As Denis Leary once said, “Happiness comes in small doses folks.”
He was referring to a cookie or something else incredibly insignificant in your life that brings great pleasure. Next to basketball, the one thing that makes me happier than a pig in mud is being able to see a movie in a theater, with an audience, and a giant bucket of popcorn pressed between my legs (enjoy that metaphor). It’s the rare hour and a half I get to escape from the real world, and immerse myself in someone else’s fantasy. It keeps me focused in the director’s world that they’ve created, and forces me to shut down technology without having any urges to hit the pause button to check an e-mail. I AM FOCUSED; that is until someone else gives into their urges and pops on their cell phone…
I constantly hear and read about new “ideas” to solve the problem. But there’s only one way to eradicate cell phone use in theaters, and that’s with ZERO TOLERANCE.
Please read forth to see how you can help make a change. I urge you to take a few minutes out of your day to help. One voice gets lost in the woods, but an assault of requests can’t be ignored.
Stopping the use of cell phones in theaters is easy. Theaters and managers will acknowledge the problem; they’ll say they’re working on it, but ultimately, theaters are afraid that they’ll LOSE customers by kicking them out if the theater. Instead, they expect us to compromise our own safety by asking the offender in a pitch-black theater to please refrain from texting, checking e-mail, or surfing Instagram.
Using a cell phone in a theater is a disturbance; just like a drunk fan at a sporting event is a disturbance. On the back of tickets it states that the venue has the right to refuse the admittance to any guest and can eject them without a refund. By accepting the ticket, it’s a contract between the ticket seller and the buyer.
This means that theaters can eject a guest without any legal ramifications.
So why doesn’t this happen? My theory is that the theaters are afraid that if they eject a disruptive guest, that patron won’t return to “spend money” in the future. From my perspective, the theaters are going to lose their “good” customers – you know, people who actually want to see the movie – for the younger generation of kids who are solely at theaters for the social experience, as opposed to actually seeing a movie.
Without any repercussions – such as immediate ejection without a refund – the theaters are non-verbally communicating to these bad eggs that it’s “OK” to use their cell phone in a theater.
Theaters need to utilize negative reinforcement and adopt a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for the use of cell phones in theaters. If caught, patrons are ejected immediately. I guarantee they’ll never do that again in that theater, and word will spread rapidly of the theater’s strong stance.
I could go on and on about the issue, but really, there’s nothing to discuss. I could tell you stories, but you’ve experienced them on your own. Something needs to happen, someone needs to take a stand, and as a movie-going community we can make a difference.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO in very easy steps (and I urge you to have your friends also participate).
1: Tweet to your favorite theater chain and nicely express your frustration with cell phone use in theaters. Offer the ZERO TOLERANCE solution. Let them know this is the only way to effective eradicate the problem.
2: If this bothers you as much as it does I, you may also call your local theaters, ask for the managers and nicely express the same sentiments. ZERO TOLERANCE.
3: Take it a step further and visit the websites of theater chains and contact the main company. Express your frustration nicely.
4: VERY IMPORTANT: If you are in a theater and have this problem, DO NOT approach the individual. Walk out of the theater, speak civilly to the theater MANAGER, and ask him to remove the problem. When the movie is over, request a FREE MOVIE TICKET for your troubles, and make it clear that they’re going to lose you as a customer if things don’t change.
I think it is extremely important to make our voices heard – without voicing your complaints, the theaters think there’s no problem. We must show them there’s serious concern. I love the ease of VOD, but at the end of the day I am a movie fan who loves to experience film in theaters. I want the fun to return to cinemas. I’m sick and tired of feeling anxiety in my sanctuary.
Here’s a great article posted at Dark of the Matinee that lit the fire under my ass to post this.
(*In the comment section, please tell me any twitter handles or company links I may have missed.)
Watch a bunch of Alamo Drafthouse PSA videos that play before every feature: