Saturday, February 20, 2010

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.

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.


briddie said...

Ken, you're my new hero. Can I add a couple of things?

Don't talk. Just don't. The only time it's remotely acceptable is if the movie is loud and your mouth is two inches from the listener's ear.

Take the kid to the bathroom BEFORE the movie. If you can't do that, take them quietly, quickly, and do it THE FIRST TIME THEY ASK. There's nothing more distracting than a ten-minute litany of "I need to potty!"

Rob said...

Ken, some of us aren't fancypants Hollywood millionaires. We put our Milk Duds on the credit card because we can't afford them if we don't.

As for yelling at the screen:

qwerty said...

Repeat: don't talk. To your friend, to the screen, to anyone. And if someone turns around to ask you to pipe down, pipe down.

Don't make out sloppily or slide your hands up each other's legs when you're sitting RIGHT NEXT TO SOMEONE.

Eat your popcorn with your goddamn mouth shut.

Don't crack your chewing gum.

(am I officially a curmudgeon now? if so, GET OFF MY LAWN!)

Rob said...

When my wife and I saw Saving Private Ryan, the girl to my right spent the first ten minutes (you know, the slow, boring part of that movie) talking to her friend on her mobile, saying continuously "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU" Then, 15 minutes later we hear a baby crying.

Really brought home the hell of war.

Can I add a few more:

If you don't understand the movie, leave. Don't ask your friend to explain every scene to you.

If you can't hear the movie, leave. See above.

If I can hear you chewing your popcorn over the THX OCTAPHONIC DOLBY DIGITAL SENSURROUND, you need to close your mouth.

No, my ass is not scooting over. I paid for my ticket, got here early, and this is the seat I picked. Sit up front in the neck strainers.

Bill W. said...

They haven't updated in a while, but I enjoyed going to:

It's a whole list of these kinds of things.

Maybe you'll enjoy?

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

Yes. This is the reason I go to the movies, which I used to love, about twice a year.

In France, whatever else you want to say about them, they know how to behave in a movie theater. I actually have felt sorry for a few people who have been violently shushed by six or seven people for clearing their throat or saying excuse me as they get to their seat.

I think using the credit/debit cards for small purchases is a generational thing. Get used to it. Those of us who are caught in between the check-writing generation and the swiping for a dollar generation just have to deal.

Grant said...

Don't show so many previews that I finish my popcorn before the movie starts...

Don't sneak in bottles of beer. Sneak in cans... (Okay, I might be guilty of that one.)

jaglasgow said...

one seat = one cup holder

Kelle Leonard said...

If your phone goes off, don't let it ring all the way through your annoying rap song ringtone. If you silence it after a beat I'll let it go, but seriously. And if it happens should be shot.

And if something makes you uneasy during a serious film, can you not laugh as a defense mechanism. It just shows you're immature and an imbecile.

Kate said...

I understand working at a movie theater isn't the career most folks inspire to, but would it kill most employees to make an effort for their pay check? Most of what I dislike about going to the movies is the absolutely appalling service. When I went to see 'Star Trek', the credits stopped halfway through and when I brought it up to the staff, I was blown off with "well, the movie's over". An e-mail to corporate was treated with a form letter to go fuck myself. There have been many times the lights were still on as a movie started because apparently they're supposed to go off automatically. Ten minutes to fill a food order should be a hanging offense, especially when your conversation with your co-worker takes priority. And it should say something about most places when I go to the AMC in Portchester and there isn't a Smell. They also manage to run their theater with a degree of service and even though it's well out of the way, I'll make the trek there.

As far as the Milk Duds go, aside from the candy being fucking vile, I'd rather pay with a card because it takes less time than having to fiddle with the bills or make change. And I'll tolerate kids talking in a movie if it is a kids' movie (to a certain degree), but if I'm watching 'The Dark Knight' and your kid wont' be quiet, I have no qualms about asking you to tell them to be quiet.

estiv said...

A local theater chain, the Alamo Drafthouse, always has a good theater etiquette clip. Here's one featuring the late Ann Richards, former governor of Texas and the person who once said that George H. W. Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

l.a.guy said...

two words: home theater. The technology today is affordable and the quality is stunning. I may never buy another movie ticket again. (And Blu-Ray disks are still cheaper than two tickets)

Danielle Solzman said...

i actually got rain checks as a result of all those teenage girls that text the entire time.

Cap'n Bob said...

And how about those groups of kids that run loudly from their seats up front to the snack bar every ten minutes? Insert Jimmy Hatlo's Urge to Kill cartoon here.

Susan D-L 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."

On the rare occasions we go out to see a movie, this happens every single time. Now we try to time it so we get in just before the previews start.

Which still doesn't help, because there's a special kind of movie troll that waits until the previews, commercials, candy pitch, and THX wah-wah are finally over and the movie has started. THEN they lurch into the darkened theater, tripping through the rows and finally coming to halt directly in front of us, talking and rustling for 15 seconds while they decide who sits where.

You can't fucking win.

zadig said...

