Cinema Paradouche-o (or How to Behave in the Movie Theater)

So I’ve been to the movies twice this week (to see IT and MOTHER!, both of which were excellent), but both occasions were marred by the behavior of other people in the theater. Now I’ve bitched about this before, but not often, because such instances weren’t all that common. This no longer seems to be the case. I’m absolutely expecting some of you to defend disruptive behavior in movie theaters because, well, someone always does, and that’s pretty much where we are as a society now.

“People should be allowed to check their phones during a movie.”

No, they really shouldn’t. That’s why there’s a giant notice to that effect on the screen before every movie. I’m not paying $20 to see a movie I’ve been looking forward to for an age just so I can be forced against my will to have my attention drawn to your phone because your bae wants to know where the bong is or because your child exploded in Target.

godupdates strangers help screaming woman in grocery store fb

“I don’t care that you’re at the movie theater. Billy’s like, spread across three aisles!”


During IT, the woman sitting right next to me had some weird, blinding stroboscopic light on her phone that went off every ten minutes until she eventually left the theater an hour into the movie to take a call.

During MOTHER!, the woman (note, I didn’t say teen, because she was at least in her forties) seated right in front of me spent the entire running time of the movie scrolling through Facebook. Which meant that while I’m looking at the movie screen, I have this glowing white oblong of light right underneath it.

Solution? If you absolutely have to be on your phone during a movie, turn the brightness down. Way, way down.

godupdates strangers help screaming woman in grocery store fb2

Like, this much.

Back to IT: when the flash-phone lady wasn’t guiding ships through the fog with her fucking Samsung, she was talking loudly with her boyfriend. Now, it’s important to note that I’m not someone who complains often, and never in public. I don’t even send my food back if they mess it up at a restaurant.


“I ordered the onion rings, but whatevs.”

But this couple were so loud and so distracting, that I eventually asked them–politely–to keep it down. And they did, but not without the boyfriend glaring at me for the rest of the movie as if I’d asked him if his balls had a strobe light too.

During MOTHER! the women seated next to Facebook-phone lady decided to MST3K the movie about 30 mins in, right about the point they realized it wasn’t a jump scare movie. When they weren’t doing this, they were standing up and blocking the screen so that they could discuss what food everyone wanted from the concession stand.

And still, STILL there are people who defend this behavior, and as a result it’s now a pleasant surprise when a movie ISN’T disrupted by some scuttlefart with a cell addiction.

Talking in the theater

“What did you say about, Billy? Sorry, hun, there’s a bunch of quiet people being rude to me.”

It’s not about the variety of reasons you ABSOLUTELY OMG HAVE to have your cell phone with you (babysitters, relatives in need, 7 days since you watched that weird videotape in the cabin), rather it is, like so many of the issues affecting us today, about nothing more than common courtesy.

And we appear to be running low.

Turn off your phone, turn off your mouth, or stay at home. You have a wealth of entertainment options at your fingertips. There is no longer any excuse for you to ruin mine.

EDIT: A lot of you are suggesting weekday screenings as a way of avoiding this behavior. I saw IT at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, MOTHER! at 7 p.m. on Thursday.


10 thoughts on “Cinema Paradouche-o (or How to Behave in the Movie Theater)

  1. Ugh. There is no excuse for the amount of boorish people out there these days. I bring a purse, in which I keep my cell, and only check it INSIDE my purse for the time during the movie. Usually when I am deciding just HOW badly I really need to pee and if I can hold it till the end.

    I went to see a classic horror film from Japan called Kwaidan at a Museum in Boston once with two male friends from a Facebook group we mod. One of them just could.not.shut.up. Me and the other guy took to ignoring him, hoping he’d finally stop but he didn’t. It took the people behind us and me seconding their complaint to get him to shut it. SO embarrassing when it’s a member of your own posse acting like a fool.

    I do prefer matinees myself or weekdays since they DO tend to be less crowded, but I see that didn’t even help you. I saw IT on Thursday at 7pm (same as you, I think!) and was seated with a family of four-mom, dad and two late teenaged girls. Nobody had their phone out, and they loved the movie, leaving me laughing silently at the amount of times they screamed and jumped. IT was a blast and I am so glad I went to see it in the theater.

    • Not every movie-going experience has been a bad one for me, but it does seem like it’s getting worse. Thankfully, I’ve never had anyone I was with act like a turkey-faced ding-dong, but that’s because I’m extremely selective about who I go to the movies with. If they did, I’d text their face to remind them to shut the hole in it.

      • It was cringe-worthy, to be sure. And since we only knew each other from online (we’d never met this guy in person before), we were at a loss on how to politely shut him up.

        Frankly, I have one friend that I see films with regularly but won’t do horror, so I tend to go alone or wait for it to hit disc if it’s not a must-see in the theater. IT was worth seeing by myself (my “date” had to work) and everyone was very polite. It may help that we were in a small town theater, too.

  2. A-freakin’-men. You know, the more movies I see out at the local cineplex these days, the more I believe that there are far too many people who think they’re actually at home rather than At The Movie Theater.

  3. I knew it was all over in 2002 when I went to see Minority Report in London and it was like sitting in a fucking zoo. Everyone was talking and texting away like a bunch of crack-addled chimps. I hadn’t been to the movies in a while and still didn’t even own a mobile at the time so it was a huge culture shock. People were barely paying attention to the movie. They were absorbed in the glow of their own screens. I could see them on my peripheral vision looking up during an action scene and looking back down at their phones every time things got quiet again. The long dialogue scene in the greenhouse in particular was too much for them to cope with. Teenagers up the back started throwing maltesers around. Other people started talking on their phones. And not in a hushed ‘I’m in a cinema so I better keep it brief and keep it down’ way but yakking away as though in their lounge rooms. I could scarely believe it. I kept telling people to be quiet but there was no point because I was the odd one out. And it wasn’t just young people being inconsiderate. A couple of old women behind me were talking loudly on their phones for about ten minutes. At one point some guy in the front row got up and opened the emergency door to take a call in the corridor. He didn’t even close the door behind him but stood there just inside the doorway talking and flooding the room with fluorescent light.
    Even when I wasn’t being distracted by all the noise it got me in such a bad mood that I couldn’t enjoy the movie or even concentrate on what was happening. When a baby started crying and the mother just kept texting with one hand and rolling the pram back and forth in the aisle with the other, I walked out and demanded my money back. This was an afternoon screening on a weekday. The counter guy ended up giving me a free ticket for a late night showing. There were a lot fewer people there so I was able to get through it the second time. But there were still people talking amongst themselves and texting nonstop throughout the film. I used to love going to the cinema but I basically can’t go anymore. There’s barely anything worth watching anyway and even when there is the hordes of mobile phone addicts will ruin it. The collective attention span and consideration required to become absorbed in a film at the cinema is gone. People are like children now. If they’re not playing with their phones they’re constantly talking and fidgeting and scrunching crisp packets and getting up out of their seats for one thing or another. The ever growing glut of films and TV shows available on Netflix & co will probably kill cinema sooner than anyone expects. The combination of low cost and the freedom to enjoy a movie in peace and quiet in the comfort of one’s home is too attractive for those of us who can’t tolerate the public’s bullshit. Box office revenue is in steep decline across the West. Big business will do what it always does to make up a loss and pass the cost on to the consumer. Ticket prices are already getting beyond a joke though. There’s only so much they can increase them before people stop buying. 

  4. My sister did this at my son’s play. I was SO pissed. Really? You can’t shut that sh*t off for an hour? I hate people so much. I rarely bother with the movie theater anymore for this very reason.

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