to be seen on the big screen. Luckily, I live in a “small” town area, Where Weekday afternoons We can usually sit in peace and quiet at a mall theater with a scant dozen others and watch a film without desterbances. I pity those of us where this is not possible. Most of my favorites are so old, we’ll never see them on tv, or satillite anymore. Perhaps, when there are enough quality 3-D films out there we’ll get a 3-D Tv……..

  • Groover

    What this essay’s writer bemoans is not the loss of being able to watch a film in peace but the fact that the rich experience of going to a movie theater is gone, possibly forever. There was a time, some of us can recollect, when attending a movie was a special treat for which people often reserved seats in advance, dressed up and behaved respectfully of one another. That time has fallen by the wayside; movies are now mostly abominable, audiences are made up of rowdy malodorous clods in flip flops and ushers aren’t equipped to perform the duties of animal trainers. For those of us who can’t bear to sit among what Trevanian terms “The Wad” in order to enjoy films there’s really only one solution: a big screen TV, dvd’s or streaming movies and a comfortable sofa at home. When one cannot change society he must alter his own expectations.

    • Tom K.

      @ Groover: Well then, the Urban Terrorists have WON ! Do Not Allow Rude Behavior ! Have the Manager throw the BUMS OUT, or leave and demand a refund.

  • Gord Jackson

    As a retired theatre manager, I can totally empathize with all. Yes, with young audiences there has always been a certain amount of noise, especially on Friday nights when going to the movies was the meet-and-greet social event of the week for many. But the endless chatter in so-called ‘adult’ audiences, never mind the texting and cell-phone stuff is too much. I won’t go at night as I much prefer a Monday afternoon if I can swing it because I know Monday afternoons are the slowest times of the week. But even then, there are occasions when…

    Unfortunately, the seeds of today’s mess were probably first planted with the advent of commercial television. Yes, I am talking about those dreaded ‘commercials’ during which we talk, go to the bathroom, the frig, whatever. Still, we watched tv at home with family, all of whom were doing the same thing, including the passing of remarks about how good or bad the program was, the clothes so-and-so was wearing, etc. In time of course, television viewing was no longer an extension of the movie theatre – the reverse had come into being – the movie theatre was the extension of television viewing. And yes, the theatre owners must take their share of the blame for it because going to a theatre is no longer a relaxing experience. We have commercials for this, promos for that, endless loud, mostly ‘blow ‘em up real good’ trailers – in short, the so-called ‘movie going experience’ is now nothing more than a Barnum and Bailey three-ring circus complete with over-priced junk food and a huckstering midway. Indeed, with the advent of ‘plexes’, theatres are now mostly theme parks that also happen to show movies.

    Yes, I occasionally still go, but my attendance is rare as I prefer to stay at home and watch something in peace and quiet and not have to deal with the rude, arrogant, obtuse, obnoxious behaviour of those so in love with the ‘almighty me’ that no one else counts. Indeed, the yappers can’t even shut up in places of worship, which to me pretty much says it all.

    • Paul Adair

      YUP ! And overpriced food and booze hucksters have replaced ushers.
      To top that off, I value my hearing. AND I CAN GO FREE, and don’t !

  • Gord Jackson

    An addendum – Groover makes a very good point about going to the movies once being a special experience. People did dress up, sometimes tickets were reserved, and the staff in theatres looked pretty spiffy in their freshly pressed shirts, box-ties, jackets, pants and shined shoes. Managers were required to be ‘out on the floor’ in shirt and tie (or company blazer) and the company I worked for insisted that we wear a tuxedo on the weekends. Now, everyone, managers, cashiers, floor staf, are in gawd-awful t-shirts, jeans, baggy pants and suffed (if not running) shoes. The days of ‘class’ are over and let’s face it, if the theatre owners don’t give a toss about their image, if they want their staffs to blend in with Joe and Joan teenager, then why should their audiences care either? It’s all just a little too casual by half.

  • Kenneth Morgan

    Personally, I don’t want complete silence when I see a movie in a theater. If a scene is funny, I’ll laugh. If there’s a sudden scare, I’ll gasp. If the movie’s good at the end, I’ll applaud. One of my favorite movie experiences was watching “Return of the Jedi”, when the whole audience cheered Vader tossing the Emperor.

    That said, I agree that there’s a difference between good theater noise and bad. Texting or nattering in a theater is certainly bad and distracts others. That sort of activity is disrespectful and shouldn’t happen. That said, I wouldn’t pop my cork over it.

    Hey, even the cast of MST3K have said that that sort of chatter in a theater isn’t right.

  • M. L. Wirick

    When I was younger, ushers told you to be quiet. After a certain amount of warnings, if you weren’t quite, you were asked to leave. They don’t do this anymore. They don’t dress up for church or flying nowdays either.

  • William Sommerwerck

    You need to stand at the front of the auditorium, and in a loud voice announce that if the audience doesn’t stop talking, texting, etc, you will ruin their “pleasure” (such as it is), as they are ruining yours.

    You might consider carrying an air horn into the theater, should it be needed.

    • Tom K.

      @ William Sommerwerck: In the Southern United States, if someone stood in front of the screen and loudly said ” ruin their pleasure “, no one would know what was expected of them. BUT if you louldy said; ” sit down – shut up – turn off your phone or I’ll Whup Your AZZ “, everyone would understand. Plus, you better be able to back up your words. You might be delightfully surprised that 90% of the movie-goers would applaud and back YOU UP !

  • Chuck Rodriguez

    When I was a kid I used to live a block away from a theatre that had one screen and charged $1.00. Walking to the theatre every weekend with my mom was something I always looked forward to and eventually fueled my current love of the theatre experience and movies in general.

    This article hits the nail right on the head with the lack of proper theatre etiquette and proper respect for fellow movie-goers in today’s society. I, like many, have a home-theatre but nothing can compare to seeing a film on the big screen. There is something magical about that experience that gets lost in the soft glow of cell-phone lights and the obnoxious chatter of people who never learned what their “inside-voice” was.

    I agree with Kenneth that I don’t want complete silence at a movie. If a movie is good, there are times when certain noise is exceptable. Loud appluse, infectious laughter, terrified screams are all an excepted and welcome part of the movie-going experience. Having a conversation with the person next to you in a voice loud enough for the whole theatre to hear you, about something not even related to film you’re watching no less, is not. Nor is making loud noises or silly comments, that no one but you and your sophomoric buddies think is funny, acceptable behavior as well.

    I may come off as an old grump, but I have a deep love and appreciation of movies and the movie going experience. It is because of that love that I hate to see it tarnished for others like myself. One day, my son will be old enough to go to the movies with me, and I want him to enjoy the experience as much as I did when I went with his grandmother.

  • Brian Eckler

    I gave up going to theaters to see movies years ago. I’m perfectly happy waiting for the DVD to come out. Audience behaviour is certainly one of the reasons. The other thing that drove me out was the incredibly over driven sound systems. It finally reached a point where I wore the same earplugs I used on the shooting range to avoid hearing damage.

  • MARY

    I have been sitting in the back row for years. Thank goodness I can still climb the stairs. When the day comes that I can’t sit in the last row at the top, I guess I won’t be able to go to the theater.

  • Steve P

    You have clearly delineated exactly why I avoid going to theaters nowadays.

    If I really must see it on the big screen, I wait until near the end of the run and go very late. Or, I wait until it hits the 2nd run theater in town. Even then, there are idiots who seem to think they are in their own living room, or playpen, or whatever.

    Theater owners are bemoaning the loss of patronage. If they’d maintain a better atmosphere (and lower the prices of their munchies to an affordable level), they’d do much better.

  • Marjorie

    We all know why there’s no movie etiquette. No ushers. When I was a kid (the 80′s) every theater had two kids who did NOTHING but stand in the dark recesses of the theater and watch for kids sneaking in, being noisy, throwing popcorn, etc. But the bulk of the theaters turned into mutliplexes with a few big theaters and a bunch of puny ones and projectors that run on timers and moved all their staff to the concessions counter. With no one to police them and no one for polite movie-goers to appeal to when a gentle shh or “some of us are trying to watch a movie, here” can we really be surprised that society’s movie manners have been eroded?

    I also find it irritating that people attend plays in street clothes. Plays and films both rely on our ability to enter into that suspension of disbelief where we experience what we’re viewing as though its time, place and circumstances are our own. Watching some ya-hoo pick at the tattered remnants of their holey blue jeans all through the first act ruins that for me. I don;t mind enthusiasm for a film’s up and downs, but it has to be appropriate.

    The theaters charge us enough to see a film, but they’ve ceased to protect our right to get what we paid for (an enjoyable movie theater experience) so when people like Brian and I opt to take ourselves out of their client base then have no one to blame but themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.m.henderson Kenneth Henderson

    Without going into examples and other details, many of the negative aspects you have all spoken about, whether on the street, on a campus grounds or in a moviehouse all ring true in that other great English speaking country, Australia.

    Incidently, you nearly lost Obama recently. Our atheist lady Prime Minister latched on to him like he was God during his whirlwind visit. The press made hay with these antics. She does have a guy though and not married.

    • SnittyKitty

      Too bad she didn’t keep him…

  • Tom K.

    At a matinee for the newly released ” Night of the Living Dead ” some years ago there were two loudmouthed knuckleheads that would not be quiet. They were roundly shushed by the audience several times: they would not stop talking. Two large framed men got up, grabbed the rude talkers, escorted them to the fire exit and threw the louts outside. The audience applauded this smooth move and we all enjoyed the film, quietly. Let’s start an old trend, again !

  • Brad

    We have one of the “Movie Taverns” in Oklahoma City (The Warren Theater), and only the people in the balcony can order food and drinks (including alcohol) delivered to their seats, but everyone must be 21 to enter the balcony area. However, on the rare occasion that I’ve viewed movies from the balcony, I haven’t encountered this type of behavior as I have while viewing movies on the floor. I, too, have witnessed individuals texting, talking, and have had the back of my seat kicked several times. The sad fact is that people only think of themselves; common courtesy is not common anymore. For each of us to enjoy a film at a theater, we must endure the rude behavior of other people, and be treated with the “how dare you” attitude if we object. As much as it cost to see a movie in the theater now, it would nice to enjoy the experience. No wonder my wife and I have such a large collection of movies on disc.

  • jim

    I am in total sympathy with the various posts concerning this annoying problem. But face it, people: civilized society is coming slowly apart at the seams, and we who value such things as culture and decorum are just going to have to take it where we find it. Be thankful that DVDs, Blu-Ray, and streaming video have allowed us access to the full range of classic movies in our homes.

    • Tom K.

      @ jim: We can huddle in our homes with our DVD’s playing, but this Rude Behavior will only increase if it is not curtailed. Our children WILL go to the movie house, experience this uncivilized behavior and may think this is okay – which It Is NOT. This behavior is moving to restaurants, public parks, etc. You said, in part; ” . . we who value such things as culture and decorum are just going to take it where we find it. ” If this Uncivilized Rudeness continues, there will be NO Escape. Your symphony, opera and ballet will be NEXT and Then what ? Confront these RUDES – have the theater management throw these BUMS Out, EVERY TIME. There is No Excues for Rudeness.

