Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Movie theater etiquette

This is me ranting about the little things in movie theaters that PISS ME OFF!!!

It’s not enough to just turn your cellphone on silent . PUT IT THE FUCK AWAY. Don’t look at it during the movie. It’s like someone turning on a flashlight in a dark room. It’s distracting. Don’t do it! And don’t text message.

Don’t bring a baby. EVER. Can’t get a sitter? STAY HOME. I also blame theater owners for this one. Don’t allow babies. A young cretin couple brings their one year old to see HOSTEL and you sell them tickets, you should be the one dipped in a boiling vat of canola oil.

Don’t wear a hat. Unless you’re Diana Ross or Don King. This goes for baseball caps. Just because you’re balding doesn’t mean you can annoy other people.

In a fairly empty theater don’t take a seat right in front of me. Especially when there are twenty seats on either side you could choose instead.

Realize when you buy those nachos with the plastic cheese sauce that you are repulsing everyone within two rows.

Put your sweater on or keep it off. Don’t keep changing your mind during the film.

Don’t throw your big honking coat over the back of your seat so that it’s completely in my lap.

Don’t yell, “Turn it up!” during the THX announcement. It’s not funny… and hasn’t been funny for ten years.

If you’re still yelling “Focus!” in the middle of the movie, it’s YOU!

Don’t save fifteen seats for your stupid late friends.

Never ask me to move over a seat so it’s more convenient for your party of six.

When you come in late and the movie has already started, don’t yell the name of your friend…over …and over…and over.

Scream in your boyfriend’s ear, not mine.

When you drape your feet over the row in front of you, you are kicking the seats of everyone in that row.

Don’t pay for one Goddamn box of Milk Duds with a credit card.

Don’t talk back to the screen. This may come as a shock to your morons but THE ACTORS CAN’T HEAR YOU.

I’m sure you have others. Have at it in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

Dear, Obese A-hole working behind the counter, I know you're trained to say it, but don't care. No, I don't want to make it a large diet soda for only 35 cents more. If I did, there would be an easy way for you to know that. I would have said, "give me a Large Diet Soda."

Anonymous said...

If you suspect you're a moron, stay away from the movie theater. It's not your haven for all your acts. And no, I'm not moving from the middle of the row before the floor rows that has a wall or poles that I can rest my feet on. I'm in the middle to be in the middle. You should have gotten here earlier.

Cap'n Bob said...

Don't kick the back of my seat unless you want me to kick the front of your pants.

Kids, don't get up every fifteen minutes to run to the lobby en masse, whispering loudly to your friends the entire way.

Don't bring your deaf spouse and repeat every word of dialogue in his or her ear during the show.

Don't sit near me, and don't let me hear your noise no matter where you sit.

Ian said...

Amen to everything you said, Ken, with the possible exception of using a credit card at the concession stand, because you should NEVER BUY ANYTHING at the concession stand. I don't care if theater operators depend on concession stand sales for half their profit... no one should ever pay five bucks for a plastic tray of stale corn chips and some yellow, liquid vinyl topping.

Greg said...

Be on time...once the credits roll, you are late, and being rude.

Please no clapping, it is an inanimate object. If the cast and crew are present, this rule does not apply.

Anonymous said...

I have a good idea: just wait a few weeks, the DVD comes out and you watch it in the comfort of your own home. Or better yet ... PPV on DirecTV to your TIVO and if the movie is good (which few are), you can watch it again and again...for only a couple of bucks!

RevJen said...

Close your damned mouth when you chomp on the big tub of popcorn that you've chosen to eat right behind me. It smells bad enough; I don't need to hear every disgusting chew.

And yes, I am the annoying person who turns around and glares at you when you talk. After the third glare, I might say "shhh." After the fifth, I might say "Shut UP!" After the seventh or eighth, it'll be "This is not your living room. Will you please shut up?" Then I'll put a quarter in the jar because Mom taught me it was rude to say "shut up." I think it's ruder to talk at a movie.

I will try to do this as quietly as possible so as to annoy as few other people as possible. My apologies if it's not working.

Bill said...

If moving the straw in your drink rubs up against the plastic lid to create an incredibly irritating sound, take the lid off.

Maybe I'm just tall, but with stadium seating, I don't see the problem with a hat. As long as it's not a giant pope hat or anything.

Anonymous said...

Please shower first... B.O. can really ruin a good movie!

Unknown said...

Hey, clean-up crew. Do NOT tear through the area around me as I am attempting to view the closing credits. Do not exclaim to your pals twenty rows away, "Where ya going after work?"

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well I wouldn't have paid for the box of Milk Duds with my credit card if it didn't cost 20 bucks for the freakin' box!

In reality I'm one of those pathetic people who watch the (permanently on leave) Ebert & Roeper, think to myself, "Oh that looks good" and then next thing I know it's on HBO where I record it on TIVO and don't watch it for a another 6 months until I'm running out of space and delete it. (The 40 Year-Old Virgin is about to suffer that fate.)

Thanks for making me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Mine is "You're not in your living room. Shut the hell up!"

Also, stop running such lousy movies!

