A Difficult Conversion, Or Why Going To The Movies Kind Of Sucks

As much as it pains me to take back the comments I made with the post, “Why Going To The Movies Doesn’t Suck”, recent film going experiences have forced me to do just that. The post, made in response to an episode of Battleship Pretension, argued that going to the movies was one of the most important aspects of the film-watching experience. At the time, it was something I fully believed, however recent horrid theatre experiences,are forcing me to reconsider.

My road to Damascus actually started in early September at a matinee showing of The American, only a week after publishing the post. That is when I began to wonder if I might have been wrong.

If a film like The American is only playing at the multiplex, I will go to a matinee in the belief that the crowd will be better. It was my belief that this was a sure fire way of avoiding the texting and talking teenagers sure to accompany The American. However I realized that the matinee crowd, consisting mostly of middle-aged-to-retired couples, was just as bad as any. Instead of texting what I got was couples speaking nonchalantly about anything and everything and more disturbing yet, several people eating foil-wrapped sandwiches.

I tried to ignore this experience as I loved the film, and didn’t want to take back an article I had just written. It has always been a normal part of my film going experience to have to ask people to stop texting or talking. It occurs so frequently I have become accustomed to it, and just accepted it. However, with another recent film-going experience, this time with Black Swan, I have finally accepted the truth: going to the movies does kind of suck.

The problem is not with the art house or independent cinemas as the audience attracted to those theatres are not simply going to get in from the cold. It is, for the most part, with the large multiplex theatres where audiences seem to lack any respect for the film and those around them. It is certainly not the entire crowd, just a handful of people in each screening, who decide to text their buddies or answer a phone call in the middle of Toy Story 3.

If I seem bitter, it is because I am. Seeing a film like Shutter Island, which I had waited months to see, and have it ruined by some woman texting throughout the entire film, leaves me feeling slightly defeated.

It is interesting talking to an average movie goer as they seem to have never noticed the texting or constant talking. It makes me wonder if maybe as film fanatics we have become hypersensitive to any distraction during a film. Even if this were the case, it still doesn’t forgive the utter lack of respect given in a theatre. Many of the showings of my favourite films of the year were ruined by these annoyances that I mentioned before, and it is frustrating to realize that maybe it is better to see a film at home.

As a film fan, I enjoy nothing more than becoming absolutely sucked into a film and losing myself for an hour or two. The problem with this, is that the flickering light of someone setting up their night on their phone or talking to their girlfriend about God knows what takes you out of the film.

I will never give in and stop going to the cinema, however please, turn the phone off, leave the sandwiches at home and enjoy the film. I mean, you did just pay ten dollars for a reason, right?

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90 Responses to A Difficult Conversion, Or Why Going To The Movies Kind Of Sucks

  1. John says:

    I’ve found a few ways to combat it. First and foremost, I go to the earliest show possible. Often, this means 10 a.m. shows. It’s fantastic how empty the theater is at this time. Second, I sit way up front. I don’t mean that I sit in the first row, but certainly the front section, maybe 4 or 5 rows back. At a matinée with a mostly empty theater, nobody else is going to sit there. So whatever visual interruptions might occur are behind me. And last but not least, I’ll wait a few weeks to go see a new release.

    That having been said, I generally find that most people aren’t too bad about answering phone calls or talking throughout the film. Every time I go, as the previews are rolling, I hear loads and loads of chatter behind me and I seethe, thinking to myself “You rat bastards had better shut up once the film starts”. And much more often than not, they do.

  2. Interesting thoughts… I don’t go to the first run theaters too often, for several reasons, but what I really hate about going to movies these days is the incessant blaring in your face advertising and even the numerous previews for movies I never intend to see that one has to sit through before the main feature starts. I hope I’m not getting old and cranky but I miss the days of just going to the movies, seeing two or three previews and having the film start on time.

    Fortunately there’s a good second-run theater in town that sells discount admissions and one local art house that just shows the movie I pay to see without all the hype and hubbub.

  3. Emily Friedly says:

    1o dollars?! It’s usually around 17 to 20 dollars here in the Seattle area, meaning all the aforementioned issues make it more likely than not that I will willingly wait until it comes out on dvd.

  4. RunningSiren says:

    Generally I see a film during an afternoon matinee on the opening weekend, arriving early to get the seat I want and usually read a book or magazine through the noisy pre-show crap/adverts until the trailers start. Not every film, but more frequently this past year I have noticed I have to tell someone around me to “please turn that thing off” – I hate having to do that as it ruins my mood for a few minutes or more. And I always stay and watch all the credits – me and about a half dozen others if it’s a good film.
    What is important to me is the seating in a theatre – and during the past two years I have definitely favoured the several theatres in my city with stadium-style seats.
    My favourite way of seeing films are at film festivals – the audiences are far more enthusiastic, especially if it’s a good film – nothing like hearing the sound of applause at the end of a good film. And in my travels I always see films in other cities, sometimes audiences are different than home, sometimes not.
    But I fear that the price of films, especially for 3D films, are getting to be too much for the average person, and matinee prices are disappearing too. I have seen 72 films in movie theatres in 2010 so far, and only a handful of bad ones. The vast majority have been worth the experience, whether I paid $7.50 at a matinee at home or $16.00 in a Los Angeles theatre where I got to pick my own seat and splurged on the $4 water and $4 hotdog (and where no one texted during the film).

  5. P saunders says:

    Reasons i stopped going –

    price

    overhyped lousy movies

    previews that give away most of the movie they advertise

    other people

  6. juan cela says:

    I am spanisch screwrentier films glades

  7. J-Lee says:

    I only go to the Alamo drafthouse to watch movies anymore. There they advertise before the movie that if you get a complaint about talking or cell phone use, they will and I quote “kick your ass out.” We can also order real food and alcohol as well to make it a total dinner and movie night. They also don’t allow babies and children to r rated movies, so no screaming kids either! Yeah! I can no longer tolerate the talking, screaming, and texting during movies because all I can think about is that I paid $20 to get in and $20 for food to listen to this crap?! So we mostly wait until it comes out on netflix. Movie going does suck!!!!