  • celebkiriedhel

    I heartily agree with all the comments above and the article. I stopped going to movies a while ago.

    I just wish the cineplex owners and movie makers would read threads like these to understand how they are losing their business.

  • roy levering

    Blame this all on Home Video. People used to understand that being in a theater meant sitting there for two hours uninterrupted to enjoy a movie. Now folks are used to stopping the film, talking on the phone, getting something to eat, going to the bathroom, and commenting or talking during the movie because that is the home experience regardless of whether or not you have a screening room. People have just transferred that experience to the theater.

    There are some “good” theaters around where the experience isn’t that bad but they are few and far between. Those get a more adult crowd who remember what is was like to really watch a movie in a theater.

  • Colin

    Coming from Australia, we also experience this appalling lack of manners by fellow cinema goers and unfortunately we also have what is called “Gold Class” cinemas where you can purchase meals and drinks to be served during the screening at a time that suits you. This disruption is unbelievable as you have the movie soundtrack competing with the noise of clanking cutlery and plates and for this privilege we pay $25 to $30 plus the cost of the meal.
    Does anyone remember when you went to a movie then to dinner afterwards to discuss talk about the movie rather than during the screening.

  • Robert

    I live in the UK, and the “plexes” here don’t seem to be any different from those mentioned in these articles, in the USA. I remember a time when cinemas showed two films, with an interval and a newsreel, when usherettes came down the aisle just before the end of the film to serve an array of ice cream or Kia-Ora Suncrush orange drinks. These picture houses, no matter how large or small, all had curtains. I miss all that, and I care not who knows it! And what do you get today? One film, no interval, no newsreel, no usherettes and no curtains! In so far as value-for-money is concerned, today’s ticket prices and 1000s of times more expensive! For me, the cinema is a pleasant memory of yesteryear – not a pleasant experience today!

    • Tom K.

      @ Robert: Good show, Robert. Over on the west side of the ” pond ” we had everything you described, except the ice cream and Orange drinks – Wow ! There was the Newsreel – then some previews of coming movies – then a cartoon. Then the curtain would close, there would be a dramatic pause and as the opening music for the feature film began, the curtains would open, grandly ! Anyone disrupting the movie experience was removed from the theater !

  • Elsando

    I agree with all the comments. Try the Dollar Theater (really $1.50) on a Friday evening! Adults and kids drifting in and out looking for a movie that catches their attention. Makes me long for the days at the DRIVE IN MOVIE! Parked on the back row – who cared what was showing?

  • Alfie

    My family has never hesitated to go straight to the manager whenever a polite request is ignored.
    After being admonished by management, the offender usually stops bad behavior. In our experience, the complaint most often submitted is people “talking out loud at the screen, as if they’re sitting in front of their TVs at home.” Rude, crude, ignorant, and totally unacceptable to serious movie-goers. I pity the poor manager who doesn’t take care of our problems ….

  • mike mayo

    Irv,
    Here’s a completely depressing thought: About 30 years ago I wrote a newspaper piece about rude behavior in movie theaters. The texting is new but everything else could have come from your experience.

  • Jon DeCles

    I can remember the advent of television, when people still applauded at the end of shows. Of course, there were ten minutes less commercials, and the commercials were at the same volume as the shows. The ‘wisdom’ of television writing these days is that there must not, at any time in the program, be any vital plot information because somebody might have left the room to get a beer.
    Sometimes we show dramatic works, like Greek Tragedies, on our big screen. I have become obliged to give a speech at the beginning, explaining that the purpose of theater (and movies) is catharsis, and that one has to submerge one’s self in the show in order for that to happen: it is NOT Mystery Science Theater, and one is NOT supposed to sit there making rude comments or criticizing the performance while it is happening: that is for afterwards. Some people just don’t get invited back.
    I remember seeing “My Fair Lady” once, life, and the woman next to me singing along.
    There are good and legitimate reasons for murder, and such murders do, I am convinced, contribute to the elevation of the gene pool.

  • Susan W.

    Here’s a fond memory…My college age sister was home for Christmas break and took my younger brother and I to a “Late” 10pm showing of DUNE, a rare and special treat for us, at the Blue Ridge Cinema. While the lights were still up, we kept hearing a couple of boys beeping their (possibly new) digital watches. Low and behold, a “Dad” came from two rows back and grabbed their shoulders exclaiming, “Boys, I DON’T want to hear the watches!” Not a beep was heard for the rest of the night.

    Since 1984, when my siblings and I would attend the cinema together, my brother would always remind us before the show “I DON’T want to hear the watches!”

    • Bruce Reber

      Updating that demand – “I don’t wanna hear the I-phones!”

  • Ellie

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of the foregoing comments, as I have had similar/identical experiences myself. However, because of these comments, I have now come to realize that there ARE still some decent moviegoers left in the world. Too bad we can’t all go to the movies together. Then we could be sure of finally having an enjoyable experience!

  • Mike48128

    Unless it’s special, I view most films at home these days. The rustling of fat hungry pigs at the feed trough can ruin the atmosphere of any good movie, and I don’t mean just the sound of popcorn. being munched on.

  • Carolyn Ferrante

    OK, here’s a better story: when I was employed by Esquire Magazine in the late 1960s, I was privileged to go to a private screening of some movie in a local theater. In front of me were two very prominent, well-known movie critics, whose names I won’t mention. Not only were they chatting throughout the film (which they were supposed to critique), but they were passing a bottle of liquor between themselves. Such class!

  • Ken

    Ushers, remember ushers? you don’t see them anymore.

