Going to the movies is fantastic – it may no longer be a cheap and cheerful form of entertainment, but it’s still an enjoyable one… unless you come across one of those. The kind of person who views a cinema as an extension of their own living room, and couldn’t care less about the little courtesies that keep it fun for everyone. To these people, the $15 they spent on a ticket entitles them to all manner of bad behavior, from talking over the movie to texting through it.
Most people can figure out the basics of cinema-going etiquette for themselves – don’t do things that would make other people miserable, uncomfortable, or otherwise put your movie-watching experience above theirs. But for some, it’s a little bit of a grey area. To help make sure that we can all get along (and enjoy the film!), we’ve put together some of the most egregious lapses in manners that we’ve seen at the movies.
Here are the 15 Worst Things You Can Do In A Movie Theater.
15. Sneaking In
Sad fact: we don’t live in an ‘80s movie. Sneaking in through the backdoor isn’t adorable, doesn’t make you rebellious, and generally just isn’t cool. Without wanting to sound too much like the ads at the start of a DVD, it really is stealing. Movies are expensive, sure, but is it really worth the savings if it makes you the moviegoing equivalent of the guy who cuts in line every chance he gets?
It could well be that nobody even notices, but being the type who thinks that they are better than everyone else and therefore don’t have to play by the same rules… doesn’t make you smarter than all those people who lined up and paid like functional adults. It just kinda makes you a jerk.
14. Seat saving
Everybody knows that saving a seat for your friend while they grab popcorn is fine. One seat. Maybe two. But as a general rule, if you can’t sit in your seat and touch the seats you are trying to save, then you are trying to save too many. If there are actually ten people watching with you, surely the other nine didn’t all have to go outside at once, did they? People hate this, and it inevitably leads to someone walking up the stairs to what they think is an empty seat, only to realize that one person has called dibs on the whole row.
Inevitably, some of the “friends” who were going to be “back in a minute, I swear” don’t show up, leaving prime seating empty while some poor viewer has to snap their neck to watch from the front row.
13. Getting Up Multiple Times
Unless you are in a day-long marathon, there’s really no need to get up multiple times. Once, sure. You planned badly, you were running late, you were convinced by the concession stand to supersize your cola into a gallon-sized bucket… it happens. Beyond that, stay seated. Every time you get up, you block the view of everyone behind you. Every time you have to awkwardly “sorry” yourself through a row, you disrupt the movie for every single person in that row, behind that row, and directly in front of that row. Just sit. It’s only a couple hours.
Coming in late is also on the unacceptable side of rude. We’re not talking five minutes, we’re not talking after the start time on the ticket but before the adverts are finished. We’re talking LATE. Twenty minutes into the movie, when you come in, we can all hear you whispering with your friend/date/whomever about trying to find a seat in a pitch black theater. We’re all watching you clump around, “sorry” your way to an empty seat, and loudly settle in when we would much rather be learning the lead character’s backstory. After a certain point, just let it go. See the next showing, see a different movie, or throw up your hands and go to a bar instead.
12. Kicking Seats
This is something that really serves no purpose whatsoever except to annoy the person in front of you. If you are in a theater where the seats are connected through the backs, it can even annoy the entire row in front of you, which is verging on an accomplishment (albeit a terrible one). Find a position for your legs, and leave them there. It really shouldn’t be difficult. If you want to move, judge how long your legs are so that you don’t boot the person in front. You’ve had these legs your whole life. Unless you are in the midst of a teen growth spurt, you should know where they end.
On the subject of legs and feet – seat backs aren’t footrests. It seems petty if there is no one in front of you, but think for a moment about all the things that the soles of your shoes have walked through or on. Now think about all that grossness getting left on the seat in front… ready for the next showing, when some poor person is going to press their head directly into it.
11. Getting Drunk
At home, curling up on the couch with a bottle of wine and the one you love is a perfect, romantic evening. Maybe two bottles of wine. We won’t judge. However, bringing booze into a cinema stops being cool around the age that you can legally buy the booze you want to bring.
By all means, have a drink with dinner beforehand, but what’s the point of paying for a movie just to end up sloshed in the back row with only a hazy idea of the plot? More than just being a waste of money, being the drunk guy at the movie generally leads to doing some of the other items on this list. Essentially, the drunk-movie-watcher is abrasive, loud, and nowhere near as subtle as he thinks he is. Everyone can hear that can opening, and everyone is rolling their eyes about it.
10. Forgetting About Personal Hygiene
This really goes for life in general, but please remember that you are going to be sharing close quarters with strangers for the next two to three hours, and plan accordingly. Grabbing a movie right after your workout isn’t particularly considerate if you don’t give yourself time to shower in between.
Wearing stained sweats that haven’t been through the wash for as long as you can remember may be comfy for you, but it’s distinktly uncomfortable for those around you. Just because you are silently staring at a screen and eating junk food, that doesn’t mean that you can go for at-home-alone personal hygiene.
9. Wearing Clothing Bigger Than Yourself
This one is an especially prevalent problem at comic book movies on opening night. Wearing your fandom on your sleeve is fantastic, and dressing up to watch the latest Marvel movie can make it an even better experience – and not just for yourself. Other moviegoers love to see impressive Jedi knights swaggering through the lobby with a bucket of popcorn, because it’s fun! It’s less amusing, however, when your costume takes up more space than you do, thus blocking the view of the actual movie for the people behind you. Six-foot wing spans are amazing, but they are not designed for squeezing into a row of cinema seats. Make sure your costume fits for the movie itself, because that’s what the really important thing is, after all.