  8. Metronyx says:

    Well, Iwish I could say that this is an U.S dilemma, but it’s not. Even here in little Sweden there have been times I wish I knew how Spock silenced all those people just with one touch. It is depressing when you want to support the cinemas and just end up feelin annoyed because a large portion of the audience doesn’t know the meaning of “shut up”.

  9. Danny Hall says:

    I used to go to the cinema 3-4 times a week. Then it became less and less. Mobiles, rising prices and children screaming soon reduced it even more. I have now lived in the Middle East for five years and the movies are heavily censored. The last time I went was two years ago and with only four people in the cinema, one of them still tried to talk on his mobile. I lost my patience and turned it off and launched it down the front of the cinema. I haven’t been back since. I stay at home with the high def. and surround sound. Life is too short.

  10. Problems arise in arthouse cinemas also. I just got back from a Hitchcock screening of The Wrong Man at my local arthouse cinema and a lady sitting behind me (the bad ones are ALWAYS sitting behind you) was rustling her plastic bag during the entire film. It sounded like she was wearing the plastic bag, or using it as some sort of a breathing device, because the rustling did not stop. A man sitting beside me gave her the shut-the-hell-up-or-leave death stare, which made her stop – briefly.

    So I have to (half) agree with you. Going to the movies kind of sucks – sometimes. Despite this, we still go to the movies. Watching films at home just doesn’t compete.

    • When they sit behind you it is almost worse, as it is harder to tell them to stop talking. I will not stop going, as home video can be great, but it will never compare. Unfortunately, too often a perfect experience is ruined by some bag rustling person!

  11. Say What says:

    Hmm 10 bucks??? I only pay 4.50!! Usually the theater is empty, so I don’t have any of these problems, and thank god, because that would get really annoying!

  12. Dear Daniel Bergamini:
    going to the theater does not suck.

    1) stop complaining about peoples food preferences. people smack smack smacking on popcorn throughout the film is equally as annoying as any foil wrapped sandwich. sack up and ignore it. they paid ten bucks they have every right to enjoy their sandwiches.

    2) i direct you to this louis ck interview from a couple of years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk . The world does not owe you the perfect cinema going experience. cinema is a wondrous piece of technology, and anytime you go to the theater, its amazing. if you can run and maintain a 35mm film projector yourself, then you can set your own rules about other people’s movie going practices. otherwise, you cant complain about other theater guests.

    3) if you’re really that much of a selfish misanthrope to allow petty annoyances ruin movie going experiences, follow and extend the gene siskle rule of the crying baby. every film he went to he brought an $20 just in case someone had baby that started crying durring the film. he would then kindly offer the baby’s parents the $20 so they would leave. if sandwiches and texting bug you that much, then sack up and deal with the problem yourself. everyone will think you the hero for causing a minor disturbance if it removes the annoying people from the theater

    otherwise, if such minor annoyances really are that disturbing to you, stay home. and don’t complain when a movie on your laptop doesn’t quite live up to theater.

    the worst people in any movie theater are the film snobs, becuse they’re impossible to please, and will always find something to annoy them. and this is from a film student whose taken three classes on foreign experimental cinema.

    • John Holmes says:

      You, sir, are a jackass. When someone pays their hard-earned money to spend an evening out enjoying a movie, they expect people to adhere to certain etiquette which has been established over time. Not only that, but cinemas routinely display signs and notices ON THE SCREEN about not texting and talking during a film.

      Pretentious contrarians such as yourself will always find a reason to disagree with a majority of the people. Sack up and deal with it.

    • Andy says:

      You completely miss the point. Little over your head?

      Movie lovers(like myself) love to lose themselves in movies. Selfish, disrespectful louts with little to no regard for others around them ruin this, for no good reason.

      • sean says:

        No, actually, you miss the point. When you “lose yourself in the movie”, you specifically DON’T notice all that stuff. That’s why ‘average moviegoers’ don’t notice — because they’re watching the movie.

        But there’s a whole subgroup of people who fetishize the moviegoing experience so much that they expect total silence out of some misguided notion of “respect” for the movie. Nope, sorry. People are allowed to eat noisy food at the movies — that’s why it’s sold there. The only way to notice texting is if you take your eyes off the screen so, consequently, the only time I noticed it and it bothered me was a shitty movie like ‘I Am Legend’, where half the crowd started texting because they were young and bored.

        It’s not a golf game, it’s a movie.

    • Matt Murray says:

      I like how in your eyes one has to be a misanthrope to “allow” themselves to be annoyed by rude assholes, as if being annoyed is a choice. While I’ve often been tempted to bribe people to leave or shut up, I shouldn’t have to pay extra for the viewing not to be miserable. The worst people in the theater are not the film snobs. They are the ones sitting quietly. I never notice them. I did notice the inbred moron sitting beside me during Black Swan who loudly bellowed “HUH HUH HUH!” in response to anything sexual being said by anyone onscreen. The fact that he paid to see the film doesn’t give him the right to enjoy himself at my expense. It’s a public theater, not his living room. Why do you think the establishments always run “No talking or texting” ads in front of the film? The theaters themselves obviously do not consider these behaviors part of the experience, or the patron’s “right.” There’s no excuse for rudeness, and that includes the excuses you’ve tried to pass off.

    • Michael says:

      Actually, the worst people in cinemas are the narcissistic students who take three classes in foreign experimental cinema and still remain indifferent (if not clueless) to basic etiquette. When sharing an enclosed public space with other individuals who have PAID for the experience, it’s always best to observe simple, common decency and respect. You, sir are, indeed, the jackass cited above. You, sir, are exactly what is WRONG with attending movies. You, sir–well, um–suck.