  • steve b

    WE NEVER GO TO THE MOVIES ANYMORE. WHY PAY $15 OR $20 TO SEE A MOVIE FEATURING SOME LIBERAL PIECE OF CRAP AMERICA-HATING “STAR” WHO THINKS HIS/HER POLITICAL OPINION IS IMPORTANT. IF WE REALLY WANT TO SEE A MOVIE WE WILL WAIT TILL IT’S ON A COMMERCIAL-FREE CHANNEL, COPY IT TO A DVD SO WE CAN WATCH IT WHENEVER WE WANT, AND THE “STAR”, AND THE COMPANY WHO HIRED HIM, GETS NOTHING FROM US. WE SAW MAYBE TWO MOVIES IN A THEATER IN THE PAST TWO YEARS.

  • C.J. Gelfand

    Many years ago (okay, so I’m dating myself) if anyone caused a disturbance in the movie house, an usher would come and promptly escort them out. We live in an age of selfishness, insensitivity to others, and every man for himself. This came about in the 1980s (guess who was president then) and persists today. Sadly, it’s going to take a major alteration of current values, and even sadder, that will take years.

    • Tom K.

      @ C.J. Gelfand: You are NOT going to blame infantile behavior at the movies on Ronald Reagan – an outstanding Gentleman ! Rude behavior came about in the ’60′s and it wasn’t even Lyndon Johnson’s fault, either. Blame the ” we can’t and won’t discipline our child ” parents, for a start. These RUDES are a direct reflection of their parents. One ” major alteration ” could be the Impeachment of the ” Liar-in-Chief !

      • Louis Martinez

        If Ronald Reagan was such a gentleman then why did he never acknowledge the AIDS epidemic? You Tom K. should see the movie “The Band Played On” There is your gentleman!!!!!!

      • Ole Man

        You can’t impeach Bush anymore because he’s out of office.

  • acfoxes

    I have had the same problem with shows- a number of years ago I had two women talk thru the entire performance of Les Mis. The age of respect is gone for the most part now.

  • Gary53

    That is what happens when cretins are allowed to breed.

  • Bill

    This is why I rarely go to a movie theatre anymore. I can’t tolerate the behavior of the audience. I also have an intense dislike of multiplexes. I feel like I’m in an airport terminal. For me, moviegoing used to be an almost religious experience. Sadly, those days are gone.

  • Wally

    That is why I buy movies etc from Movies Unlimited…..we watch when we want, how many times we want and so on………Out popcorn not $10 per 1/2 ounce……….pause to use the restroom…….no more going to the movies for us……..

  • VioletTexas

    Just one of many reasons I don’t go to theaters any more.

  • Tom K.

    They should be warned ONCE. If their texting, talking and other disruption continues, YOU and a couple of large guys should escore them out through the Fire Exit { Unless that would set off an alarm – and if so, then, kick ‘em out of the theater door. } Multi-plex Theaters need some Bar Bouncer sized Ushers that could be summoned the throw these ” RUDES ” out on their ear / No Ticket Refund ! With the price of a movie ticket, I want the movie and Not the disruptive Idiots. Come on America !

  • Maxi

    I find a very simple solution is to find a less popular theater and go to the matinee. Fortunately, there is a multiplex a 5 minute walk from my house (I love urban living) where I can see just about any movie I want for $5-6, even on opening weekend. There may be 5-10 people in the theater for the more popular movies, but sometimes we even have the house to ourselves. I was also advised by a friend to go for the kids meal, which has more than enough popcorn and soda for two normal humans to make it through a 2 hour movie, without the sticker shock or 10000 calories of the jumbo-sized and overpriced regular concessions. I have no idea why everyone feels compelled to only go to the movies on Friday and Saturday night, paying a premium so they can worry about getting in and dealing with hoardes of people intent on ruining the experience, but I am grateful for them, because they make my matinee experience all the more enjoyable.

  • cltplyr

    Great comments from many here and, of course, we agree. But there is hope!! I actually had a GREAT theater experience several months ago. Local movie house was showing “Singing In The Rain” for, I think, $12 or $15 a seat. While we could practically recite the dialogue in this film, this was our chance to see this classic on the BIG SCREEN!!! The theater was packed – really SOLD OUT. Throughout the entire film, you could hear a pin drop. Except, yes, there was laughing where there should be laughing. And applause at the end of the great dances. But no, absolutely NO, talking, texting, crying kids, nose blowing, or more than a rare sneeze. All in all, what a time! A movie the way it is SUPPOSED to be… enjoyed with an auditorium filled with others, all respecting each other’s right to enjoy the movie in its entirety. Maybe (YES!!!) our theaters need to show more of the REAL classics on the big screen for those of us who’ve never seen them that way…. After all, the theater SOLD OUT, yes???? Isn’t that the point for the owners??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Gablefan

      I have had the same experience with the summer movie series at the Ohio Theater here in Columbus. Every summer, the organization that runs several of the old movie palaces downtown shows about 20 classics (everything from “My Man Godfrey” to “Frenzy”, plus a silent with the old movie organ!). While most movies aren’t sold out, there’s usually a good crowd there that is there to see the movie and behaves. Haven’t heard a cellphone go off yet! The few times in the last 2 years I’ve seen a first-run movie in a regular multiplex, I was reminded of why I don’t go to them much anymore. Rude doesn’t even begin to describe most people these days.

      • cltplyr

        May have to try that, should I be in Columbus during the summer. My experience hails from Oklahoma City. ;-)

  • Tammy

    Rudeness is the new polite(NOT!) Good manners are sadly becoming an extinct beast. “It stifles individuality and inhibits personal freedom, to think about others” (sarcastic comment on PC rhetoric).
    Enjoying a film in a proper theater is a group activity, everyone gathers for the same purpose.There is a magic about the big screen, it enables us to become a part of the film.
    However, the average mentality today is, it’s all about my needs. Really!, that text or phone call can’t wait. If you want a conversation, go to a coffee shop, not a theater.