Admittedly, there is something strange about the fact that moviegoing is seen as a social outing, but you are expected to sit in silence next to your friends for two to three hours. Still, silence is pretty much the only thing anyone wants to hear from you. Movies aren’t TV shows that you DVR’d, or a movie that you can re-watch on DVD later. Most people will only see a movie once in theaters, and then don’t have a chance to re-watch it for months. So missing out on an important line because you were “whispering” over it is kind of a big deal.
Worse than just general conversation going on around you though, is the predictor, who spends the film guessing what’s going to happen next. Worst of all, is the spoiler. If you have already seen the film once, have heard rumors, seen extra footage, or read a leaked script, don’t ruin it for everyone else by telling your friend seconds before it happens. And we don’t care how quiet you think you are being, you aren’t. Just enjoy the movie quietly, and talk about it together after it’s done.
7. “Forgetting” To Turn Off Your Phone
Every now and then, you might actually forget to turn off your phone. We’re all human, and it happens. Oops. However, there’s the innocent people who make a mistake, and the people who just don’t seem to think that the rules apply to them. Texting your friend about going for a drink after and Instagramming a photo of your popcorn should happen before the trailers, not during the film. Live-tweeting is something that you do at home, when that bright light isn’t going to drive the people around you crazy, and trying to make a blurry phone-cam recording of a film in theaters? Come on now. Just don’t.
6. Bringing Rude Food
No, not the kind of hilariously shaped food you would usually see at a raucous bachelorette party. The kind of food that you know full well is going to annoy everyone around you. Want to bring a bag of M’n’M’s from home instead of paying $5 for them at the concession stand? Not a huge deal. Bring in an entire picnic of crinkly chip bags, blue cheese salad and kimchi noodles, and we’re in another league entirely.
If the food you are planning to smuggle in under your overcoat is noisy, smelly, messy, or otherwise something that you wouldn’t want to sit next to on a crowded bus, don’t bring it to a crowded movie theater.
5. Getting Naughty (Public Displays of Affection)
Movies might be synonymous with makin’ out in the back row, but this isn’t the ‘50s, and those “loveseats” without a dividing armrest are long gone. Yes, it’s date night, and yes, your date is smokin’ hot and you are just crazy about them… but they’ll still be there to make out with at the end of the film. Sloppily (and noisily) smooching throughout the film is just as rude and annoying as loudly doing anything else, plus you’ll miss half the movie!
There are plenty of ways to inject a little romance into your evening: letting your hands brush as you both reach for the popcorn, snuggling up with an arm around your loved one, getting close and cosy without going over the top… Just don’t leave those around you wondering which show they should be watching (and what yours is rated).
4. Bringing Your Baby (Or Other Small Humans)
If you are headed to see the latest G-rated animation at 2pm on a Saturday, of course you are going to bring your kids. That’s not a problem. What is a problem is bringing your newborn infant along with you – yes, getting babysitters sucks, and it would just be so much easier for you to bring along the sleeping baby and hope it goes well. But missing the best joke or having an intense on-screen moment broken by a squalling baby is just not OK. Risking damage to your child’s hearing is also not OK– surround sound theater systems are just too powerful for tiny ears.
On a related note, make sure that older children are going to films that are age-appropriate. It may be legal to bring your six-year-old to an R-rated movie, but that doesn’t mean you should do it. Even if you think Little Timmy is a movie-watching wunderkind who would truly appreciate The Human Centipede, you are making everyone else in the theater uncomfortable with the presence of your tiny tot. Stick to kids’ movies for kids, please.
3. Sitting Next To A Stranger (In An Empty Cinema)
What are you doing, Mr. Creepy-Pants? Sitting directly next to someone in a half-empty theater is beyond uncomfortable. It’s the norm when the room is packed, but if there are plenty of other choices, don’t do it. It’s a strange invasion of personal space, coupled with the fear that you are about to be subjected to some kind of moviegoing Forrest Gump who wants to make friends with you mid-plotline. Leave a buffer.
Leave a seat or two between you and the total stranger who will spend the rest of the film checking her purse and giving you the side-eye if you don’t. Sitting directly behind someone is also creepy. Sitting in front of them isn’t, because there’s no level of I’m-watching-you subtext. Sit with the people you came with, and try not to make other people uncomfortable by plopping down right next to them.
Right after you get out of a fantastic movie, of course you want to talk about it. Dissecting a film and raving about the best moments and plot twists is amazing, but try to remember that other people can hear you. Also try to remember that other people in the theater lobby are about to see one of the films currently playing, and there’s a good chance that it’s the one you just saw.
Loudly talking about the most surprising moment of the movie where all is revealed and the entire theater gasps can wait till you get past the people who want to experience the same thrill when they see it firsthand. Don’t ruin it for people moments before they are about to see it – that’s just mean.
Unless you are at a special event where audiences are encouraged to shout comments at the screen, remember that real life isn’t Twitter. Nobody wants to know what you are thinking at any given moment during the show. Sure, the odd exclamation might slip out if you are really into the movie, but those are forgivable.
Not so forgivable is the girl who hoots, hollers, and practically carries on a conversation with the characters on-screen. 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.
Any other behavior that should be verboten in the movie theater? Let us know in the comments!
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