Of course, it's not just movies. At the opera, the man next to me kept making all sorts of noises every 30 minutes. It was, first, flipping over the casette he was illegally recording the opera onto, and then next, changing the casette. I had a word with the usher at intermission, and his recorder wasn't a problem during act two, since it, and he, were 86ed.

I've taken to going only to matinees (Cheaper too) and never seeing a film until it's second week. With any luck, I'll be alone in the audience.

Stephen Gallagher said...

If you've seen the movie before, don't keep alerting your companion to what you think are the upcoming good parts.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with most everything here, mostly it comes down to mtuual respect and thoughtfullness. Don't stand in line, ahead of me, get to the head of the line and try adn figure out which film to see.

But honestly, the reason we go to movies (at least me) is the big screen, but also the sharing of the experience with many people. Telling someone they aren't in their living room is a good line, but remember they AREN'T in YOUR living room either! They are in a public place, and a certain amount of leeway must be given.

You will never experience everyone filing in in silence, buying only "you-approved" snacks, not wearing hats, nor draping coats, etc. Ain't gonna happen, and if that is YOUR goal, you are just going to get more and more dissapointed.
Personally, I settle for being able to hear the lines, not be distracted, not getting the seat kicked too much. I do speak up when someone is too loud, etc. But I have raised my expectations to reasonably be able to get near the ideal.

Anonymous said...

I recall a couple in front of me standing and stretching for a good thirty seconds during a crucial scene. If you have back issues stay home.

The obnoxious laughing guy during the barely funny scene. You are the only one in the theater laughing. Why? Did you write it or something? Turret's Syndrome, perhaps?

The Performance Usher- You are there to help old people find empty seats and you couldn't cut it on the fry-a-later over at McDonald's. No one wants to hear you work out your lame stand-up material. Pipe down already!

Anonymous said...

Elvis had the right idea... Rent a theatre for a 3:00 am private showing of whatever movie he wanted to see with his friends and posse, so he didn't have to put up with all that crap... Of course on the other hand, probably most of his friends and posse were having sex while the move was playing... Wonder how much noise that generated?.... Well, at least he didn't have to deal wih cell phones going off... Only with lovers going off...

Anonymous said...

You people really still go to movie theaters?

rclz said...

I go for the big screen. I like the big screen and I like the big sound. :) Other than that it's Netflix!

I found a long time ago that if I go to the very first showing on a Saturday morning that I actually have to put up with few people, even in the first week. Only people who really want to go to a movie generally show up at 10 or 11 on a Saturday morning. Plus it's cheaper.

The only time this doesen't work is if it's a very popular kiddie show and I stopped having to go to those 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I actually broke up with someone because I discovered he was a movie talker. I spoke to him about it and he claimed that the other patrons were "amused by his hilarious comments." Are you kidding me?! I barely knew how to respond to such idiocy.

Anonymous said...

People don't know how to behave themselves in public anymore. There needs to be a chain of theatres just for people who have completed a class in basic etiquette and personal hygiene.

The movie going experience would also be better if the movies started on time, and if the previews never included Rob Schneider.

Gerard said...

"[H]e claimed that the other patrons were 'amused by his hilarious comments'."

It sounds like MST3K Syndrome to me, where occasionally funny people think that the sarcastic comments that they make are just as good as the stuff that Joel/Mike and the 'bots did on "Mystery Science Theater 3000", and everybody loved them...

I loved that show, but damn if they don't bear some responsibility for a legion of lame-ass wannabee that have ruined many a movie experience.

Anonymous said...

Back at the dawn of time, which was somewhere in the late 1950's, we behaved ourselves in movie theaters not because people were politer then, or in some way morally superior to theater goers of today, but for the simple reason that if we misbehaved, we got booted out. So here's a suggestion for the movie theater owners: how about hiring a damn usher, and giving them the power to actually kick out disruptive bozos?

This doesn't solve the problem of sitting behind the Neanderthal who's chewing popcorn with his mouth open, but it's a start.

Anonymous said...

Please Pee BEFORE the movie. If your bladder can't hold out for 2 hours then please stay home or atleast have the sense to sit on the isle.

Rule for buying a drink at the movies. DO NOT start to drink until at least 15 mins into the movie. This ensures that bathroom emergencies will not occur during the film

Anonymous said...

//Dear, Obese A-hole working behind the counter, I know you're trained to say it, but don't care. No, I don't want to make it a large diet soda for only 35 cents more. If I did, there would be an easy way for you to know that. I would have said, "give me a Large Diet Soda."//

Speaking as a former concession stand employee, I once got in severe trouble from my managers for *not* asking if someone wanted to upsize their drink. I was told that if I continued to not suggest an upgrade, I would be fired. So, we don't like saying it any more than you like hearing it, but what else can we do?

Also, to all concession stand customers: Stop paying for a single four-dollar item with a twenty, stop whining that the small popcorn you ordered is "so tiny", and for the love of GOD, decide what you want to buy BEFORE you get to the front of the line, instead of holding up everybody behind you for ten minutes while you look through our menu.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to a movie theater in years, and those are the reasons why. My home theater is much MUCH better.

Demosthenes said...

Dear "lawl, why go to the theatre" responders:
Consider straight-to-video movies. Consider them carefully. Now imagine that all movies are like that, because all movies are straight-to-video. Horrifying, no?