Seriously, you all really need to stay home to watch movies. Yes, people should be better behaved, but yes, if you persist in getting all heated up about this, you'll die younger. People make noises. Sheesh.

wordnerd (Rebecca Carey Rohan) said...

I can't tell you how many times I've seen parents with young kids in R-rated or PG-13 movies -- it makes me insane. Get a sitter or stay home. It's just a movie; you can afford to miss it.

We took the kids to see the new Percy Jackson/Lightning Thief movie the other day. We read the books and loved them and couldn't wait to see the movie. But the jackasses behind us brought their two little girls, who were about 3 and 4, who spent the entire movie asking 'What was that? Who was that? Why did he do that? What happened there?" Hopefully, karma got them in the end, as I'm sure the little tykes had nightmares.

chris said...

many good points. i'd like to add that people should not bring any food inside a plastic bag. They take about 15 minutes opening it while it makes that crinkling sound because they're trying to courteous and open it slowly.
If they do bring it in treat it how you rip off a band-aid, quickly.

Unknown said...

NO MORE COMMERCIALS! (Especially you National Guard!). I paid for the ticket, I took out a small loan for the popcorn, you really need to delay the start of the film another 10 minutes? This used to be a big problem at AMC theaters, so i stopped going there.

Mark Gleason said...

How about etiquette at concerts? We were at a James Taylor concert last year and the 2 girls behind us talked the entire time! I just continually flashed dirty looks their way. Yes ladies, I know you've heard this song a million times before, but I would like to hear it this time! Same thing at a Chicago concert (yes, I know I'm dating myself with the concerts I'm going to, but they're the only ones worth going to). The 2 people behind us decided to carry on a discussion throughout the concert. And of course they had to talk loud enough to be heard over the music. I think that people have forgotten how to conduct themselves at movie theaters and concerts because everybody spends so much time watching movies and concerts at home these days. When they get out into public, they still think they're at home and conduct themselves accordingly.

Ray Richmond said...

Is it possible for the trailers to reveal slightly less than the movie's entire fucking plot? Pretty please?

YEKIMI said...

Oh, you hit a nerve with me.
I now manage a drive-in theater.
I used to manage an indoor theater.
They had signs all over the place "turn off your cell phone, no texting during the show,violators will be ejected with no refund." I was in there recently and no less than EIGHT people were on their cell phones texting and talking away while the movie was going on. The manager, when asked to stop it, just shrugged his shoulders and walked away while telling the person complaining [not me] "I make minimum wage I'm not going to bust my butt trying to stop these kids when they don't care if they bother people". When I was managing it, I caught kids outside tossing rocks at the theater sign busting off letters; they destroyed $80 worth of letters. I banned them from ever coming back to the theater only to catch the OWNER giving them passes to come back. I went ballistic on him saying "Why are you REWARDING these kids for destroying YOUR property?". He said "Well, if we ban them they will tell their friends and they and they and their friends will not come back". I said, "So you reward them for destroying property?" He didn't say anything. I told him "Look, how many adults have come out complaining about the noise from teens that just use the place as a social gathering sight and could care less about the movie being shown? Once these teens are old enough to drive, do you think for one second they'll come up here?" At that point he said "I don't think you're the type of manager we need" and fired me. The place is now toast, no adults come there even during weekdays when teens do not show up. I talked to an older person and he said "Why should I waste my money when they don't give a shit about the kids making noise? I am there to watch a show and if they can't or won't control the teens than I'll go to a theater that will". The owner is scratching his head wondering why business is so bad and even said recently "We don't get many adults people coming here anymore, I wonder why?" Oh, they used to show a clip done up in a 1950's style black and white about theater etiquette and a customer came out and complained; he felt it was "insulting". The owner told the projectionist to take it off immediately.

blogward said...

I might consider going to a cinema again if they simply served better hotdogs.

YEKIMI said...

By the way, this is not a recent problem. I remember going to a theater in the late 70s to see "Close Encounters of the Third Kind-Special Edition" and some drunken lout kept muttering stuff. It was when he started screaming at the screen during the "musical sequence" [the 5 note part when the aliens and humans are trying to communicate] that I went out and yelled at the manager either to shut this guy up or give me my money back. Amazingly, there were two cops in his office and he just looked at them, they went into the theater and physically pulled the drunken fool out of his chair and marched him out of the theater. His girlfriend started bitching at them and they grabbed her and threw her out also. The entire audience broke into applause.

Andy said...

If the movie is boring don’t prat around throwing food or spraying soda at people, just leave.

If you’ve already seen the movie and have the dieing urge to spoil it by telling your friend next to you what the twist is ….. don’t we all can hear.

Otherwise you’ve covered many of those ones which irritate me especially the one about bringing babies into a cinema.

Anonymous said...

And yet...while I agree with all the etiquette things, realize too that home theatre-big screen tv's with HD are now WAY superior in sharpness over movie theatres...