  • Charles M Lee

    When I went to see “Gravity”, like you I try to sit in an area that is not populated. I saw a group of people come into the theater and from their dress and mannerism I thought “oh boy here we go”, and I was right. They were sitting several rows behind me but I still could hear the buzz of their conversations. It was annoying. As soon had the movie started, with a view of the earth from space, I hear a very loud “well that’s awesome”. Then the shushing from some of her companions. Through out the entire movie there were minutes of silence and then the buzz, buzz, buzz. Their voices were low, but they didn’t seem to realize that in theater when ever one else is quiet their voices carry.

    As a retiree, for me the best time to see a movie has been early in the day. The prices is lower as it is considered to be a matinee. Also most people are at work and most kids are in school.

  • Christine Harrison

    I sympathise with your experiences in the cinema, and indeed with all the people who’ve written in to relate their examples of bad manners. I live in the UK, and can still remember going to the cinema in the 1960s – it was quite common then for a clip of film to be inserted at the end of the performance showing a military band playing “God Save The Queen” and the entire audience used to stand up as a mark of respect before exiting the auditorium. Can’t see that happening now ….

  • PROGGINBOB

    Being 62 years old, I remember going to a double feature on Saturday afternoons which included a “serial” between the two films. Possibly a newsreel as well. All this for “6″ Coke bottle caps!! Even then there were rude people, but not many, & they’d get put out of the theater quickly if they acted out. Most everyone there was excited to watch the films & if there was any noise it generally was exclaiming patrons & screams at frightening points in the film. I still go to about 2, maybe 3 movies a year at the theater. It has to be something I’m really wanting to see for me to endure all the ignorant nonsense that finds it’s way to be there around me. Say what you will about this, & I believe this to be true. When I was growing up, my dear sweet departed parents taught me & my siblings a little bit of class, & how you’re supposed to act in certain places. Like church, the library, movie theaters, concerts, restaurants, etc etc. A lot of these people acting the way they do is because of their “lack of” upbringing! OK, so what can be done? Movie theaters are not gonna pay ushers to try to calm a blabbing, texting moron. It’s too late to teach manners to an ignoramus. You know…(It’s impossible to teach a pig to sing…It wastes your time & annoys the pig)…same principal. So, I suppose my generation just has to take this lot of compost on the chin! So, I guess I’ll keep enduring it occasionally, but it truly is a shame. If I acted bad in church, I got my rump paddled when I got home. This was “NOT” child abuse, it was discipline…IT WORKED! If I had EVER acted like many kids do in restaurants I sometimes go to, my parents would have had me in therapy! But, there again, it’s the parent’s fault. “Lack of” upbringing. I can’t make myself believe all this has anything to do with some president we’ve had in the past. LOL! Get real! It’s not a political issue! It’s just ignorance breeding ignorance! You know…(The apple don’t fall far from the tree)…That sort of thing. And all this only gets worse & decays even more with each new generation! Yea! My kids are the last of a dying breed! I can only hope & pray my grandkids will be intelligent enough to want to adopt “some” of what’s left to them as far as manners, morals, & class is concerned! It doesn’t look too good for the future! Are we all gonna revert to a bunch of primates? Makes me wonder!

    • Bruce Reber

      From what I personally observe of so-called human behavior we’re well on the way! The prophecy of “Planet Of The Apes” may well come to pass!

  • Bill L.

    Very true. People are so addicted to their technology, they can’t be disconnected for even two hours. The theater I frequent most often mentions silencing cell phones 4 times before a movie starts. The last time is just before the feature begins, which is smart. I usually works but occassionally people ignore it or there are late comers to the movie. If it persists, I am as rude as they are and ask them to turn it off. Cinemark also as a Cinemode app that darkens the screen if people insist on having their “securty blankets” with them throughout the movie. What ever happened to just sucking their thumbs!

  • Donna Brinkoetter

    If enough people went to the manager and asked for their money back because these disruptions make it impossible to follow the film, maybe then they would do something about it. I was practically blinded at a showing of one of the Harry Potter films by a middleaged woman who texted thoroughout the entire movie.

  • tim kenneally

    I remember going to a theatre in a mixed neighborhood and seeing one of those “chucky”. movies it was a mostly black crowd and they carried on like they were in their own front room. not just the young; everyone was talking and this is before cell phones. and all thru the movie. rule of thumb; never go to a theatre with a black audience. it sure is a mess!

    • Nicolas

      Regarding your comments on black audiences, Spike Lee suggested once that this was a cultural thing with black audiences, that they would be interacting with the screen. Also a guy from St Croix that I knew told me that in his country this was how they reacted to a movie. Having however seen films today, I think that many black audiences today are more in tune with the general population, and are not like they might have once been. I have been seen what one could call predominantly black films, that would have black audiences and have not seen the behavior anymore that you mention, which I also once did. perhaps the funny theater scene in “Scary Movie” changed that behavior.

  • hdavid

    I haven’t been to a movie theater in years—and don’t intend going again—for this very reason. In addition to all the annoyances mentioned here, I’ve been in theaters where viewers leave their cell phones on and the ringing becomes a constant interruption. Then they often have their (loud) conversations right in their seats for all of us to hear! When I was lucky enough to be spared that particular ignorance, I’d be constantly distracted by people coughing and clearing their throats.
    At home I have control of the viewing experience; at theaters I’m at the mercy of the mob.

  • Nicolas

    My experiences in movie theaters have been quite different than most. I find people now are better in theaters than they used to be. Of course, I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area out to Solano/Napa County, but even when I have sometimes seen a movie back in the bay area, I still find people are better than they used to be. Also theaters are far cleaner now, as the double headers that I used to go to know longer seem to exist, and there is a longer break between each showing off a movie to clean up. But even now I think that theater audiences are more conscious of not leaving a mess.