So get your carcass out to the theatre now and then. The medium isn't supposed to be just expensively produced, long-form television. It'd do you good to watch a movie as an actual, well, movie now and then.

christina said...

Stop with the incessant predictions!!!!! You're wrong 99.8% of the time anyway, and for the .2% of the time that you're right, no one is going to yell, "Stop the movie!" and beg you to fill out an application to join MENSA.

VP81955 said...

If you're a really tall man or woman (6' or over), attempt to find a seat fairly far back in the auditorium, making sure that where you sit, no one in your line of sight is directly behind you. (This rule can be waived in places with stadium seating.)

And to all: respect the people who made the movie (even if what you see shows they don't deserve it) by keeping comments to a minimum while the film is in progress. It's just common courtesy.

Anonymous said...

Dear, 38 year old hot blonde woman sitting next to me. Don't sigh loudly when our arms touch on the armrest. Don't act all annoyed and threaten to call the manager when I touch you on your knee... AND STOP yelling for security every time some nice guy wants to follow you in the parking lot! Going to the movies these days sucks!

Jim Endecott said...

I am a magnet for these kinds of people. I can get seats far away from everyone and any one of the jerk off's listed above will sit right front/behind me and pull shit shit.

My favorite is waiting until the opening scene to open the celophane twizller wraper. Son of a bitch open those fuckers up during the trailers.


Cap'n Bob said...

My standard comment to movie yakkers is, "Do you plan to talk through the entire movie?" They usually shut up. If they get wise and say yes, I tell them to sit somewhere else or I'll have them thrown out. That normally does the trick.

I once saw a very large man swat some fool in the back of the head. When the fool turned around the large guy said, "I came to hear the movie, not you." I would have cheered, but it seemed counterproductive.

Sadly, what a few people here said is right. Too many jerks don't know how to act in public.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I never knew you were such an old fuddy-duddy, Ken. Perhaps you're the one who should stay home if you won't even be nice enough to move down a seat to help someone else.

Anonymous said...

Last week, I went to see STARDUST with my friend at an early showing. The theater was more than half empty. This woman came into the dark theater, sat down in the row in front of us, one seat to my left & immediately opened her cell phone. Since I didn't appreciate the bright glare, I asked her to either close the phone or move it out of my line of vision. Her answer:"The movie hasn't started yet". If people are that much in need of contact with others, why don't they try getting their friends to accompany them?

Anonymous said...

What about when you enter the theater and there are three of you & no seats together because people are saving seats next to them so no one sits near them!

Me and my children use to have to sit on the floor in the back of the theater!

Cage Free Brown said...

I saw a Twilight Zone like this once. be careful what you wish for or you'll be watching movies in a theatre full of Shelly Bermans and who wants that?

Anonymous said...

Noise makers. Like the person who waits for the start of the feature film to unwrap his candy. Sits through a bunch of commercials and trailers; nothing. Sits through the opening credits; nothing. Dialogue begins - rustle, rustle as the Twizzlers get unwrapped.

Or The Shaker: Gives the popcorn or beverage cup a shake during the silence that follows a shock in the movie.

Jack Ruttan said...

I always wondered, why do they package movie snacks in cellophane, anyhow? Wouldn't something quieter work just as well?

Anonymous said...

I am over 6 feet tall and shant be directed to the back of the theatre. Bring a phonebook, shorty.

Blondie said...


Anonymous said...

I thought it was just me that became obsessed about noise in the theater (too the detriment of my enjoying the movie). Yes, I'm the guy that turns and makes comments to obnoxious movie goers that mistake the auditorium for their living room.

It's nice to know I'm not alone, but I don't think I can read this blog anymore because it's reinforcing my already anti-social behaviour at the movies...

Chris Riesbeck said...

I always wondered, why do they package movie snacks in cellophane, anyhow?

You just need to read the instructions for this:

Anonymous said...

If I live to be 100, I will never understand people who take or make calls (or texts) during a movie. You've paid money (or sneaked in) to escape reality, or the heat, or whatever. You know you're in a room full of folks who may actually want to see and hear what's happening on that giant rectangle of light in front of you. And yet you can't bear two full hours "out of the loop." If you're a doctor, get a pager set to vibrate. All others -- sit and watch the damn movie. It is, after all, the only reason to be in a darkened theatre while a movie is playing. Well, that and making out - which should be confined to the back row.

Anonymous said...

Going the 2nd week after opening to a matinee is a great idea.

I've resisted the urge to put gum in the hair of a talker.

Opening up your cellphone sucks...if you are just trying to figure out what time it is, buy a watch.

Or, stand up and ask if anyone has the time.

Unknown said...

"Never ask me to move over a seat so it’s more convenient for your party of six."

Sorry you're completely wrong about this one.

And that is also true if you have one empty seat next to you and I have to split up with my wife cause there are only one seats around and there are two of us. You want everyone else to have a little etiquette -- well you hogging an empty seat is bad etiquette as well.

Cage Free Brown said...

or, if you want to sit together, you get there early.

one time I had to ask a guy to turn off a T.V. INSIDE the theatre. he was sitting and watching a rerun of 'sanford and son' right inside the movie theatre. when I told him he needed to turn his t.v. off, he told me he'd paid his ticket.

good times!