    • chris says:

      yes, i can complain about other cinema goers. I’m not being snobbish doing so. I didn’t pay $9 to listen to some girl’s problem with her boyfriend or how the neighbor’s ruining christmas for everyone or whatever. As for a crying baby, no I shouldn’t pay them to leave. They should’ve found a sitter or stayed home. It’s the price you pay for being a parent.

      • I love all the support guys, you defend my argument better than I could have! It is great to see people feel the same as me, as I was pretty sure most film lovers did. Let me make this clear, the sandwich remark was more of a joke, however the rest wasn’t. I wrote this to be humorous as well as out of frustration.

        I will not stop seeing films in theatres, and I will certainly not watch films on my laptop as a alternative. The point is that we, as film lovers as well as the average film goer who is respectful, go to the cinema to leave our worries behind and get lost. This is not possible if someone is talking throughout the film, or texting.

        I do not purposely get annoyed because I feel I am a film snob, I am annoyed because they are ruining a possible great experience.

    • i believe you guys missed the point of my argument…while i agree that certain etiquette should be followed, complaining about other peoples food choises is actually quite mean. all eating in the cinema is annoying, not just foil sandwiches. and yet we tolerate some and not others just because its non-standard.

      i personally find texting quite annoying in films, but not enough to make one or two texters completly ruin my filmgoing experience. i request that they turn off their phones, that they leave, and if they refuse, i quietly move my self. there’s nothing wrong with that.

      as for the film student thing, of course that makes me a terrible person. that’s why i brought it up.

      I should be the worst of the film snobs who complain about the other people at the theater for not respecting the art on the screen. but i never do, because at the end of the day, weather or they disturb my theater experience matters to nothing. literally nothing. oh well, it sucked one time. next time it’ll likely be better, or it wont. i cant control other peoples actions. if other people fail to follow the desired etiquette, that makes them shitty. but complaining to the eather doesn’t really change any thing as it just preaches to the converted.

      film audiences have been ruining films for cinema lovers since the invention of the medium. that’s why there has always been the push to bring movies into the home.

      as for the reason for taking 3 classes on foreign experimental film. they’re they easiest to write essays on, because no one can really prove your argument wrong.

    • additionally, much like the sandwiches, the misanthrope thing was also a joke. clearly he is not that bad.

  13. Karl Otherzuber says:

    I’ve had to cut my theater experiences dramatically, in favor of home theater and waiting until the film is out on DVD. I prefer seeing these films in a theater, but I’m just so tired of people eating (and this includes the Alamo, where others eating is just as distracting as someone bringing in a bucket of KFC chicken), people talking to the characters on the screen (“Oh, no, girl! You are not going in there?!?”), and poor picture quality. I have a modest home theater system and I’m sort of used to seeing individual picture elements (pixels) from digital sources, but why should I go and pay good money to sit in the tenth row at a theater and see the same pixels? They’re even MORE obvious in the theater, since they’re an inch or two across. Say what you like…film had advantages.

    • Van McLean says:

      Where the hell are you going to see films that you see pixels? First of all, I believe you are talking about artifacts on your home system, which has to do with compression rates and not resolution or pixels. Get a Blu Ray player and a High Def TV and that should disappear. Second, In the theater anything you see shot digitally (if it’s a decent budget, like anything over a million) will be shot on a digital cinema camera, which has a higher “resolution” than 16mm film. Black Swan was shot on 16mm, a format Scorcese considered for Boardwalk Empire, but decided against it because the picture quality was too low for High def. The Epics (the Red Digital Cinema Cameras ) Peter jackson is using for Hobbit are 5k Resolution. That’s more than twice the resolution of the camera they used for Attack of The Clones. It was a crap storm of a film, but i guarantee you didn’t see “pixels” in it. Film is dead, and realistically has no advantages over true digital cinema cameras.

      • thompsound says:

        unless this particular cinema they were watching the film in had a crappy low quality digital PROJECTOR (like many of the arthouse cinemas in Brisbane, Australia).

        Film might be dead, but that doesn’t mean that the digital systems are flawless… yet.

      • sean says:

        Wow, really, you can’t see the pixels in digital projection? Wow, tell that you every movie I’ve ever seen digitally projected, would ya? Because they’re really obvious. I can actually spot it when the theatres switch.

        I agree it’s dead, but it’s ridiculously premature to claim that the picture quality is better.

        And, by the way, if you’re going to pretend to know what you’re talking about, you should know for future reference that there is a HUGE difference between 16mm and Super 16. I don’t even have to look anything up to know that ‘Black Swan’ was not shot on 16mm, and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ was not considering shooting on 16mm, because that truly is a dead format. The last movie shot on 16mm to be released theatrically was in 1994 and barely got released. It was called ‘Clerks’.

        If you have a source for that info, your source is wrong.

      • Van McLean says:

        Sorry. I meant super sixteen. And I do know the difference. Most filmmakers refer to super 16 as 16. It was my mistake to not clarify however.

        They did shoot black swan on super sixteen. Source: American Society of Cinematographers. http://www.theasc.com/ac_magazine/December2010/BlackSwan/page1.php

        They also did consider shooting Boardwalk on 16. I read about it in ICG but there’s also an ASC article on the subject.
        http://www.theasc.com/ac_magazine/September2010/BoardwalkEmpire/page1.php

        Also if you don’t believe most filmmakers refer to Super 16 as 16 here are quotes from the cinematographers.