  • AnthonyH

    In the “old days,” being out in public meant a certain amount of responsibility–you dressed a certain way, you acted a certain way, and being polite was part of that social responsibility. Unfortunately, the “do your own thing because it feels good” mentality has ruined that sense of responsibility. Now, when kids misbehave in restaurants, the parents are more likely to confront the other patrons than their own children. In movie theatres, patrons text and talk instead of respecting that other people are sharing the theatre. On airplanes, people ignore the reasonable requests of flight attendants and don’t care if they delay 200 other people. Frankly, we need more of the concept of responsibility and consideration and a lot less of the “self-esteem/me-me-me/do what feels good” concept.

  • John G

    I had worse than that. First to sit down, and 20 or so no more in the entire show, they sit down ehind me. The “olD” lady shook my seat trying to sit in her seat which caused me to turn around. I thought, “Let it go John its just an old lady. But, like you , I was victim to talking throughout the previews.
    I deceided to stand up and I mean stand up an munch on my popcorn when one of the women stated that they could not see. I explained that they didn’t need to see, that I paid to come and see and hear the movie and they came to talk.
    Manager summoned who asked me to contact management should I have a problem. I stated that I did not work the AMC and was not my job to police the movie theaters. The part ot the previews canme on warning that management would be close by and those disturbing others will be asked to leave. I turned to the two women, and without saying a word, pointed at the screen. This again prompted the manager to be summoned by them and not me. I was then told, IF ANOTHER COMPLAINT WAS RECEIVED I WOULD BE THE ONE ASKED TO LEAVE. I RESPONDED THAT YOU MIGHT AS WELL CALL THE POLICE AS WE NOW WOULD BE ON THE 6 O’CLOCK NEWS.
    I would think that AMC would like having me patronize them. (Oh yea I failed to memtioned that I am a retired Deputy Sheriff. This was all before the Shooting at Colorado. Bottom line, I have a NO Tresspass order sent certified mail against me. Have to leave the state if I wish to watch a movie.
    Whats your take

    • Bruce Reber

      Maybe you should organize a boycott of all the AMC theaters in your state. When those jackass managers start getting hit in the wallet because moviegoers refuse to patronize theaters where rude behavior is valued over people who paid their hard-earned bucks to watch a movie then maybe, just maybe they’ll get a clue and clean up their act! As for me, I stopped going to movie theaters years ago, not so much for the things you described, but the huge dropoff in motion picture quality-everything today is about moronic plots,foul language, loud noise and CGI. That’s why I’m staying with my DVD collection (I have a few movies on VHS also) and Turner Classic Movies. I can watch what I want anytime I like, without dealing with all the distractions the modern moviegoer must endure.

  • Jan

    The last time I paid to see a movie (12 bucks no less), the house was pretty full. Behind me there were the whisperers, to the side were the out of control kids, in front was some moron with some sort of electric game that made noise constantly. I complained a couple of times but it did no good. From now on I will just wait until it comes out on DVD.

  • Joyce

    I would love to see movies at a movie theatre, but I can no longer tolerate the people with no manners and no consideration. WHY would anyone pay $9.50-10.00 to come to a movie with someone and then talk all the way through it? Are they just too cheap to go to a bar and pay for a drink? A bar or restaurant is an appropriate place for conversations to take place. A movie theatre by definition is a place to watch and listen to a movie. It is supposed to be a SILENT spectator sport.

    If you’re one of “those people” and my complaint applies to you, please realize it and find a better place to carry on your conversations.

  • OLd_5150_gUY

    I feel I must describe a situation that happened to me.

    My wife and I decided to go to the show and while we were waiting for the picture to begin there was a group of teens laughing loudly and uproariously at the antics of each other.

    This went on nonstop for about 5 minutes when suddenly one of the guys suddenly stood up and said so all could hear, “I just want everyone to know that when the picture begins, we’ll shut up”!

    And they did. Showed a lot of character and to me, good upbringing.

    So where does the responsibility for good manners, or rather lack there of, really lie?

  • Kingpong

    I guess that I don’t understand how this happened at a theater near Phila. I only attend two theaters when I go the movies (United Artist Grant Plaza and the AMC Neshaminy 24) and both of them have a message on the screen during the coming attractions to close all cell phones. My understanding is that a customer could complain to the manager/staff and have that abuser warned or he/she could be evicted from that performance.

    • T L Miller

      Like anybody pays attention to that stuff on the screen! They’re too busy texting!

  • Will Stark

    The Alamo Drafthouse chain says they do not permit talking or texting during films. Not only do they enforce it (one of their ads features a voicemail from someone they ejected), but recently announced that Madonna was banned from their chain until she apologized for texting during a screening.
    I see a lot of people here blaming ushers for what is really a societal problem. It’s not like the folks in question only act up in theaters. Movie employees today sell tickets, run concessions, deal with customer questions & complaints, clean the restrooms, check for safety hazards (doors left ajar, fire exits blocked), and respond to sound & film quality complaints. And they’re usually teens or young twenty-somethings.
    Besides, it doesn’t seem practical to have a couple (there would have to be at least two) of people standing around doing nothing unless and until someone made a complaint. Would YOU pay two or more employees to basically just stand around ?
    Even if that weren’t true (about movie employee duties), and even if a multiplex had enough screens to justify paying a “movie shusher,” have you thought about what would happen if they DID enforce strict movie etiquette ?
    On a recent visit to a movie chain, a grown man walked into the multiplex and tried to bluff his way in without paying. He claimed he had already paid to see a particular showing but had walked out in the middle of the two-hour film to check on his car. He “accidentally” dropped his ticket stub or left it in the car. He didn’t bother to tell anyone that he was leaving. When the young theater employee patiently informed the man that unfortunately he could not enter the theater to see the film (which was nearly over anyway), the customer kept making threats, “So what are you going to do, arrest me ? You can’t ! You going to try to throw me out ? I’d like to see you try !” etc.
    This particular young man kept his cool (and this occurred near the entrance, so there were other employees around if the customer got physical), but normally it’s just one person employed to “shush” a patron who protests about their “rights” and won’t hesitate to threaten a lawsuit, especially if they are physically ejected.