Anonymous said...

I agree with gordon about moving over to make room for others. Unless you're sitting in the perfect spot where you get to put your feet up against a bar, or on the aisle, there's really no distincion between the seat you're in and the one next to it.

This is the same sort of etiquette as drivers allowing signallers ahead to merge. They, too, could have left five minutes earlier, and thereby avoided inconveniencing you. Oh, wait, it's not always about you.

Let them merge. Let them sit together. Love your fellow man.

Unknown said...


If homicide was legal for anything, it should be for killing someone talking during a movie. The first time I saw Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann version), I didn't like it because a prick behind me made comments on everything. Watched it again on video after friends raved about it and loved it. Ended up buying the DVD.

My dislike of cellphones is partly (although definitely not solely) due to people checking their messages during movies. I watched one movie where the film broke and they had to stop the movie. Within seconds, 75% of the people were checking their phone messages. I hate that we live in a society where people can't go 2 hours without finding out that no one called them.

One of the duties I perform through my work is watching trailers for movies. I am constantly amazed at the number of people that show up, just as the movie is starting, shocked to discover that the theatre is packed. It's opening weekend for the blockbuster that you, and thousands of other people, have decided they can't wait to see. Why is it a surprise the theatre is full?

Anonymous said...

Having read through all the comments, I thing vigilante justice is called for and totally appropriate...

Eat something spicy and/or greasy and
fart up a storm!

Guarantee you, you will not have any problems with anyone around you.

Happy and safe Labor Day weekend, one and all! Toot toot!

Anonymous said...

This applies to teenagers at multiplex theaters: if you buy a ticket for a movie, THAT'S the movie you're going to say. The ticket doesn't allow you to sit in on five minutes of every movie.

Anonymous said...

Well, taking that advise to wait till the second week and go to a matinee still didn't work. Three people in the theater, still here comes the big giant dude & his,no! he comes....yes, this looks like a good spot - directly in front of me. OCEANS of empty seats. Un-freakin-believable.

Anonymous said...

The waiting two weeks and go to a matinee ruse doesn't always work.

What does work, for popular genre movies at least ("Star Wars", "Harry Potter", etc), is to go to the first showing. Stand in line with all the happy fans in their costumes. The theater will be packed but it's guaranteed these folks are there to watch the show!

Of course, this doesn't work with "serious", Oscar-seeking films. Nobody is ever really excited to see those.

Adam said...

did the good old days of respectful munching, no nuncupative nonsense, and zen-like tranquility truly exist? didn't pauline kael have a take on this when she described how movie palaces used to be much larger, and much more boisterous than today's modern multi-plexes? i recall something about people eating buckets of fried chicken (which no doubt still happens in the south, but she was in san francisco) and throwing food all over the place.

Cage Free Brown said...

when you get to the theatre early, you get to decide where you sit. it's first come first serve.

people getting the best seats and arriving last is a bad thing.

sure, I'll move over when the people are nice - there's the rub. I hated working in theatres and having to ask people to scoot over and miss the L.A.Times trailer because somebody else can't find enough seats together but I was getting paid to do it then. well, nobody's paying me to do it now. nothing rude about it at all. maybe I'll move and maybe I won't. it's my choice unless the theatre has assigned seating or some poor slob is getting paid to tell me to move.

maven said...

Thank goodness for Netflix!

Anonymous said...

"In a fairly empty theater don’t take a seat right in front of me. Especially when there are twenty seats on either side you could choose instead."

Many years ago my girlfriend and I went to see "Sirens" -- the main selling point of this movie being that Elle MacPherson is naked for much of the running time. A small, art-house type film, we didn't expect a big crowd. And, in fact, only 4 other couples came in the theater before the previews. Those 4 couples, however, sat directly in front of, to the left of, to the right of, and BEHIND us. They seriously surrounded us like Conestoga wagons and effectively killed any erotic buzz I was hoping to generate with this flick.

TheDennisMorganShow said...

Geez...I'm truly happy you posted 'Movie theatre etiquette'.
But what about absentee owner/operator's who run a movie house about six notches below
a teen-managed MacDonalds:

There we were, in a partially filled theatre watching the dizzying pace of the opening scenes of the 'Bourne Ultimatum'. I quickly become distracted by the hole in the screen flashing like
a lazer (just at me). And I'm wondering aloud when will they turn the house lights down. The quality of the print sucked big time (vertical lines). I found the manager (not older than 18) and proceeded to go ballistic; got a refund, and left the theatre.

I stopped at MacDonald's on the way home (I need a priest).

Anonymous said...

This applies to teenagers at multiplex theaters: if you buy a ticket for a movie, THAT'S the movie you're going to say. The ticket doesn't allow you to sit in on five minutes of every movie.

It sure as heck does! When I was a teen, I once went to the Muvico Paradise 24 theater in Davie, Florida from 9:51 a.m. to 12:16 the next morning. Shifts change, crowds change, and it was easy to sneak in to any movie I wanted after seeing the movie I bought a ticket for.

Though looking back, I'm still not sure why I spent that much time at a multiplex. But I know you can't do that at an arthouse theater without someone noticing.