I STILL like going out for exactly the experience of seeing a film with many people, strangers.
You can let this stuff get you irritated, and you just ruin the movie for yourself because you get more irritated over their rudeness and stew and can't let it go, and think it is unfair,etc.
Or you can realize that you can print the lists from now on, each day, and the people that need to read them...won't. It's a crapshoot going to the movies. Has been for at least 20 years now. You'd think we'd have caught on by now. I think too, for the extra bad audiences they ought to have the ushers warn or remove folk like they used to in the old days.

Philip Guest said...

My pet hate - the loudly whispered "What do I know he/she from?" comment when a character actor shows up.

Repeat offender (and God bless him, it's not his fault) - Stephen Tobolowsky. As soon as he appears onscreen, I feel like shouting "Before you start, he's occasionally in Glee and was Ned Ryerson in fucking Groundhog Day, OK?!?"

A. Buck Movie Short said...


estiv, thanks for the Ann Richards instructional video. When a woman "dates" a screenwriter for 17 years, it's logical she wouldn't put up with dissin' the whole movie experience. But my favorite quote of hers about G.W. Bush is, "Born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple." Oh did I mention the screenwriter also wrote for Sports Illustrated? Yes, Ken, go ahead and use it whenever you want.

I was hoping we'd actually get one o' them Alamo Draft House thee-aters up her in Dallas too. After a coupla' drafts I planned on drawing my own line in the sand -- if you know what I mean. Why do you think I've got my pants off?

Lira Kellerman said...

Ken!!! Have you been to an ArcLight Theatre? PLEASE go! You can pick out your seat when you purchase your tickets online (and 0-2 year old tickets are HIGHER than adult tix) the seats are mostly stadium with plenty of legroom, you can get a drink before your film, they have 21+ screenings, it's always clean, AND they have an usher who shows you to your seat, reminds everyone to turn their phones off, and stays for the first 10 minutes to insure the quality of the focus and sound AND turns late comers away! $13.50-14.50 a ticket, but the extra money is worth it for an Arclight experience. Hollywood and Sherman Oaks. And no, I was not paid for this.

D. McEwan said...

"YEKIMI said...
Oh, you hit a nerve with me.
I now manage a drive-in theater."


I thought drive-ins were extinct.

I loved them when I was in high school and college. You could smoke pot during the movie. You could have sex, or just watch pantsless. Picture quality wasn't good, and sound quality sucked, but if you were there just for fun, ratehr than for a full cinematic experience, they were fun. But I haven't set eyes on a drive-in now in decades.

Many long years ago, at a screening of the then-just-opened The Muppett Movie, while there were of course, noisy kids, I got really steamed at the full-grown man in his 30s just in front of me who seemed to feel that making loud remarks was okay. At one point James Coburn appeared onscreen in a cameo, and he loudly announced, "Oh look. It's Jon Voight." I leaned forward and hissed angrily into his ear, "No you pathetic moron, it's James Coburn. If you must keep talking out loud through the whole movie like a four year old, at least get your fucking facts right!"

He never made another sound.

impwork said...

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

Or you're in a multiplex that doesn't care and should have gone and said something during the first reel.

I've heard of an audience sitting through 20 minutes of a film without sound and debating the merits of the brave director who decided to make a silent film in the 80s...

Vermonter17032 said...

Here's a little tip: Get to the theater early. Buy a bottle of water. Find the perfect seat. Poor half the water on the seat in front of you. (I've never actually done this, but have been tempted to, being fairly short -- which means the tallest person usually selects the seat in front of me.)

Pat Reeder said...

Being the intelligent and sensitive human being I am, I can find someone nearby in nearly every movie crowd who richly deserves a good waterboarding for one reason or another. But the one that sticks in my memory many years later was when I saw the third Indiana Jones movie, and a precocious kid (chubby, about 10, and destined for a life of nuclear wedgies, involuntary virginity and comic book conventions) was sitting in front of me. He'd already seen the movie several times, and for two straight hours, impervious to constant shushing, he excitedly jabbered to his friend every last cool thing that was just about to happen, along with a personal assessment of how cool it was.

If I had to name the biggest non-audience annoyance, it would have to be trailers that give away the entire plot. They lay out every last incident of the set-up, then the announcer says something like, "And then...something totally unexpected happened," and shows us what it is. If they ran the closing credits, it would be the entire movie in Readers' Digest form. I guess I shouldn't complain about the annoying kid referenced above ruining one movie when the studio marketing departments have already ruined every last one of them.

Pat Reeder said...

P.S. -- My wife performs live musical/comedy shows, and I often introduce them. As part of my standard spiel, I remind the audience that the show will be taking place live and in person, not on TV, and that as flattered as the performers are when they find it stimulating to conversation, please resist talking it over until the bows are completed. I do it with humor, but it's amazing that it's actually necessary. People are so used to watching shows on TV, they treat the entire world as if they were sitting on their living room sofas, even if they're in a live theater.

Nancy said...

My pet peeve is People who have already seen the movie telling their friend next to them what's going to happen next! Or the two of them discussing the scene they just watched! SHUT.UP.