    • Bruce Reber

      Who’s going to try to get in to see a movie for free when it’s almost over? And then start trouble when he’s refused, especially when he knows he’s wrong? Sounds like that guy either wasn’t playing with a full deck, was under the influence of something or just SOS (stuck on stupid). There seems to be way too many of them these days – it’s time to thin out the herd, so to speak.

      • Will Stark

        He seemed slightly intoxicated, which would account for his belligerency and refusal to give up on a losing proposition.

  • Daisy

    I believe that we live in an age where technology, media, and pop culture are so hopelessly intertwined that people under 35 have genuine Reality issues. I go to movie theaters once, maybe twice a year–and that for something spectacular, like the Hobbit movies. I watch most of my movies on DVD and Blu-Ray or on Direct TV, and I daresay most of these kids do exactly the same. Going out to a movie isn’t really anything special for them; they can always watch it later, at home. Going out is a social activity. And in accord with the same linde of thinking, if you can watch it later on TV, the theater is an extension of your living room or home theater, where you can snack and chit-chat with friends and family, and kibbutz the movie with mindless mots about the actress’s gorgeous hair or how much weight the hunky hero has gained or what a dumb plotline they’re following; and have no qualms about asking someone three seats away for the popcorn or the M&Ms. Our movie-going experience has evolved into something quite different from what it was when us Boomers were growing up and coming of Age, so we may as well adapt and get used to it – and still stay at home to watch movies.. Or better! If you like live theater, give that a shot from time to time. People won’t talk there.

  • Law Wanxi

    I quit going to films about five years ago. I will never attend a film in a theatre ever again. If it doesn’t come out on DVD or streaming services, I can live without it.

    Most recent films are crap anyway. I prefer old films in the privacy and safety of my own home. I hope the brick and mortar theatre industry dies a slow, agonising and painful death by revenue starvation.

    • Bruce Reber

      I’m with you John! With the current technology, the movie theater is rapidly becoming obsolete anyway. Anyone can watch a movie anytime without even leaving their home.

      • Dawn

        Ah, but that large screen……

  • fedup

    Oh, yes … talking out loud (and at the screen), as if they were at home in their living rooms, a big NONO. Personally, I ssssh them once, then contact the management. No ticket buyer should have to put up with such rude, outrageous behavior. Another site of extremely bad behavior is graduation ceremonies…. at a nephew’s ceremony 5 years ago, I could not believe the noise and yelling … haven’t attended a ceremony since. One day, only the rude will attend any public gathering, because those who care to hear and pay attention will stay away … Wonder why Irv didn’t try to contact management, instead of wondering whether bad behavior is ‘the acceptable way?” Irv and others like him are letting far too many bad acts go unchallenged by proper management. Though he doesn’t realize it, Irv is an enabler of such creatures.

  • Thomas Majewski

    Its been over a decade since I last went to the movies. The best have already been made and I can’t support Hollywood with their arrogance and lack of talent.

  • JoAnne McMaster

    Are you kidding? People are glued to their phones 24 hours a day. They text constantly at Disneyland (in line, on the rides, getting off rides, at the shows, walking down the street, etc.) This alone tells me that people today have no idea how to live a full, rich life. If you need to take your phone EVERYWHERE (and that includes movie theaters), then why are you there? You’re obviously not connected to anything but the phone – certainly not connected to the movie you’re watching. So, cellphones are a reason I haven’t been to the theater in years. Tie that in with people who think nothing of talking constantly, kids who are there without supervision, bringing babies (who really have no business there as they don’t know anything except that it’s extremely loud around them), and moving from seat to seat and you have a pretty clear idea of what bothers me about theaters. That and the fact that movies made today are crap.

  • T L Miller

    Last movie I saw in a theater (talked into it by a friend) was, sadly, “Where the Wild Things Are” (Hey, we work in a library, ok?). First of all, crummy movie. Second, not REALLY for children, and bad idea to take a classic kid’s book to live action. Third, there were children in the audience WAAAAY under sit-down-and-watch-the-movie age, who wandered, roamed, whined, cried, etc, basically ignored by their parents, who, in addition to texting and talking, seemed oblivious to their kids wandering, roaming, whining, crying, etc., as if nobody else was in the theater! When it finally became apparent this wasn’t a good thing, countless people on the move to take the criers out, only to bring them back! (???) I hadn’t been to see a movie since “The Quiet American,” and before that, it was either “Boyz in the Hood” or “Top Gun!” Too much yakking, busy-ness — even in the pre-cell phone days — all these worse-than-children grown-ups, walking, excuse-me-can-I-get-through-here, in &out/back&forth, GEEZ! Some of us actually want to WATCH this, so would you please get somewhere and sit down!?!? Forget the ridiculous prices for tickets/concessions, the fact that neither newspapers nor marquees print showtimes, and so many movies are not worth the price of admission, it’s just turned into a drag. If I want to see something that’s been hyped, it IS a good thing I work in a library: I can check the video out and watch it at home… where it’s quiet and the concessions are free!