I sure wouldn't do it today, though. Not worth it. Not in the theaters of the Santa Clarita Valley, a grand total of 2.

Charles Jurries said...

I was once saving TWO seats to the left of me, I had someone else sitting on the other side to make sure that those seats were open. To the right of me was an open seat, being saved by a old man for his wife. This man kept telling people walking by that "oh, they'll give those seats up!" I kept telling them, "sorry, we're saving those seats for some friends." I wanted to volunteer the seat that this man was saving, but, I'm too nice.

But it gets better! The man had brought popcorn and when his wife FINALLY arrived, she had bought popcorn, too. So she turned to the row BEHIND HER and offered popcorn to everybody she could, then to the people in the row INFRONT. (I had no popcorn, no pop, none of us did.)

Movie-goers can be jerks, even if they're grandparents.

Anonymous said...

Grandparents are WORSE than teenagers. One of them is usually hearing-challenged, and the other has to repeat loudly all dialogue to the hard-of-hearing person. Then there's the person who brings a blind friend, and must describe the whole movie to them as it happens! Does a blind person really need the big screen experience?

Saturday matiness? No, no, Wednesday matinees. What's more important; a job or a movie? Than, if you get the conastoga wagon seaters (And those idiots are so common) you have plenty of chioces of seats to movie to.

And I'm sorry, Party-of-10, I got here 20 minutes before you, so I could choose the seat I wanted. Do you think I sat through all those commercials because I enjoy them? You want 10 seats together, arrive early, and ALL of you together, none of this "We need ten seats, and six of us won't be here for another 20 minutes" crap.

Sorry, sometimes I am the lone person laughing at a joke that sailed over the heads of the dumb audience.

When asked if I would like a Giant-size Coke, I usually reply, "No, I'd like to see the whole movie."

Are there REALLY people who wait until the reach the box office to decide what movie they want to see? Never, in over 50 years of going to the movies, have I EVER gone to a movie theater without knowing which movie I want to see.

I miss drive-ins! No one sat in front of you. You could talk without disturbing other people. You could smoke if you wanted, or better yet, smoke pot if you wanted. (When 3 friends of mine and I saw THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN at the HiWay 39 Drive-In in Westminster, CA, when I was in college, the pot smoke in the car was so thick, we couldn't see the second half of the movie.) And of course, if you wanted, you could have sex. Sure the sound sucked, but if you were lucky, so did your date. Bring back drive-ins!

David J. Loehr said...

Once, during a performance of "The Lion in Winter" on Broadway, Laurence Fishburne stopped the play dead to confiscate a ringing cell phone, and got a round of applause. I think Brian Dennehy has done the same thing as well.

Anonymous said...

1) Throw your fucking popcorn bag in the trash you cretin. The trash can is on your way out and it takes you almost no effort. Everyone always says, "I paid $8 dollars to see this movie, the theater can throw away my trash for me."

People in my apartment building used to open their mail at the boxes, then throw junk mail, envelopes and so on to the ground (instead of taking it home and disposing of it there).

Finally, the management placed a trash can right next to the mail box.

People still throw their crap on the ground -- they can't be bothered to deposit it in the can.

Some folks are just plain sloppy/rude/you name it.

Anonymous said...

1) Throw your fucking popcorn bag in the trash you cretin. The trash can is on your way out and it takes you almost no effort. Everyone always says, "I paid $8 dollars to see this movie, the theater can throw away my trash for me."

The same thing applies to schools. I served as a substitute campus supervisor at a middle school today in 100+ degree Southern California heat and one of the duties is helping pick up trash after break (a few minutes for the students to just hang out in the courtyard or at the outdoor tables and get food and drinks) and lunch and those little cretins just left everything possible on the ground.

So I and two other campus supervisors and one of the custodians had to go around, sweeping from under the tables, picking up garbage from the grass and the walkways and in this blazing heat, I'm thinking that there needs to be draconian rules set by the principal for garbage, such as:

"If students do not throw trash away, they will be shipped to China as part of a 'Made in America' program. That'll show the Chinese what we have and will motivate them to make better products."

I'm hoping the heat wave passes by next week and even if it does, I'll still stick to that. And yet, I was told that the garbage problem was worse last year. Amazing.

Unknown said...

Ken, you are my hero. Whenever somebody says "I'd rather watch a movie at home than go to the theater", a little piece of me dies. If everyone followed your rules, people would say that a lot less.

Anonymous said...

How about the hostile SOB who stands up and comes over three seats behind you and taps you in the shoulder and tells you to move? Time: 10 minutes before film - ads everywhere. Me: in suit - no hat. Him: in 'roid rage "impressing his gf."

Theater staff: nowhere to be found.

I leave - and collect wife coming from a *closed* concession stand at 7:30 pm. No need to risk an idiot with a gun these days.

Tell theater (multiplex) manager and request refund of my pre-purchased tickets (Internet, hours prior to film start) only to be told that "there is a policy against refunds."

Gave twit my business card and said that he should give it to the owner - I was going to go reverse the credit card transaction. Seeing that I'm an attorney - he caved and refunded my money on the spot.

Haven't been to a theater since and WILL NOT GO BACK to any chain for the rest of my life.