We had a run in with about five teenagers one News Years Eve afternoon (it WAS a family tradition that died with that movie outing) while watching a Harry Potter movie. They were in the same row, and talked the entire time. We shushed them, people in front of us shushed them, we went out for the manager who came in and gave them 3 warnings but they never did shut up. At the end of the movie about five families went and complained to another manager and we were given our money back.

Now in the same theater security guards come in on a regular basis (which is sort of distracting in itself.). But I NEVER hesitate to tell someone to be quiet.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Yes, yes, and yes to the entire list. I would also like to add the girlfriend who's trying to impress a possibly new boyfriend by LOUDLY overreacting to everything that happens on screen--laughing too loud, talking too loud--loud enough to be heard throughout the theater: "OMG!! I'ts HIS BROTHER!!" Yeah, I think I already figured that out, thanks.

As for kiddies in inappropriate movies: I went to see Pan's Labyrinth, and a couple came in behind us with a three or four year old child. I said to my friend, "I can't believe they brought that child." To a subtitled, and defintely not-for-children movie. Well, after the first grisly murder, they got up and left and never came back, for which I give them credit. But they could have checked out the reviews, or SOMEONE selling tickets should have warned them. I'm sure the poor kid must have had nightmares even if she didn't get to see much of the movie.

Ref said...

This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George got upset because a douchebag with a laser pointer upstaged his own carefully planned douchebag moment at a movie. I kept waiting for a plot contrivance that would put a nuclear squelch on both of the George and his opponent, but the writers disappointed me.

Joey said...

@Anonymous at 6:06: Your comment about Pan's Labyrinth reminded me of when I went to see "The Aristocrats." There were signs posted in the theater, stating that the movie was not to be confused with the Disney animated feature of a similar name. That worked to keep the kids out, but I was surprised by how many of the Older Americans who were there for this weekday midday showing still wound up walking out before the movie was over. Just what were they expecting?

Charles H. Bryan said...

When I was seven or eight years old, my mom and dad took me to a drive-in to a movie. I think they thought I would just go to sleep in the back seat, but nope, I watched the entirety of "Bonnie and Clyde". To this day whenever I might hear a reference to Estelle Parsons, I think of a bad hair-do running around screaming.

I used to go to the movies weekly or more often, but it was the quality of the movies and the price of the tickets that made me give up that routine.

The most frightening thing about the jackasses in the seats was realizing that they also were jackasses when they drove.

Charles H. Bryan said...

On the other hand -- and I don't recall the movie's title -- one time some guy a few rows back fell asleep and snored off and on throughout the movie. Some frined woke him up every once in a while, but the squawking soon resumed.

Most of the rest of the audience just started laughing, because the movie was crap and Mr. Sleepyhead was delivering the perfect review.

Also, a couple of times when I'd sneak off to an afternoon showing, I was the only person in the seats. That was indeed great.

wv: enion - a pungent root vegetable that sings elevator music

Anonymous said...

Don’t bring a baby. EVER.

I can't speak for the USA, but at least one theatre chain here in Canada has a "CineBabies" (or similarly titled) program, where, in a weekday matinee, they show current movies - with the volume down a bit so the Dolby BLS (bloody loud sound) doesn't frighten or wake up the little ones - so moms can actually get out of the house and watch a new movie without having to download an Asian pirate DV recording of it.

Since the entire theatre is filled with moms and babies, nobody cares if there's a baby crying, and the mom can excuse herself at any point to take the kid to the washroom, change table (facilities and free diapers provided by sponsors outside), or feed it.

You sit through about a 5 minute presentation by whatever sponsor it is at the beginning, and then on with the show. Only glitch, they sometimes forget and show the trailers at full volume.

As a parent, I'm horrified at other parents who bring their kids to age-inappropriate movies, but I've also seen kids have frightened freak-outs a G-rated films.

Part of the problem with that is that there's a huge developmental difference in kids 0-12 (which the General Audiences tag works for) so you can't really expect a toddler to handle a movie intended for tweens or vise versa.

TV stations here have a ratings system which subcats all the different kid ages, so you know what's appropriate viewing. Or more details, like what kinds of elements ("frightening scenes" "violence" "coarse language" ") might offend. There's a parental movie review website which goes beat by beat, point by point, described in general terms, of the content of the movie. Now, it's spoilery, but if you as a parent want to be able to take your kid to a movie without causing a scene, you can get the heads-up.

William C Bonner said...

Credit / Debit cards are the only way to pay for milk duds at the theater. They generally cost $3.50 or more already, but the important thing is that you don't have to deal with the staff making change, or the probability that you'll lose the change in the theater.

While I agree that it's annoying to have someone sit right in front of you in a mostly empty theater, its part of the sweet spot problem. You probably sat in the only place anyone wants to sit in the empty theater. What I don't understand is someone I don't know sitting in the seat that shares an armrest with me unless the theater is absolutely packed.

DwWashburn said...

Was this column ghost written by Abe Simpson?

briddie said...

