Movie Theater Etiquette for the Modern Day Audience

rules for being in a movie theater

It’s very sad that I have to write an article like this in our day and age. One would think that society has grown and matured over the years to the point where we wouldn’t have to be told how to act around other people. Well it would seem that courtesy has been thrown out the window and a new day is dawning where people couldn’t care less about others around them. Back in 2003, Screen Rant founder Vic Holtreman wrote a great rant about people talking during films. I've decided to expand on those thoughts.

We could talk for hours about how rude society has become and how we ultimately got to this point, but that is a discussion for a different time and place. I want to discuss some of the issues facing the modern day moviegoer and what they can do to make everyone’s movie watching experience more enjoyable. So, I will be discussing the 3 biggest problems in movie theaters today: cell phones, babies and talking during films.

Although technology has improved our lives, it sometimes degrades our theater going experience. Take cell phones for example: these are wonderful modern day gadgets that allow us to be in constant contact with everyone and everything around us. Car broke down? Use your cell phone to call a tow truck. Want to order a pizza and pick it up on your way home from work? You can do that too. Miss your mom, girlfriend or boyfriend and want to catch up with them? You can now do it from anywhere in the world. However, “anywhere” does NOT include the movie theater!

Cell phone interruptions has become such a problem in theaters that the original “Please refrain from talking during the movie” slides that used to be shown before a film have now been replaced with “Please silence your cell phone.” Unfortunately, people didn’t respond very well to that because it was still happening on a consistent basis; theater groups and studios then upped the ante by producing very elaborate fake movie “trailers” that grabbed the viewers attention. Some of them are so well done that I’ve often wanted to see an actual film based on those fake trailers.

The problem with cell phones (as I see it) is that people think they are the most important person in the world and therefore the "common" rules don’t apply to them. They think that their phone call is SO important that it just absolutely can’t be put off for two hours. Unless you are a doctor, detective or district attorney (it would seem those people are constantly getting phone calls that they just can’t ignore – at least in movies) then you don’t need your phone on. At the very least put it on vibrate; no one is impressed that you have the latest P. Diddy, Dixie Chicks or Adam Lambert song as your ring tone.

I can understand if it slips your mind and you forget to put it on mute or vibrate - accidents happen, but the sake of everything fuzzy, grab it and hit mute when it starts ringing! Don’t sit there and act as if you can’t hear it ringing. The people outside the theater can hear it ringing! And do not answer the phone and say “Hey bro/mom/honey. What’s up?” or “Hey, I can’t talk now.” Just mute the ringer, and let it go to voicemail - that’s what voicemail is for.

So be courteous please and remember to mute your ringer before going into the theater.  It shows how much you care about other people’s theater experience. After all, we paid to watch the film on the screen, not listen to your ringer jam out to MC Hammer’s “Too Legit to Quit”.

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