        Libatique: “Darren likes 16mm because it’s small, he can do handheld, and he doesn’t have to wait around for camera setups. ”

        “Dryburgh reports that Scorsese briefly considered shooting on 16mm. “He’d seen Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna and liked the look of the 16mm material,” recalls the cinematographer. ”

        The “HUGE” difference you are talking about is only a difference in aspect ratio. Reg 16 is 4:3. S16mm is 16:9. Sure super has more horizontal “resolution”, but the vertical resolution is the same.

        By the way I doubt the sources are wrong since it’s the cinematographers themselves in trade journals.

    • I have to second the confusion of seeing pixels. I recently saw the new Harry Potter film and it was digitally projected and looked stunning! I love when a movie is shot on film as I really dislike the look of most digital films, that being said the new Red Epic cameras are going to produce some great looking films.
      The problem with many theatres is they project the film too dark, with the bulb as low as half which is a serious problem.

      • i agree as well. digital projection looks amazing usually. in the past, the projectors may have been occasionally prone to dithering, but in more recent models, the problem seems to be solved.

      • sean says:

        Actually, you’re wrong. The lower light of the bulbs makes digital video look better when projected than it should. It’s when it’s properly projected that you see pixels in any reasonably bright scene, because they can’t mask it yet. Darker stuff can look better, provided it was shot on a decent enough video to shoot good dark stuff (and, at this point, basically anything you’re seeing in a theater that was shot digitally was shot on a good camera).

      • You misunderstood me, I was talking about digital projection not digital video.

    • Van McLean says:

      Were you? Cause you brought your home theater into this. Do you project at home (’cause that would be awesome) ? The problem is still solved with Blu Ray (or any other hd source that can handle uncompressed or correctly compressed video ) and an HD Projector.

  14. samtheman says:

    After years of dealing with rude crowds and the fact that film theaters do not care to make sure my viewing experience is not ruined. i decided to stream movies and screw em out my hard earned money. All i could do for years before was ask for a refund on tickets or go to early showings, but why should i have to try and avoid the jerks? when they should be the ones trying to go to early shows so they can get away with being rude. Until theater chains bring back the ushers to manage all of us babies I am going to enjoy my free movies at home.

  15. Cranberry Sauce says:

    You sound like a whiny cunt. Get over yourself and learn how to write.

    • Dangler says:

      What a pitiful asshole you are. Don’t pollute interesting discussion threads with your smug and irrelevant put-downs.

  16. Allister Cooper says:

    The movies don’t suck, but the traffic does, and so do those annoying pendejos and chingas who ANSWER THEIR MOBILES. Even turning it on is so annoying as the bright lights from the display are somewhat irritating. Plus, in a cinema, shut the hell up. We didn’t pay to hear you speak. That’s all for now, folks.

  17. Kelly H. says:

    I agree. I become fully immersed in movies as well and can’t stand it when I see a cell phone come out or hear people chatting it up behind me. Do people really think the light from their cell phone isn’t visible? If you are so urgent to get in contact with someone, you shouldn’t be sitting in a theater.
    The talking problem I have come across in my city is older people who can’t hear what is being said so they ask the person next to them and their friend/spouse repeats the whole line over, quite loudly.
    Another horrific experience came when watching the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was the very first showing of the movie and a lady brought her two year old child in and let him cry for five minutes straight without really trying to stop him. It pissed off everyone. I understand parents need/want to see movies too, but there is a point when you need to consider everyone else’s movie-watching experience.

  18. EddyL says:

    The average movie goer now is a moron. They are guilty of all the things mentioned here and ruin the movie-going experience. They seem to think the world is their living room and even talk through the “PLEASE SHUT YOUR IGNORANT MOUTHS” sign that flashes before the film starts. Norma Desmond would not be pleased.

  19. Jeremy says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The sole reason I go to the theater these days is for the big picture (which can be ruined by a bad projectionist or ratty print), big sound (which can sometimes be either too loud or too soft), and the fact that 9 times out of 10 to see a new movie you have to go to the theater. If the home experience were able to replicate the theater experience I would never go to the theater again, and I blame that solely on obnoxious moviegoers.

  20. Robby says:

    I agree with you. I recently saw Black Swan and True Grit…I got lucky with those crowds. (Black Swan was the last showing on a Wednesday night and True Grit was the first showing on a Sunday morning, which may have played a part.) For some movies, I’ve found that being in a full theater can actually enhance my enjoyment of a film. These are generally movies made to please the general audience. I saw The Dark Knight the day after it was released in a full theater and the emotions the movie conveyed seemed to be emphasized by reactions of the audience, which made it quite enjoyable…which is not to say The Dark Knight wouldn’t have been enjoyable on it’s own.

    But then there are those times that remind me why I watch movies by myself most of the time. People asking questions when the answer is always, “Just watch, they’ll explain it later.” Or just general chatting and loudness…I’m even bothered by the consumption of popcorn in a theater, because, well…it’s a bit noisy. It crunches. Because of this, I tend to wait for DVDs and rent them. It depends on the movie, but I tend to lean towards the ones that aren’t served immediately with food and conversation.

  21. Mike says:

    As a 7th row center guy who likes to be immersed in a film, I’m terribly perturbed by the kind of thinking that follows that “well they paid their money too so they should be able to yell and scream and pee on the floors if they want”. Well, I paid my money and I want all of these talkers and phone answerers and mouth smacking mutants to shut the hell up…where is the respect for me? At the very least, can’t theaters add headphone jacks to the arm rests so you can plug in and ignore the assholes around you?

    • Rob says:

      I admittedly don’t get out to the movies as much as I should, but usually the most annoying habits are talking or providing a running commentary. I can’t say that I really get annoyed by people eating although constant rustling of plastic would rive me bonkers.

      But, that’s a great idea. I’ve found that most of the issues I might have with the theatre going population are auditory. I’m sure it’s cost prohibitive to add headphone jacks to existing theatres, but certainly they can be included in newer ones.