When Titanic came out I went to see it with family, and the theater was packed. The woman beside me spent the first third explaining the movie to her friend. I often wondered if she ever figured out how condescending that was to her friend?

I had a "discussion" with some teenagers one time. They were talking and talking until I finally told them to shut up. One turned around and said "You don't have to be rude!" and I said "Neither do you." I don't think it had occurred to her that talking would be a problem to other people - after that she kept shushing her friends herself. FTW!

Janice said...

My pet hate - the loudly whispered "What do I know he/she from?" comment when a character actor shows up.

Repeat offender (and God bless him, it's not his fault) - Stephen Tobolowsky. As soon as he appears onscreen, I feel like shouting "Before you start, he's occasionally in Glee and was Ned Ryerson in fucking Groundhog Day, OK?!?",

This is just funny.

And while the cell phone light is horribly distracting, people seem to forget that there is a constant light on their bluetooths, as well. Yeesh.

Tod Hunter said...

There are a couple of people at the movies I could do without.

People Who Think They're Mick Jagger: React with loud "WHOO!" instead of laughing.

Rebound Comics: Repast the punchline of the last joke to get a laugh from their friends.

Amateur Electricians: Applaud when the lights go down. "Wow, they got one a them rayostat gizmos to work!"

And a special circle of Hell has got to be reserved for the boozed-up twenty-somethings I've encountered in audiences at the Magic Castle recently. One Close-Up Gallery performance last week was ruined by a young woman who pulled the Cosmo away from her lips long enough to loudly exclaim an outraged "WHAT?" every time the magician executed a trick.

My observation -- "You aren't home watching 'Cops.'" -- didn't stop her.

At least I tried.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see a movie with an audience it's the risk you take. I have a pretty awesome home theater, but nothing beats seeing a comedy or crowd pleaser in a huge theater with with a full house. It's the difference between masturbating and real sex with another person...or two or three...

Steven said...

This reminds me of that Becker episode where Becker is trying to see a hit movie without finding out the ending and then when he finally goes (with Margaret I think), the theater is filled with every personality described here and then some.

Also the writers of mst3k made a pretty good living off of talking back to the screen :)

-bee said...

The bedeviling thing about cell phone screens is that they can bother you from a long way off and it may be impossible to actually reach the person to ask them to shut it off.

At least in most instances where somebody's talking bothers me, they are in my vicinity and I can ask them to keep it down, which in my experience they do 9 time out of 10.

Tim W. said...

I'll go one step farther in the no talking request. Don't whisper. Or if you do it, make sure ONLY the person next to you can hear. There's nothing more annoying (okay, there may be a few things) that hearing a couple whispering to each other. I actually told people that if they want to talk to each other, leave the theatre.

And in defense of the commercials being shown, the theatres get so screwed by the distributors, that if they didn't show commercials, then you would be paying literally double for you movie ticket. As for the trailers, I, as well as most people I know, actually enjoy watching them.

Gareth said...

Agree with pretty much all of your points, especially the phone one.

I have 2 that seem to follow me around:

1) The thing I'd like people to remember is that its a public place. Its not your living room. Sitting there going "Oh, he's the one from that TV show..." or "He looks like your cousin John" at full volume is annoying.

2) Another pet hate, and its not a "politically correct" one, is carers taking their mentally challenged patients (not sure of the proper term) to late afternoon showings. YOU might well want to watch 'There Will be Blood', but someone with the mental age of a 6 year old wont know whats going on, and will be very loudly asking "Who's he then?" and "Whats that mean?" all the way through!

Brian said...

I like that Ann Richard's clip, (even though I didn't vote for her) Thanks to the commenter for posting it.

Caillie said...

Too many people use their cell phones as watches, and when they get bored, they look at the phone for the time, without a clue that the light is visible - and annoying - across the theater.

A. Buck Short said...

This is what I like about blog commenting on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You don’t have to act, just react -- which is a lot less strenuous.

A bunch of the old Dallas theaters had what they called “crying rooms” where parents could sit with and infant or four in what was essentially a separate room with its own speaker, that still gave them a full view of the screen though a large picture window. I think the Inwood, was/is? the last of those.

Speaking of age-appropriate, even a vicarious drive-in picture experience could be enough to cause an early 60’s kid’s face to break out ---- or clear up, depending upon which folk legend you subscribe to. (Buddy Hackett circa 1979: “They told me, ‘If you really want to clear up your face, go out and get shtumped.’ I thought it was some kind of medication. So I rushed over to the drug store and asked the pharmacist, ‘Can I get shtumped here?’ He said, ‘Kid, not even with a prescription.'”) There was nothing like rounding a corner on a major interstate highway in the back seat of your parents’ Studebaker, only to be confronted head-on by a huge drive-in screen pretty much facing the road, featuring a Russ Meyer picture. Between them, that Edy Williams and Raven de la Croix could breast feed the entire breakdown lane.

