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Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012

Dave!I used to love going to the movies.

I rarely go anymore.

Roger Ebert recently wrote an editorial commentary called "I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping..." In it, he dissects why people aren't going out to the theater anymore. I thought I'd go through point by point to figure out where I fit in.

  • Absence of a must-see mass-market movies. Meh. Sure I like the mass-market popcorn movies, but I'm just as entertained by smaller independent films.
  • Ticket prices are too high. Meh. I honestly don't mind paying a premium to see a movie in the theater on a big screen with great sound.
  • Refreshment prices. Meh. I don't buy refreshments very often because a movie usually follows going out to dinner and I'm not hungry enough to eat again.
  • Lack of choice. Meh. There's pretty much always something out there I'd like to see.
  • Competition from other forms of delivery. Meh. I'd just as soon get out of the house and see a movie when it's released than wait and watch at home.
  • The theater experience. BINGO! This is the one true reason I fucking HATE going to the theater: other people show up. And they're usually rude assholes that make going to a theater a horrible, horrible experience.

I remember several years ago... like ten years... maybe more like eight years ago... I was on a movie date watching Spider-Man 2. About 20 minutes in, some idiot's mobile phone goes off... and he answers it. My date dug into my arm with her nails because she knew this is exactly the kind of situation that causes me to go off. But somebody else beat me to it. "HOPE THE MOVIE ISN'T DISTURBING YOUR PHONE CALL, BUDDY!" he yelled. The man who took the call screamed back "MY WIFE WENT INTO THE HOSPITAL THIS MORNING, SO I HAVE TO TAKE THE CALL YOU ASSHOLE!" At this point I couldn't take it any longer and screamed "YOUR WIFE IS IN THE HOSPITAL AND YOU'RE AT A MOVIE THEATER? WHAT A DICK!" This cause the crowd to start applauding and the idiot with the phone left never to return.

It was at that point I realized that movie theaters were doomed.

Moviegoers have always had to deal with people who talk during the film and smack their popcorn and kick the seats, but mobile phones? This was a disaster. Who the heck is going to want to pay a stack of money for movie and overpriced refreshments if they're going to have to listen to people talk on the phone while they're trying to watch a film? Hell, escaping from having to listen to people on their phones is one of the best reasons to go to the theater!

Clearly movie theater companies would have to do something about this.

But other than those lame "turn off your mobile phone" messages that are flashed for a second after the previews, they don't seem to give a crap.

And now it's even worse because people are texting during the movie. Theater companies seem to care even less about texters because they "aren't disturbing anybody." Except they ARE. All those glowing screens are a huge fucking distraction when you're trying to watch the film...

DaveToon: Theaters Suck with Phone Glows

Though SOME theaters have the right idea about that...

...but most don't.

And since I don't have an Alamo Drafthouse nearby to kick the rude assholes out of the theater, I just stopped going. Now the only time I'll go is when it's a movie I'm just dying to see... and even then I usually go to mid-day showings and wait for as long as I can so the crowds will have died down.

So attention theater companies: Stop your whining about falling revenue.

Because if you really wanted to lure me back as a customer, you'd start doing your part to make it a worthwhile experience. Which means kicking out the talkers, seat kickers, phone callers, and texters so people can actually enjoy watching the movie they paid to see.

Until that happens, I'd rather watch a movie on my iPhone than in your stupid, annoying theater, even though David Lynch will eat my soul...

Maybe I won't be "experiencing the movie" but at least I won't be "experiencing movie theater hell."

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Categories: Movies 2012Click To It: Permalink


  1. apricoco says:

    Recently my husband and I went to go see a ‘blockbuster’ movie. We got there a half-hour early and I headed straight to the theater to get good seats. I have issues with my vision so I kind of need to sit in the middle so that I can see without having to close one of my eyes throughout the movie. I was there first, got great seats, all was good. Theater starts filling up and there happens to be seats on either side of us open. During the beginning of the movie, this guy comes up and asks me to scoot over so that his elderly mom and wife can have the extra seats. I begrudgingly do. The wife sits down next to me and immediately pulls her mother-fucking cell phone and starts to check it/text/whatever. I’m losing my mind! Five mins of this bullshit pass and she finally looks over at me during a key scene and asks me “what movie is this”…. It was all I could do not strangle her right then.

  2. Iron Fist says:

    It’s the people who decide they need to have a conversation around me that irritate me the most. Holy crap, need to decide what to do after the movie? If you didn’t already have that figured out before you came to the theater, guess what? You’ve got plenty of time to do so once the credits roll and everyone is emptying out.

  3. Sybil Law says:

    PEOPLE are ruining everything!

  4. What ever happened to the idea of cell phone dampers being used in theaters? I know that some places use them, but I thought several theater chains were also using them to keep people from ruining the theater experience for others?