The film? My wife's choice: A History of Violence.

Art theaters and home theaters for me. QQQQ Chain theaters - may they all fail.

Howard Hoffman said...

It's not easy for everyone, but when there's a big movie out, we'll catch the 10:30am show the earliest weekday we can swing it. Popcorn for breakfast, and about twelve other people in the theater.

Home video really killed the movie-going experience. An entire generation-plus has now never known seeing films only in theaters. They're used to talking, shaking the popcorn bag, getting up, farting, belching, saying "That's funny!" a zillion times, scratching, and doing everything they do while watching a movie at home.

And I have to keep chasing them off my lawn. Damn kids.

Anonymous said...

Wait, people still make the THX joke? In 2007?

Please, stop having conversations, no matter how bad or boring the movie is. Two were going simultaneously during the screening I was at of Halloween last night. And then, don't compound the problem by loudly yelling to the conversationalists to shut up.

Jane said...

Spot on....Spot on....oh and another really annoying thing is when people eat really loudly in your ear....we dont need to hear you chomp on popcorn and nachos...some people even make eating jellies loud...makes my skin crawl

Anonymous said...

Frankly, it isn't the other customers who have made me sharply curtail my moviegoing habit. It's the theater management. I know some theater chains are having trouble financially, but they aren't helping themselves by ruining the moviegoing experience and making our home theaters seem much more enjoyable by contrast. For instance:

1. A lot of theaters have started to charge for parking, even with validation. I'm paying 11 bucks per ticket, and you want me to pay to use your overcrowded parking lot as well?

2. Inundating us with half an hour of advertising while we're finding seats, then eight minutes of captive-audience commercials once the "show" starts. Guess what? This movie will be on DVD in six months and on HBO in a year, commercial-free.

3. A lot of movies are projected out-of-focus these days, because multiplexes don't want to pay for projectionists. Even worse, some of them save electricity by showing the film at half-brightness, so you can barely see what's going on. Then they try to make up for it by turning the sound up to an ear-destroying blast. (You can call me old, but I'd swear the decibel level in some theaters would be illegal on a construction site.)

4. Clean the floors once in a while, wouldja?

Anonymous said...

If a movie begins, and you see a shot of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State, the Golden Gate or whatever famous landmark, please don't yell out oud "Paris", "New York", "San Francisco" or wherever. Please, dad, don't.

By Ken Levine said...

Let ME respond to those who took issue with my not wanting to move over to allow someone who has arrived last minute to not be inconvenienced. I purposely get to the theatre in time so I can select the seat I want. My wife is short and we try to sit in such seats that she's able to see. And then someone breezes in last second and asks us to move, for her to now sit behind someone blocking her view, and I'm sorry, squatter's rights.

If you want to make sure your group can sit together, show up earlier.

There are times I have showed up last minute and my feeling is, it's my fault. That's the way it is, and I take whatever's available.

If I make the effort and arrive on time I shouldn't be considered the bad guy because I don't accommodate people who aren't.

Unkystan said...

-How about waiting on line to buy tickets and realizing the reason the line is not moving is because the cashier is busy signing up someone for their "Frequent Movie Club"?
-A personal peeve of mine is with stadium seating theatres designed for only athletes. My Dad can't go anymore to the movies as he's in a wheelchair and is forced to sit in the front row cranking his head. When I complained to the manager his response was that "the theatre is buit up to code" and he gave me a coupon for a free coke!
-How about when an usher finally comes around to check an audtorium he's waiving a flashlight around just to check a thermostat (why are they always on the wall on the corner of the screen?) And naturally he's talking to his other usher pals on his walkie-talkie?
-And how about NOT cutting off the film when the end credits begin just to get us out faster in order to get the next show in (or at least the ads). I've had this happen many times and every time the manager blamed the (missing) projectionist!
But I still go. When you complain legitimatly they usually give you passes rather that argue with you.

Karen said...

Ken, I have to say I agree with the folks who are questioning your "don't make me move over so your friends can sit together" rule. I honestly don't see why this should be a problem.

I would add something to the list for movie theatre owners, though: don't BOTH raise ticket prices AND up the number of pre-trailers commercials into the double digits. Seriously: just how much profit do you think you're entitled to? Movie tickets in Manhattan are up to $11, and I still have to sit through 15 minutes of car and soda and insurance commercials before I even get to the Coming Attractions? That's just not right, son.

By Ken Levine said...


I just love to be controversial. :)


Anonymous said...

During Lord of the Rings, a group of guys in front of me kept shouting, "Willow" everytime a hobbit appeared on screen. They also had smuggled in a couple flasks, so after an hour, they thought they were more entertaining than the movie itself.

They got the boot after trying to pick a fight with the people telling them to cram a sock in it.

Anonymous said...

Say, Ken -

My post about the hostile in the theater isn't from my native NYC - it occurred in Kansas City, Missouri. (Where concealed-carry is legal.)

The industry cannot long tolerate this kind of lunacy. I have serious doubts about the deaths of actors and stunt players: On the early morning hours of July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow, and two juvenile Asian actors Renee Chen and My-ca Dinh Le were killed during an accident on set. IMDB; and Stunt player Harry O'Connor was killed when he hit a pillar of the Palacky Bridge in Prague, para-sailing during one of the actions scenes. The accident occured while filming the second take of the stunt; O'Connor's first attempt was completed without incident and can be seen in the completed film.