Probably the best and most comprehensive story of the venue is a full color coffee table book entitled The American Drive-In Movie Theater by Don and Susan Sanders here in Dallas. I just went on Amazon to confirm the title, and saw used copies for about $6. More frightening is that 3 new copies were up for between $230 and $600. I will now be spending the rest of the day rummaging through boxes, attempting to confirm that my autographed copy wasn’t in the pile my wife dropped off at Half Price Books.

Finally, in response to another commenter, all should be happy to hear Dallas was lousy with accomplished Tobolowskys. Sure you ought to check out Stephen’s bio and credits, but for eclectic, it’s hard to match his cousin Ed, an attorney who not only practiced before the Supreme Court, but produced such locally shot masterpieces as Curse of the Swamp Creature, It’s Alive!, Zontar the Thing from Venus, Attack of the Eye Creatures and Mars Needs Women in the 60s – some of which are rumored to have had three-figure budgets.

DAVID O'HARA said...


it's that kind off attitude that lets assholes ruin the world. If people are in considerate, THEY SHOULD BE TOLD they are inconsiderate. (Their parents didn't to it - or at least not enough.)

Enjoy your next round of 5 hour golf, or the guy that passes you on your right, or the screeming baby that ruins your expensive dinner, ot cuts in line at the bank.

David O'Hara said...

Rob, you don't have to pay your credit card bill? That's way cool. Where do I apply? How many miles can I get for a box of Milkduds?

JD said...

qwery said: Don't make out sloppily or slide your hands up each other's legs when you're sitting RIGHT NEXT TO SOMEONE.

A trick I learned in college: if people are making out near you, a quick way to stop them is to turn toward them, stare, and smile (one hand down your own pants for affect is an option). If someone near you is talking loudly, or you just want them to move, start making subtle noises yourself that exist somewhere between ecstasy and discomfort. You'll find yourself alone quickly enough. The bottom line is: be proactive; don't expect youngsters making minimum wage to step in and help you out.

Kevin B said...

People that break into applause at the end of a movie. The cast isn't coming out for a curtain call, dummies.

Craig Zablo said...

If you can't afford the Milk Duds without the credit card, uh, you can't afford the Milk Duds. Really.

Don't talk during the previews. Sometimes they are the best part of the movie.

You're not impressing anyone if you give away a scene or say a line with an actor on the screen. So don't do it.

Rank said...

Worthy of Larry David, this wonderful rant.

D. McEwan said...

"A. Buck Short said...
There was nothing like rounding a corner on a major interstate highway in the back seat of your parents’ Studebaker, only to be confronted head-on by a huge drive-in screen pretty much facing the road, featuring a Russ Meyer picture. Between them, that Edy Williams and Raven de la Croix could breast feed the entire breakdown lane."

I often used to wonder if there were higher incidents of traffic acidents near drive-ins for that very reason. You would suddenly be confronted by gigantic movie images, be they Edy Williams's breasts, or someone getting shot to pieces in color and slow-mo, that were awfully damned distracting to drivers, and fascinating to us in the back seats.

For two years in high school I lived a block from the Hi-Way 39 Drive-In in Westminster, CA. When they played DeMille's The Ten Commandments, I went up onto our roof each night at the same time, and watched the Red Sea part again.

Probably the best and most comprehensive story of the venue is a full color coffee table book entitled The American Drive-In Movie Theater by Don and Susan Sanders here in Dallas.

I have that excellent book, which includes photos of specific drive-ins where I had some memorable erotic experieces. Ah nostalgia.

I recall seeing Vincent Price in The Pit and the Pendulum at a drive-in one night (a quadruple-feature of Price-Corman-Poe films. FUN!), and on that last shot where the camera whip pans to a close-up of Barbara Steele's eyes looking out of the iron maiden, hearing that no one would ever enter that room again, you could hear muffled screams coming from cars all over the drive-in.

Peter Bogdanovich's first directoral effort, Targets has it's climax set in a drive-in, with a sniper up in the screen picking off patrons when they open their car doors and their dome lights come on, before being slapped by Boris Karloff. It's a fun-scary look at the drive-ins of old. It was shot at the Reseda Drive-in, which was located (It is no more) just a mile from whre I sit now, typing these words.

WV: behyper: a command one is unlikely to give a five year old.

Chas Cunningham said...

Do not show off your militant feminist creds by going to revival movie houses and loudly hissing at passive female characters from the 1930s or 1940s.

Mary Stella said...

So, Ken and comment folks, what's your opinion of people who loudly laugh at funny movies?

Recently, my friends and I were really enjoying a movie to the point where we laughed out loud at truly funny parts.

I don't think that we were obnoxiously loud. It's not like I was rocking back and forth, slapping my knee and snorting air in and out. Yet, we were subjected to several nasty looks from a couple of people in front of us.

Yeesh. Loosen up those sphincters, folks.

Mike Barer said...

Too many comments to read them all so mine may have already been mentioned. People who OOh and aww continually during the movie. people who say what's going to happen during the movie. When a person sitting next to you doesn't shower or passes gas during a movie. People getting up to go to the bathroom.

Mike said...