      Just don’t talk or yell in the theatre. Is that too much to ask?

      • sean says:

        “I’m sure it’s cost prohibitive to add headphone jacks to existing theatres,”

        If they were serious about it, I’m sure they could do something with wireless headphones, or possibly transmitting it to headsets attached to phones.

      • sean says:

        But, of course, as most people realize, wearing headphones doesn’t make people talk quieter. Quite the opposite.

    • sean says:

      “where is the respect for me? ”

      I don’t want to change my behavior for them, I expect them to change their behavior for me, even though I’m way in the minority (which even the guy who posted this admits).

      Yep, that makes sense. Good luck with that. I’ll be enjoying movies in spite of the fact that some people are annoying.

  22. Franks says:

    I will never go to the cinema again. I wait for the DVD and save myself the annoyance.

  23. TheUninvitedGuest says:

    I came to the same realization on Christmas Day at a showing of “The Fighter.” Two people in front of me constantly checked their phones throughout the entire film and one phone in the back of the theater went off. It took me right out of the film every single time.

    If you need to be visually stimulated at all times by a movie, you should only see movies like “Transformers.” The quieter, more thoughtful moments in movies which you think are a good time to check to see if you have any new text messages are precisely the moments that many moviegoers are most invested in the film. Anything that calls attention to yourself and away from the film, including bright flashes of light from your cell phone screen, has the potential to lessen the experience for everyone else.

  24. Tupple says:

    I’ve found that audiences talking during the movie is an excellent indicator that the movie itself sucks.

    • I completely disagree. While people will talk through everything, I often find it is through the more challenging material that people speak the most.

    • sean says:

      You’re close. For most people, it’s only the shitty movies that they’ll notice people talking, because they get too invested in the good ones to notice anything going on around them.

      Seriously, even a halfway decent movie like ‘Avatar’… the fire alarm went off, and nobody moved for two minutes until they turned the picture off, because they were invested in it.

  25. Ben says:

    I would classify myself as an average movie goer. I love movies but don’t analazye them the way some people do and for the most part I can ignore the talking. The one I did notice it was paranormal activity 2. I was working until 7:15 and the movie started at 7:30 so by the time I got there the place was packed so I decided to take the seat next to the teenage males (big mistake). They talked thoughout the movie saying the most painfully obvious things like “Look that thing is moving because of the demon.” “Hey there is the girl from the first one.” Someone told them to shut it down and they simply laughed. Paranormal Activity is a movie that you need to get sucked into and it was difficult in that case.

    That being said nothing will ever stop me from going to movies. It has been a huge part of my life and nothing will stop it not the people the prices or the movies (which I think still have very good quality.) Also I work at a cinema and I can’t tell you what yet but very soon you are going to see a change in policy in regards to talking and cell phone use so patience and it should improve a lot soon.

    • RunningSiren says:

      Agree Ben – I’ll never stop going to the movies – it is just not the same at home. I can ignore the talking unless it’s right in front of me, but the bright glow of mobile phones several rows away is something that cannot be ignored no matter how interesting the film is. Perhaps if more people spoke up to the offenders they’d stop.

  26. Manhaes says:

    You sir have made my day, in a support group kind of way. Rest assured it’s not an US-specific dilemma; on the contrary, here I’ve been thinking it was a problem with uneducated people down here in Brazil, only to find some solace in the realization it’s actually a widespread problem (and that it’s not just a matter of me being cranky). More and more I’ve been relying on having a proper home theater setup to make up for the loss of the actual big screen, as it’s become the territory of popcorn crunchers who don’t have the common decency of chewing with their mouths shut or whispering silently to their companions when they get the urge to speak all through the film, and don’t bother looking up what a given movie is about before jumping into the the theater to catch “whatever’s playing next”.

    Imagine sitting through “Let the right one in” with some girl behinf you freaking out because “there’s blood” on the film (it’s a damn vampire movie, not some watered down Twilight crap) or reaching the climax of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist with some lady hollering her outrage at the graphic scenes (did she think she was going in for some romantic comedy)?

    My living room will never replace the immersion of a dark room in front of a huge screen, but the multiplex screens aren’t that huge anymore, and my living room has much better attendance. Cheers.

  27. CB says:

    Thanks for writing this article! I have been a moviegoer for 30+ years. As you stated, there is nothing like going in and just getting totally absorbed into a movie for a couple hours. But, just as you have mentioned, it has become increasingly frustrating to try and enjoy a movie these days. The theaters don’t do enough!! They let people play with their cell phones and talk loudly about everything going on in their lives (while ignoring the movie). I am so saddened by the state of movie theaters today and the spinless management that sits back and does NOTHING. I have complained to managament about movies being ruined on me dozens of times over the past couple years. They offer me free passes to see the movie again… But that isn’t doing anything to SOLVE THE PROBLEM!
    Movie theater management needs to step up to the plate on this issue because it is getting worse and worse. There should be signs in the lobby stating “no cell phone use inside theaters” and “if you want to talk, go to a cafe!”
    Theaters need to keep an usher inside every movie (especially weekend evening showings) to make sure these rules are followed so the majority of customers who came to watch the movie can enjoy it.
    Theater managament needs to grow a pair…otherwise they can watch their receipts continue to decline as more and more people chose to watch movies at home so they can actually concentrate on the movie.
    That’s sad! Going to the movies should be a fun experience. Thanks to all the spineless managers and disrespectful people, going to the movies is losing it’s charm.

    • Ben says:

      In relation to your post as an usher we do tell people off but only if they tell us. We do checks every 30 mintues and unless they are being really loud or close to the front it can be hard to see them and it is hard to see the cell phone useage from the front. If people are annoyed then they need to tell us you may miss a mintute of your movie but at least the rest will be enjoyable. People often come to us after the movie complaining about people talking and by then there is nothing we can do.