  5. claire says:

    There’s not much I care about seeing in the theater anymore. I went to the last Harry Potter last year since I thought it’d be good to see on the big screen (it was), but that was it.

    And there are no truly big screens here (was so annoyed when a new theater finally opened only to have smaller screens, no parking, and higher prices- no thanks!). Takes about an hour to drive to a large screen which I do on occasion.

    Hate the talkers/texters/etc. Also don’t care for how loud movies are now. I take ear plugs when I remember (it does also help muffle the jerks) but I wish it weren’t necessary. I also stick to matinees though I try for during the week after they open so they’ll still be on the biggest screen.

    There are a few movies I’m looking forward to this year, so hopefully the theater experience won’t totally suck.

  6. J.P. says:

    I would pay a premium surcharge per ticket to watch a movie in a theater that squelched all cell phone signals. Don’t give me the BS about having to be reached in an emergency; people handled it for decades before cell phones were around. The premium surcharge for this sanity would keep the rude assholes out because they’re usually too cheap to pay a premium surcharge and they would feel too disconnected from their online life to sit in a technology free zone for two hours.

  7. Marc says:

    It must be years since I last went to a theater. The last visits were so annoying that I now wait for DVD releases or on-demand availability on cable. It’s not only less annoying without the ignorant and rude idiots around but also considerably cheaper. Except for missing out on the large screen experience it’s definitely a win-win situation.

  8. Michelle M. says:

    Sybil Law stole my comment.

  9. Avitable says:

    I don’t have a problem with texters. My attention is drawn to the screen and with the exception of one person sitting directly in front of me who was playing a video game on his phone, I’ve never had the displays from other people’s phones disrupt my movie experience.

    I have asked numerous people to be quiet or leave the theater, sometimes politely, sometimes not so much, and they’ve all obliged. I still refuse to go to the movies on a Friday/Saturday night, though, because there would be too many assholes.

  10. Stacey says:

    I can’t deal with the other people in the movie theater. They completely ruin the experience for me, to the point where I become enraged just THINKING about going to the movies. My husband now goes to see movies on the weekends he’s away. It’s easier than trying to prevent me from kicking some asshole in the head.

  11. bo says:

    I just sit in the theater and think, “Would I invite all these people to my living room?” The answer is obvious, which is why I don’t go to the big theaters.

  12. Rita says:

    Just a couple of weeks ago I went to The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, and in the middle of the movie the guy in the seat next to me pulls out his phone and started texted. I was so pissed!!
    And then he had to get up more than once and walk in front of me, and then his girlfriend had to get up. All they did was go and get more crap to eat. They couldn’t just wait, or maybe get all the junk food before the movie started. I just wanted to trip them both and laugh as they fell!!

  13. martymankins says:

    The theater my wife and I go to is hardly attended on Sunday afternoons, so we never have to deal with any rude people because out of 5 people for the showing, 2 are her and I. Odds reduced.

    But I agree there are rude assholes who don’t give a shit about others around them. Of course, the policing that the theater staff would have to do could be a distraction in of itself.

    Alamo houses needed in all states.

  14. the muskrat says:

    I used to go to movies a lot–like, several times a month–before I got married and overpopulated Atlanta with my spawn. But you know when I went? During the day. I’d leave work early if a film came out I wanted to see, and I’d go alone when no one was there.

    Also, and I’m sure I’m not supposed to say this, but I’d try to go where black teenagers weren’t going. I made the mistake once of seeing The Sixth Sense at a theater where, apparently, all the black high school kids like to go at night, and it was AWFUL. Talking on phones, to each other, and to the screen the entire film. Awful awful awful.
    I know all teens are inconsiderate little shits (especially with their phones), but my experience is that some races of teens are worse than others.

    Of course, the documentaries I usually see at the local “art house” theater are unlikely to have teenagers in them anyway.

  15. Ren says:

    I don’t think it’s been too big a problem around here, but in addition to Alamo Drafthouse, we also have a couple of premium theaters with food service, spread out, reclining seats and other niceties. I’ve only been to those a handful of times, so I can’t really give much of a statistical analysis, but my impression is that attendees are significantly less likely to be annoying. The food service could be annoying, but the seats are spread out enough that it didn’t seem to be an issue. The Alamo, on the other hand, does have a bit of an issue with this. The servers definitely attempt to be non-intrusive, but you still notice them. Also, some of the food is pretty noisy to deal with. Luckily, most people are done eating within the first third of the movie or so.

  16. RIGHT. Between the bloody cell phone usage, talking, and arsewipes kicking the back of my seat, I’d much rather watch the movie in the confort of my own home.

    But it’s not only that, these days I’m becoming really cheap in my old age. We took the little one to see Tintin last weekend and between the cost of 3 tickets and then popcorn & drinks it was over $50. Movie was good, but not $50 good.

  17. That voice mail posting made my day. I’ve listened to it a few times and e-mailed it to friends. God, I love it when idiots make your case for you. 🙂

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