I agree with most all annoying things on this list. But I also think that if it's something worth complaining about after the fact, it's also something worth complaining about to the person/theater actually doing it.

A. Buck Short said...

Mary Stella said
Recently, my friends and I were really enjoying a movie to the point where we laughed out loud .... we were subjected to several nasty looks from a couple of people in front of us.

Had the picture not been "The Diary of Anne Frank" I think you might have been on much firmer footing.

RL said...


How is it people don't know this stuff already? I am owed so many free movie do-overs by the perpetrators of such crimes, and they just carry on unaware, serial-committing the same faux-pas over and over.

Have a similar post "Five People to Avoid at the Theater"

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Rob said:
When my wife and I saw Saving Private Ryan, the girl to my right spent the first ten minutes (you know, the slow, boring part of that movie) talking to her friend on her mobile, saying continuously "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU" Then, 15 minutes later we hear a baby crying.

I contributed a little inconvenience to the theater in which I saw Saving Private Ryan. In 1998, I attended a weeklong summer camp at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Being a quickly close-knit group of five aviation enthusiasts, there were many late nights spent talking about planes and poring over navigational charts brought by one of the older campmates (him and another, Phillip, I imagine must be airline pilots by now). These late nights, and a 14-year-old body, led to overwhelming tiredness, which climaxed at a late-night showing at a theater near the beach boardwalk. During the later scene inside the church, I remember seeing it, and then next thing I know, the credits are rolling.

I was duly informed that during the rest of the movie, I had been snoring. Loudly. I was poked many times, and it may have helped briefly, like the times I've been at the movies with my family (parents and sister) when I've had to do the same to my dad, but it started up again, just like my dad's occasional movie theater naps. Perhaps like father, like son in that way, but that's the only time I've ever fallen asleep at a movie theater.

Roger Owen Green said...

Yes, I hate the talking (and the whispering always seems to be sotto voce) and the cellphones.

But I have seen movies where the 1st reel was in focus and a subsequent reel was not.

Of course the actors can't hear but at least since Rocky Horror, it's just going to happen. If it's ca comedy, it's more tolerable.

And yes, there are theaters with showings for parents with children. Might be Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

Taskaf (The artist still known as Frank) said...

Okay, here's another one: "If you have seen the movie before, don't spoil what happens next. Thank you."

danrydell said...

I agree with the "If you don't understand the movie..." comments. I'm watching the movie AT THE EXACT SAME PACE YOU ARE. Don't ask me why a character did something. If you can't wait THAT LONG to find out, movies are not for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what is posted. I go to the movies only a few times a year (young kids make it tough for us), and always find at least one of these incidents.

I had something similar at the theater where I paid $125 for a seat to Jersey Boys. A late 50s gentleman next to me sang all the songs. Badly. Then constantly commented on how great the performers were (they were good, IMO). I think it was that the Subert in Boston allows people to bring their cocktails in the theater now. So, a few with dinner before, one in the lobby, and bringing one it probably made him lighten up.

I left the theatre saying to my friend that the show was good, but I was really pissed to be paying $125 to listen to bad karaoke a few seats away.

Anonymous said...

A great way to ruin an evening: go with a guy who's seen the movie 13 times already who recites the entire script for you while you're watching it. It's irritating enough when someone's shouting out quotes, but the whole film is too much.

My worst movie-going experience was when my husband and I went to see Ray at a now defunct arthouse theater. Behind us was someone on an oxygen machine that made a repeated "hisssss....tick!" noise throught. To their left, a woman who, every time Jamie Fox pulls out a needle to shoot up, exclaimed loudly "Oooh! I hate needles!" He shot up a lot in that film. On top of that, the film broke 3 times. It took us over 3 hours to see the film. Afterward, an usher handed out free movie ticket vouchers to all of us. We never used them.

Tod Hunter said...

A tale of revenge.

This took place at the Sherman Theatre, a lovely litte rep house I worked at in the '80s. If you lived in the Valley at the time and you loved movies, you probably went there.

It was a weekend afternoon screening of Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt." I had selected a seat near the center, three in from the aisle, fortunately, because the auditorium was filling quickly.

A group of five obnoxious yuppies chattered their way in and took the two seats beside me and the three behind me.

The lights went down, the movie started, they kept talking. Occasionally about the movie, occasionally about where they would go to dinner after the show. Full voice, and no matter how strongly or intently I glared at them, none of them dropped dead.

Fortunately, even in those pre-VCR days, I had already seen the film many times and didn't miss much. They, on the other hand, were not only missing plenty, but screwing up the movie for everybody else.

If you haven't seen "Shadow of a Doubt," it has a VERY suspenseful ending, which climxes in classic Hitchcock style with one definitve visual dialogue-free shot.

I saw an opportunity.

As The Shot approached, I bided my time. I was probably paying attention more intently than the people who hadn't seen the movie. Not yet, not yet, not yet... NOW!

I stood up, and quietly politely said "Excuse me" and left, setting into motion a series of events. I distracted the two yuppies beside me. I blocked the view of their three friends behind me. (I even bent over a little as I left, to clear the screen for the people behind but also making the distraction more effective for the talkers.) Everybody else in the audience gasped. Some cheered.