    • Bruce Reber

      See my comment re: the coming obsolescence of the movie theater.

  • Bruce Reber

    Each movie theater should have a “penalty box”, the same as at hockey games. If someone uses their cell phone/i-phone/smart phone they’re issued one warning to cease and desist by a rover/patrol. If the offender persists, they will be promptly escorted to the “penalty box”, a separate section of the theater partitioned by plexiglas without a speaker inside, where they can text/e-mail/whatever until they drop! If by some remote chance they might want to see the movie, they can WATCH, but can’t HEAR!!! Or maybe start making phone users pay fines for violating everyone elses right to enjoy the movie with their ignorance, say $20.00 for each use. Enforcing these two measures might be a little difficult, but it has to start somewhere.

    • T L Miller

      Have you met my father?!?!? That guy wants fines levied for EVERY infraction (from errors by shortstops and not using turn signals, to showing up late to work) that borders on rude or stupid — with the last stop, FIRING SQUAD! LOL

      • Bruce Reber

        I think there ARE fines for no turn signals in most (if not all areas) of the U.S. What about the “penalty box” idea? BTW, I’m not an extremist like your father.

        • T L Miller

          Hey, he’s seen a lot, including hockey fights! He’s 83, a Korean war vet, a church deacon and a borderline conspiracy theorist — it’s usually easier to just agree with him! LOL! Totally dig the penalty box idea, and wouldn’t mind it being adapted to LIBRARIES. There’s far more personal information broadcast in public places than any of us need to hear, so a sound-proof booth, or roped off area away from people who WANT to watch the movie, or read or something silly like that, would be able to. The ones who disturb the other guy’s peace: FINE ‘EM and FINE ‘EM BIG!

          • Wayne P.

            You and Bruce’s ideas are not half bad! An added advantage to them is the fines could be used by local charities and/or the government-civic organization (in the case of the library) for any need people have that money can alleviate. So, the sins that are sown by the obnoxious moviegoers will reap rewards for those worthwhile projectst/causes requiring help in their communities…whats not to like? Splendid thinking outside the box and a shout-out to your father for his service to the freedom of our nation! As French diplomat Alexis DeTocqueville said upon visiting the United States on the 50th anniversary of our independence from England in 1826: “America is great because its people are good. When its people cease being good, then America will cease to be great!”

  • HelenS1

    It’s so sad that people can’t have a good experience at the movies. I dated in a time when that was the primary entertainment. We’d dress up and go to the downtown movies palaces or have a more casual date at a local theater and don’t recall ever having any of the problems mentioned here. Of course it was before cell phones but, I think people had more consideration for each other in general. Now even if I see a movie coming out I’d like to see, I’ll wait for it to come to TV.

  • Martin

    I live in a small college town which has only a rather decrepit 6 screen complex that I patronized weekly for over 30 years. I finally gave up when it became virtually impossible to EVER enjoy or concentrate on a film (and when the theater owners continually hired college age idiots who apparently were never taught how to thread a projector (the final straw was when the print I was watching all alone on a Sunday matinee burned up in the projector and I had to run out to the lobby to notify the teeny bopper staff that their projector was self destructing…) I got my money back and a fee pas that I will NEVER use.

  • Carl-Edward

    When I was an undergraduate, I went one evening with a friend to see: ‘Tunes Of Glory’, which as you know, is laid in Scotland, although some of the actors -depending on their roles – talked with their natural English accents, rather than like Scotsmen.
    A dreadful old woman, seated with her husband a few rows in front of us, kept asking him in a loud, querulous voice: ‘What’d he say? What’d he say?’ This became more than one could bear, until at last one said in a clear, distinct voice: ‘DO shut up!’ ‘What? What?’ came the reply.
    My friend later complimented me on what he was pleased to call my courage – although it had required no courage!

  • rogerscorpion

    I go to ONE theatre, a Landmark Cinema, which makes an effort to curb talking & cell phone use. Would people get away with such behavior, if they went to a live play?

  • edro3111

    I bought a cell phone jammer just before the feds stopped the importation of them. I specifically use it in theaters. The first time I did, sure enough, just after the movie started about 3 or 4 screens popped up in my line of sight and texting started. I hit the power button on the jammer in my shirt pocket and stopped them dead in their tracks. End of problem. Still one of the best investments I ever made!

  • Lorraine M.

    It’s been so long since I’ve been to a movie theater that I no longer remember what film I went to see. And I used to LOVE movie-going! When I was a kid, it was one of life’s great pleasures. Sad, but it’s where we are now as a culture. We are lumbered with a generation who, enabled by changing technologies, have little or no awareness at all of basic common courtesy and proper etiquette in public spaces.
    I agree with others here, that we are witnessing the slow decline of the movie house, and it’s a terrible shame, because every once in a while a movie comes along (or a classic gets re-issued) that is best appreciated on a wide, larger-than-life screen and in the presence of others who are loving it as much as you are. In fact, that used to be one of the special joys of movie-going–all the strangers seated in the dark around you who laughed when you laughed, gasped when you gasped and applauded and cheered when you did. I think the last time I had such an experience in a theater, we were watching a great new film called “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

  • James Hamilton

    I have always enjoyed seeing a movie in a theater, that is until all manners and courtesies have gone out the window. I have given up trying to have manners, I just tell them to TURN OFF the phone or SHUT UP to the chatty cathys. If that doesn’t work, report it to the management and demand a refund.

  • Henry Ottinger

    I also feel that people who are not thoughtful of others should be dealt with. Pete Smith during the 302, 40s and 50s created a series of shorts for MGM called the Pete Smith Speciality. One short especially addresses this going problem it is MOVIE PESTS. I feel that what the patrons it this film did to the annoyers is perfect.