  28. rgd199@yahoo.co.uk says:

    AUDIENCES HACK ME OFF. I once threatened a spotty teenager who answered his phone 3 times during the illusionist. This got a round of applause and cheers from the other audience members.

  29. Peter Bettany says:

    Ten dollars to keep out of the cold? Just how cold is it in America? Here in sunny England it’s about £12.50 a ticket – about double. I know because my daughter aged 8 wanted to go. US films are aimed at her age group. I fell asleep.
    Though to be honest if I had to sit in a film theatre and watch “Children’s TV Part 3” like your writer I’d be glad of a mobile telephone even if if did have to ask my daughter how to use it.

  30. Jonathan Heatt says:

    I was saying this a year ago:
    http://lasvegasheatt.blogspot.com/2009/11/movie-heresy.html

    I risk my freedom every time I see a movie because I’m always tempted to kick some annoying jerk’s behind for talking.

  31. Magnus says:

    While people do use their phones too much at theater, it doesn’t really hurt the experience that much to me anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to blocking that stuff out. If you go to the theater over 50 times a year (which I do), you learn how to just focus on the screen.

    Also, “art house” crowds aren’t innocent. Every time I’ve been to some indie theater, I still have to deal with people using their phones. They’re better at it than mainstream moviegoers, but they still do it.

  32. teh-ferret says:

    I have worked in a cinema for a number of years now and pretty much everything listed here (and in many of the comments) I completely agree with. Someone said earlier that staff in thier multiplexes didn’t care. This isn’t true, not in my experience, my collegues and I really do want the guests to enjoy themselves and the movies they see, especially for the money they have paid but in general we see so many of the same complaints it really does start to get on your nerves after a while; kids talking, babies crying, people texting and answering calls. We see it day in and day out but most people won’t listen until they are threatened with being removed from the screening. The best advice I can give, as it is generally what we do with crowds is a three warning system. It is easy to forget to turn your phone off so if one does get a text or a phone call, it’s not too unreasonable to allow them a very brief reply, or for a child to become unsettled. Should it happen again then ask them to stop and if it happens a third time, get a member of staff. As much as we would love to be present for the entirety of performances, generally speaking we can’t as we have other duties to attend to but we are more than happy to ask people to shut up, or to ask thier kids to behave on your behalf if we witness it. I have lost count of the times that people will leave a screening and tell a member of staff that a pair of kids talked through the whole movie. Yes, it’s annoying to have to leave a perfermance for a moment but surely being distracted for the whole thing is worse. Generally if such behaviour continues after a direct warning, we will remove these people. I love the movies and hate it when it is spoiled by ignorant people.

  33. If I may share a link with you, I feel your pain quite much. I wrote about it in my own blog, The Cinetarium, about talkers in movies. Bastards!

    http://cinetarium.blogspot.com/2010/12/philosophy-on-movie-going.html

  34. David Peck says:

    I have the luxury of being a six foot five inch, four hundred pound theater supervisor. That means that if I am working or not, I have no compunction about getting up and telling gabby patrons to shut off the phone, or telling folks with verbal squirts to either shut up or go home. It says on signs in the lobby that phones are not allowed, and many is the time I had to point to it as I was escorting someone out.

    The theater owner goes one step further and will take the phone out of someones hand and tell them they can retrieve it in the lobby after the film. If they complain and follow him he will give them their walking papers then and there.

  35. Zach says:

    Hey, just stumbled onto this article, but I completely agree with what you have said here. The first time I was really ever bothered by this was a few years ago, when I saw a movie in theaters with what I assume was a 12 year olds birthday party. Teens legit were running up and down the aisles yelling. Awesome experience there.

    In the past few years alone, I have been to numerous movies where people answer calls midway through. Yes texting is an issue, but I did not think people could be that inconsiderate that they would answer their phones during the movie and have a loud conversation.

    Just this past month I went to see Megamind, How Do You Know and Little Fockers (I only watch high caliber movies as you can tell.) During Megamind, a family of five snuck in mid way through, would not stop talking, and sang loudly along to Michael Jackson’s Bad as the credits rolled. During How Do You Know, a teenage couple sat in the back row and talked loudly throughout the movie, at one point making shadow puppets. Granted the movie might not have been good, but there is no excuse for that type of behavior.

    So glad to get that rant of my chest. Just wanted to say great article, and this is becoming a major issue within society today. Here is hoping that people learn to use manners when going to the movies in 2011.

    • sean says:

      well, yes, if you go to movies that only appeal to stupid people, you’re going to have to share the audience with a lot of stupid people. That’s just common sense.

      I stopped going to Pixar movies theatrically because the crowds of kids were too much to deal with. But they’re kids at a kids movie — it’s my fault for trying to go too. In the same way, don’t see stupid movies; the crowd will be full of stupid people.

  36. Abby says:

    I don’t go out to movies much (front projector + BD = I can wait for video), but when I do, I bring a cell phone jammer. No kidding. I turn it on when the on-screen advisement to turn off your cell phones comes up. Doesn’t stop people from compulsively turning the things on to check for messages, but they sure aren’t going to get or send any. And there’s no phone ringing, dammit.