How many loonies with pocket-rockets do we need in public theaters? How many theater shootings will it take to kill the big screen?

Me, I see good films at 70mm theaters whenever I can - unfortunately, there are none here in KC. We have a pair of brothers (The Mossman brothers) who have rehabbed at least four 50 year-old arts & crafts theaters. The clientele are reasonable. 1st Run is not available.

What pisses me off? Threats to life and limb. And, I am no stranger to conflict - this business of guns in theaters is the end of the line for the retail business.....

Steve Lockhart said...

I agree except about the credit card for a small purchase and baseball caps. I live in a town with a modern movie theater where the floor is so steep that the guy in front of you would have to be 8 feet tall to block your view.

Anonymous said...

I wrote about some of the same things on my blog last week. Specifically I mentioned a time when some old fogeys kept chatting during a movie and I had to shut them up. Some of the etiquette issues you mentioned were funny, and almost all have to do with the same thing: people generally have little consideration for others.

Ah well, at least it makes good fodder for bloggers.

Unknown said...

On Ken's response...

So you arrived early. Big deal...

I don't really care that you didn't have anything to do all day so you could sit through an hour of rotating ads for the local painless dentist on the screen accompanied by bad music.

So, what if someone tall also shows up early and decides to sit in front of your wife?

You don't like that either and you want tall people to be kind.

I'm short, too... I don't want to sit behind a tall guy either.

I've had "great" experiences with tall people who not only sat in front of me, but purposefully sat up straight to make it even more difficult.

So, perhaps there are times when you can point out to someone who wants you to move over that it willl make your experience miserable. I'm sure they'll understand that and look for somewhere else to sit.

But you didn't make that point at first.

You just acted like you were superior and didn't have to move. And screw anyone who showed up "late." Whatever "late" is. Sometimes it isn't "late" at all. Sometimes the theater is just very full and tons of people like to have an empty seat beside them so they can have "space." Empty space isn't what a theater is for. The seats are there to be filled with people -- not your shopping packages or your wife's purse.

This is about etiquette and it works both ways.

That said, I love your site and read it frequently.

Unknown said...

I solved this problem about 10 years ago. I stopped going to movie theatres. Cold Turkey. It was and continues to be a sacrifice, but one I was willing to make and I do not regret it for a nanosecond.
Netflix rules.

Roger Owen Green said...

I had a particularly annoying experience myself:

Thomme said...

I agree with most of Ken's rules except the cell-phone checking thing. If one rule states that I can't bring my baby to the movies (which I agree with), then if my phone vibrates during the movie, I'm gonna discreetly peek at the display (shading the phone from other moviegoers with my hand) to make sure it's not the babysitter telling us that our daughter isn't bleeding or on fire.

And yes, as a former Disney World Attractions peon who has mucked out all kinds of horrifying garbage from theaters after shows, I throw my own concession junk away. (If I'm allowed to watch the end credits in peace, that is. If not, eff 'em.)

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Like fabiola thing said at 10:06 AM, you long ago drove me out of the movie theaters. So congratulations. You won. As far as I'm concerned you can bring in live poultry and wear a fez. Just stay out of the supermarkets between 2 and 4 in the morning and we'll get along fine.

Anonymous said...

1) Senator Craig, we have to SHARE this row, will you pulleeeez NARROW YOUR STANCE !

2) What? I can’t sit in front of the tallest Jew since Brad Garrett? I’ll bet the missus only SEEMS short.

3) This one is serious. Here in the South there are still old movie theaters with a “crying room.” Honest. This is an insulated room looking into the theatre from the back wall through a large picture window.
The one I’m thinking of has about a dozen theater seats, and there’s a speaker. I’m told the room was built for theatergoers with small children, so, if any crying were to break out, it wouldn’t annoy the other patrons. I’ll bet those in the very last row might still hear a muffle ruckus, but it seems like a good concession to everybody else. BTW, I have never seen ANYBODY sitting in the Crying Room unless the rest of the theater was completely filled.

4) Bonus beef: Cinema-savvy patrons who just won’t give a guy a break.

A long time ago, as my wife and I were leaving a movie theater, an employee was up on a ladder affixing the individual letters of the following days feature to the marquee: “AIRPORT 1975 STARRING CHARLESTON HE…….” A dozen of us watched him looking all over for about 10 minutes, without the decency to let him know he had already misused the missing “S” in “CHARLESTON.”

Anonymous said...

In the late '80s, when I was in film school in Carbondale, IL, one of the local theatres had its projector positioned at an odd angle, so that any film needing a 'Scope lens couldn't be consistently focused. At least one third of the screen was out of focus at all times, regardless of how much the projectionist fiddled with it. Anytime we complained, the manager would get pissed because "It's only you film students who notice." Maybe he was right: I've been in full theatres when an obvious focus or speaker balance issue was ignored or tolerated by everyone but me (and yes, my glasses give me 20/20 vision and my hearing is good).

Rebounding said...