  37. The Doctor says:

    About time..I used to be an avid cinema-goer..then tamed my friday night screenings down to the afternoon performance..which then got invaded by gum-chewing, mobile (cell) phone obsessed chavs..then stopped going altogether. That was until my flatmate dragged me along to see the golden compass(which is on non-sop screenings in hell). 20 minutes into the film, she got pissed of with the chattering 10 yr olds behind us, and with the voice of damnation from a tiny girl, turned and rose above them and screamed shut.the.fuck.up…blessed silence..take her every time now!
    However, with the prevalance of big ol’ tvs,home cinema sound systems, t’internet piracy and your own big comfy chair,its tempting to watch movies at home. but even with me enourmous flatscreen et al, it doesnt match the magic of going to “the pictures” as we say in blighty. were just gettin old n grumpy

  38. huck says:

    multiplex viewing experiences are the equivalent of shopping at Walmart.
    Ever seen peopleofwalmart.com?
    Now you know who sits next to you in the dark, smacking their lips, crinkling their foil and pushing buttons on their tiny glowing phones.
    You also now know why most movies that PLAY in multiplexes are for the birds. Because they are made for that audience – who have the attention span of birds.
    You said it yourself – arthouse viewing is generally devoid of these negative experiences. That’s because people with good taste generally have accompanying good manners (not to mention higher intelligence and better hygiene).

  39. Jared Goldstein says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I just went to Tron last night and there was a man with his 2 year old sitting next to me in the aisle. Yes, sitting in the aisle blocking everybody who had to get up and down the stairs. Not to mention his kid wouldn’t stop babbling! Don’t bring young children to movies when they don’t even watch/appreciate the film. Also, I saw Black Swan last week and two teenage girls behind me were laughing throughout the entire film. It’s hard to go see movies these days….

  40. puker says:

    i can usually vomit at will. i’ve vomited on teenage girls before, as i left the theater. yes, i really have. or, since they’ve already ruined my experience, i accidentally spill my popcorn / sprite on them, yes i really have. i just don’t give a shit about anyone who doesn’t give a shit.

  41. Marty says:

    I concur totally. Only yesterday I was at a local independent cineplex in a higher-end mall here in St. Louis to see “Black Swan.” Not only did I have to endure the 2 middle-aged women in front of me who were audibly and olfactorily drunk, the man behind me had escaped from the TB ward and coughed on my neck repeatedly, then the late-arriving man who sat in the empty seat next to me proceeded to text someone, it can be assumed, to let them know about the hot girl-on-girl action he was witnessing on the big screen. Pervert.
    Going to the movies often reminds me of Sartre’s oft-quoted “No Exit”: “Hell is other people.”

  42. Melissa says:

    The last time I went to the cinema, the guy in he row ahead of me was watching TV on his phone during the movie. Couldn’t he have done that at home for free? Or at least in the food court?

  43. dfgsdgf says:

    Ah, so you learned the horrific secret of the old fogey movie-goers, have you? Yes, the 55+ crowd is 10x more likely to ruin your theatrical experience than any mob of teenagers. And it is for this reason: they don’t shut the hell up when you tell them to. With punk kids, you ask them to be quiet, they give you lip, then they posture and giggle for another half minute or so, but then they often shut up. The hags? Forget it. They won’t even acknowledge you, they’ll just keep on jabbering on about Martha and Judy and last Sunday’s bridge game. If you have to choose, sit near the punk kids.

    Second, I find the best place to sit is the back row, all the way to either side. For one thing, you can’t get anyone behind you (and sound obviously travels forward), and people tend to avoid that area, so it’s good. Plus, since you’re so far back, it doesn’t matter that you’re off to the side. You won’t even notice.

    My worst experience involved me politely asking a dude to keep it down when he was carrying on a conversation with two chicks in some language that wasn’t English or French. His response to me was immediate: “If you don’t like it, go sit somewhere else.” My response was also immediate…okay, it involved yelling and swearing. And it got him and one of his concubines to exit the theatre and return three minutes later with the manager; they had tattled on me. Anyway, in the end, the manager talked to them for like five minutes, then when they returned to their seats, I don’t think they even breathed.

    The texting is annoying too, and I’m still trying to come up with a defense against that. It seems too trivial to actually confront someone about.

    Also annoying, the chair kicking. That’ll get you a head kicking from moi.

  44. Charles says:

    It’s interesting that you write about the American. That was the first movie I had ever seen where I was completely alone in the theater. The film itself is so quiet that I found myself sitting perfectly still to avoid making a sound. It would have been a radically different experience with even a few other people in the theater with me.

    I saw Revenge of the Sith on opening day. People were flipping their phones open during the climax. We’ve waited almost 30 years for this, people! What the heck are you thinking?

  45. laurel says:

    instead of going to the earliest show possible, try going to the latest show possible. i find that people at the late shows are people that actually want to see the movie. teens have curfews. old people have bedtimes. and not many people say, ‘hey! are you free around midnight on tuesday to catch a movie?’ i go to a second run theater on dollar night and i always go to the latest showing. i can usually count the number of people in the theater on one hand. a friend wanted to tag along and convinced me to go to the regular 7pm showing and it was like i was in a different world… noisy, crowded, and completely impossible to enjoy. same theater, same movie, three hours later, none of that. night people that go to movies are actually there to see the movie. anyway, just a thought.

  46. T.K. says:

    You should just stay home and watch youtube instead. It is a lot more fun than seeing crappy, mainstream movies.

  47. Dave says:

    Haven’t been to a movie theatre in over 6 years now – darn San Diego audiences.

    What’s worse though, I even avoid going to the the theatre nowadays – San Diego audiences are happy to chat away during live performances too. Heck, back in Chicago they’d’ve got themselves lynched!

  48. K_ says:

    dont remember which country i was visiting, they had a movie goers club withing their multiplex.
    that would be a good idea where they secure a weekly screening for the more serious film fans. if someone constantly creates distractions his membership would be provoked.
    i would pay a premium for that.

  49. Scott M. G. says:

    I’m in my 30s and took my parents to see King Arthur on a Saturday matinee either the first or 2nd weekend it was out. The guy and girl behind me conversed almost the entire movie, her in English, him in Spanish. I shhh’d them a couple times and turned around once or twice. When the movie was over and we were standing to leave, I looked right at them and said, “Gee, I hope you’re available to come with us to the movies next weekend and talk thru the whole movie again.” To which he let loose with several, “F- you man”s and tried to goad me into fighting. He was short, tatted up and wearing a wifebeater and thought he was tough sh*t. I just looked at my folks and then back at him, shook my head and said, “You’re not worth it. But you set such a great example for your girlfriend.” Then we walked out. If I had been there with some buddies instead of my folks, we might have taken him up on his desire to fight, just to teach him a lesson.

  50. Dan says:

    I hate going to the movies today due to the prices, (why does it need to be $20?) quality and the abject stupidity by the audiences. People are bad enough when they are wasting money on shit like Yogi Bear, Tangled or anything by Kate Hudson, but to spend money on admission and food and then play with their fucking cell for two hours- fuck off and die, seriously. How stupid has this society become that it can not put its toys down for two hours and enjoy something far more entertaining…. Quality today is an issue, but until we smarten up, Yogi Bear will continue to make money while “Legends of the Guardian” tanks.

  51. Gary says:

    Daniel, I agree with almost every point you make about the audience members in some showings. Luckily I’ve hit upon a way to make sure I don’t put up with a lot of that crap. I tend to do in the middle of the week. Typically the local Carmike has “Stimulus Tuesday” where they have really small portions of drink and pop corn for $1 each (I typically get two small popcorn and a large drink (around $6, I think) and see the film. I do check my messages from time to time. However being a theatrical tech I always silence the phone, and either hold the phone close to me when I check as to not let everyone know I have a message, or as low as I can hold it to check. If someone calls, I call them after the show, or leave the theater to call them.

    One of the big problems is that a lot of people think that they are paying for their enjoyment, and since they paid they can behave as they wish. Most theaters don’t give a damn anymore, as they have yours and their monies. Those same people also think that just because they paid, they can act as if they do in their own living rooms, and don’t give a damn about anyone else. As someone earlier said, the best place to see movies is at film festivals. You get to see some that are big releases, some that are local releases, and some that well just frankly suck. However you get to see it with people who love the art of making film. Also, if you have a movie in a festival it’s a nice feeling to hear people applaud your movie.

    However if you think that movie audience members are bad, you should see what happens at a live theatrical performance and someone does crap. If your mobile rings, you not only annoy the rest of the viewers, but as well as gain the ire of the actors on stage. Take a pic with a camera, and you could get escorted out by ushers or if your unlucky you get a theatrical tech who is in a bad mood to ask you to leave. Show up late, and you might not get in to see the show, as the performance is already on, and opening the doors causes the audience and the performers to know that someone showed up late, and not to mention that you may lose your seats in the show is at or near a sell out.

    • earthjournal says:

      I agree with the comments about problems with texting and cell phone use in movie theatres. I feel so frustrated that my enjoyment of Black Swan was diminished by several cell phone users who brought out their cell phones during the movie. (And it was the last showing here on a Tuesday night; the last showing does not appear to offer any protection against rude, inconsiderate movie goers.) Like others commenting here, I also go to the movies to become immersed in the emotion and story. However, the bright light of a cell phone in a totally dark theatre is extremely distracting and pulls my attention away from the film. I found this very disappointing as I was really looking forward to the film. I’m thinking of handing out a copy of the article we’re commenting on here (“A Difficult Conversion Or Why Going To The Movies Kind of Sucks”) or even an article I found on texting as douchebag behavior (http://www.thedoucheguide.com/2009/09/20-texting-during-movies.html) to the next offender. I won’t give up on going to movies, but I am going to speak up more.

  52. Ertzi says:

    When I read the original article, I was overjoyed. I thought: “these are my people”.

    I live in Finland, and even though the audiences are generally quite small in my not-too-big-of-a town, unfortunately even then some motherfucker is almost always there trying to ruin the movie for me.

    After The Prestige was completely ruined for me by a gang of phone-wielding teens, I became so jaded that I rarely go to movies anymore, and even then I only see huge blockbusters, which in my opinion suffer less if there are distractions. The films that I suspect involve thinking or immersive feelings I now watch alone at home at night with headphones. I don’t even let my girlfriend be in the same room to distract me.

    Now, I admit I am a perfectionist when it comes to movies, but some common courtesy should be expected from every moviegoer. I can tolerate eating sounds, as they have been around forever, but some things just piss me the fuck off. Like kicking the chair in front of you. Why would you do that? I understand the occasional hit, when one is shifting in one’s chair, but I have sat through a movie several times where the person behind me kicked my back the entire goddamn film. The only possible reason for that is wanting to be an asshole. I mean, the audience member can clearly see me sitting in the chair. I’m not invisible or anything. I do wish I were more open to confrontations, though, so I could at least knock those people the fuck off. Alas, I’m too polite to cause a scene and thus suffer in silence.

    We humans also have something called peripheral vision, which makes it doubly more irritating when there are cell phones present. They can be very far from where I’m sitting, but I can still make out the infuriating glow in my field of vision, and my experience is made worse immediately, because I get angry at inconsiderate people.

    One time a member of the staff even left a door open, behind which was a blinding light that ruined the rest of that particular movie. I will not move to close a door, as I expect some common sense from the staff. Also, perfectionist. I got a pair of free tickets after complaining, but you can only see a movie for the first time once, and the enjoyable experience would have been much more valuable to me. The biggest lack of respect toward other audience members that I have seen, however, was a laptop. That blue glow still haunts me. I was too stunned to even act on it at the time.

    People today have way too little respect for others, which is evident in movie theaters as well. I for one would pay significantly more for a ticket that would guarantee a better experience by aggressively removing distracting factors. This is up to theater owners. In the mean time, I just do not go to movies anymore.

  53. piratedeb1@cox.net says:

    WOW! I learned SO much just from reading the blog and replies! Thanks!
    Just an OLD newbie!

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