Add on the moronic junior high girls who think its neat to pop their gum as loudly as possible. Die in a fire.

My story: Wife and I went to see Harry Potter 3 in Kansas City. Full house, so we had to sit in the front row. Next to us was a line of kids probably 14-18 years old, 10 of them.

Right when the credits started, the one right next to me slid down in his seat, unbuckled his pants, and start digging around his crotch.

My wife, sitting on the other side of me, hissed, "What is he doing? I was mildly concerned until I saw him pulling a 1-hitter out of his pants. He was just smoking pot -- annoying, but hopefully it would keep him quiet.

Well, most of the movie passes with my wife staring directly across me at this kid as he kept fishing various implements out of his pants. Dude needed a purse, seriously.

One of his friends took a cell phone call during the movie. Full volume talking, etc. I turned and looked at him and said, very loudly, "Shut the fuck up you little drug addict." He looked at me and kept talking, and I stood up and said, "Shut the fuck up before I come over there and shove it down your throat."

I normally don't threaten violence against kids, but he pissed me off.

Best part of what I said is that the entire row behind me, full of black people (race cliche of talking at movies) all said things like "Yeah!" and "Tell him, brother!"

So, I guess what I really came here to say, is that I'm a ginger, so being called brother was kinda cool.

Anonymous said...

Some people here are crabby and overly demanding, but there are certainly lots of legitimate complaints, too. When my gf and I saw "Harry Potter" in IMAX a few weeks back, we were hit with all of the following:

1. A family of three walked past *six empty seats* and sat right next to us, so the father and I had to share an arm rest.

2. Same family started chatting at the start of the film, so I "shhh"ed them softly. When the dad started in with a story about the glory of Cinerama from his childhood, I loudly "SHHHH"ed them -- and this time they didn't utter a peep for the rest of the movie.

3. A not-very-young couple in the front row brought their goddamn baby in a goddamn stroller. (Yes, he cried during the movie.)

4. Two women were sitting on the opposite side of gf and one made little noises and comments about every single goddamn thing: "Uh-oh!" "No way!" "Oh, God..." "Here we go." "Geez..."

5. The teenagers in the front row (with stadium seating, in clear view of everyone) kept checking their cellphones for text messages -- which is like shining a spotlight into someone's eyes.

But damn, the 3D IMAX ending was sweeeeeeeeeet!!!

Anonymous said...

It's the text messaging that really burns my banana. These annoying spotlights of rudeness happen every single time I go to the movies nowadays. Honestly, I can't think of a movie I've seen in the last 3 years that wasn't ruined halfway through by strangers text messaging. Just as many adults do it as teens. I've started bringing an index card with me that I put in front of my eye to block out the light. I wonder if I should upgrade to a small mirror so I can shine the light back at the rude perpetrators? Probably wouldn't work, though. They're so oblivious that they'd probably be happy for the extra reading light.

Anonymous said...

Schoolkids around here--in a less-than-nice part of London--think its perfectly acceptable to throw rubbish on the ground. Even if they're standing right next to a bin. They don't even notice it--the shit just goes straight to the pavement.

Ask them why they litter, and a common response is: "I'm giving somebody a job, innit?"

And if I smash your fucking nose in, am I giving that nice NHS doctor a job, too?

Still... when did people get so anal about the theatre/cinema? There's never been a 'golden age' of pacified comment-free viewers. Better than Elizabethan theatre-goers, pelting the actors with shit if they didn't like the play.

Anonymous said...

We rarely go to the movies because we have two small children. The last few times we went to the movies I was appalled that people showed up to PG-13 and R rated films with children under 6 years old. One couple showed up to a 10'Oclock showing of a PG-13 movie with 3 small children and during the previews discussed their little girl's fever(who appeared to be about 3 years old) Our last trip to the movie included a small child about 2 1/2 years old that decided the best seat in the house was standing directly in front of my husbands chair and the parents didn't do anything about it. I told the child about three times she needed to go back and sit with her parents and they still did nothing. If you are attending a PG-13 or R rated movie this is a film for teens or adults. If you don't care enough for your children not to expose them to the violance, langage,and sexual content ment for more mature audiances then respect the fact that mature audiances don't appreciate the interuptions of your small children. There are movies ment for small children they are G rated films. I go to mature films to escape the children for an evening. Leave them at home or go to a film appropriate for them.

Anonymous said...

A lot has been mentioned here, and I dunno if this has been mentioned, but....

If the theater is empty enough, DON'T SIT NEXT TO ME. I don't care why you want to sit in that row. Don't like it? COME EARLIER NEXT TIME!

Also, please don't wear brightly colored clothing. It reflects off your clothing and it's really distracting.

Anonymous said...

On Gordon's Comment:

Likewise, the person who has their seat and doesn't have to move doesn't give a crap about the fact you want to sit together. It's the fact that you just think people should move who were actually there first that is the problem. Whoever was there first has the right to say no to moving, and you who come late or later have no right to get pissy about it, or just expect it. Just because someone got there early for the movie doesn't mean they have no life. They might be very excited for the film. However, people such as yourselves are a big problem thinking they can just insult and push people around. You better check yourself.

sammy said...

Everybody has a right to express his or her opinion.