And as I walked up the aisle, I could hear all five of my new friends asking each other "What? What happened?"

I didn't stop smiling for an hour.

I have never had another chance to pull off something like this, and the Sherman was torn down more than 20 years ago, but the memory is still bright and shiny.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Cell phones should be banned! The world got along just fine without them. They have brought out the worst in so many inconsiderate people. And...what happened to the law about not using your phone while driving? Welcome to the jungle...

Anonymous said...

I would also add: don't take off your shoes, especially if they are sneakers and smell like something crawled into them and died several months ago.

This is based on my own experience of watching the cannibal movie Ravenous: the most vile thing about it was the stench of a teenage boy's feet from three rows back.

SailorCallie said...

Thank you so much, Ken! As a fellow movie-goer, I've encountered numbers and numbers of people who ALWAYS break the fucking and a good majority of it is when the parents who are stupid enough to bring their under-aged children to an R-rated movie that contains harsh language, sex scenes, even gory scenes.

There were times when I went to see films such as 'Starship Troopers', '3:10 to Yuma' and even 'Spiderman 2' when I would yell out: IF YOU ASSHOLES DON'T STOP THAT SHIT, I'M GOING TO INFORM THE MANAGER!!, but never did. Some people do NOT have any manners at all. ::mad::

Unknown said...

You do realize that paying for those Milk Duds with a card is actually the speediest option these days?

God forbid the high school age worker behind the register has to figure out how much change to give back to you. No, a credit card swipe for a purchase that generally doesn't need a signature or a receipt? Far quicker than finding out if Dick & Jane can count.

Nino Mojo said...

"In France, whatever else you want to say about them..."

I'm french. Am I right to be offended by that?

Eric said...

One thing that doesn't necessarily bother me but which I've never understood are audiences who clap when the movie is ever. This happened when I went to a sold-out showing of "Slumdog Millionaire" around Christmas time of '08. This makes sense at concerts and other live performances, but not at movies.It's not as if the actors onscreen can hear you, so who are you applauding? The projectionist?

D. McEwan said...

"Nino Mojo said...
I'm french. Am I right to be offended by that?"

If you're French, you're apt to be offended by anything, so go right ahead. The rest of the world has long since adopted the policy of shrugging it off with a "What can you expect. They're French."

"Mary Stella said...
Recently, my friends and I were really enjoying a movie to the point where we laughed out"

You were laughing at a comedy? What comedy? God, I remember when comedies were funny.

Some eyars ago I was appearing onstage in Twelfth Night. It was a pretty funny production, and most nights we got lots of laughs, but one night the audience was a class of high school students who had been assigned to see it. No laughs. They were all busy taking notes. Every time a laugh should have come, they instead we heard pens scratching on paper.

We had a serious accident onstage one night in the comic sword duel, and I got stabbed in the face with a sword. (True) The woman who directed it, sitting in the audience, gasped out an "Oh my God!"

She was loudly and angrily shushed by the person sitting in front of her.

Anonymous said...

I had a guy texting his way through a movie last year, I finally just leaned in to him (he was in front of me) and told him to put it away or I would shove it down his throat. My favorite was the day my brother in-law and I went to see Jackie Brown. In the next row over a couple saw fit to bring their 4 year old. Unbelievable!

Bryan Simmons

BigTed said...

I recently had a couple sit right next to me in a half-empty theater... and it was at Century City, where you reserve your seats in advance. They must have actually looked at the seating chart and decided it was more important for them to sit exactly where they wanted than to leave any breathing room between them the people who'd already made their reservations. That was a whole new low in rudeness to me.

Jimi James said...

Nice rant. Had me snickering as usual. But Ken, with the credit card rant you've crossed over into "damn kids get off my lawn" old man territory. I just recently heard a bunch of eighty year olds complaining about this at the local donut shop.
You are aware that for about twenty or so years most banks have been allowing for their atm cards to be used as debit cards? Many people under a hundred are taking advantage of this advanced technology. No need to carry a bulging wallet full of hundreds through the skeezy part of town or what have you.
But I go to the theater to WATCH A MOVIE. Not to munch popcorn or play with freaking candy wrappers.

45 is the new 30 said...

Please, PLEASE arrive on time, and find a seat before the movie starts ... and, preferably, before the previews start. (I like to watch the previews!) If you come late, do not expect me to smile and shift over three seats to my right so that you can sit on the aisle and not have to climb over me. I arrived when I did - that is to say, before the start of the movie - because I, too, like to sit on the aisle.

Once you're in your seat, please try to stay there until the lights go back up. We all have to "go" from time to time, but if you or your companion has bladder control issues and will need to use the restroom 42 times during the course of the movie -- come early and score an aisle seat! Don't try to sit in the dead center of the row even if you prefer that vantage point. And don't expect me to be happy about your shlepping over me ad infinitum while the movie is playing. And, once you and your 15 friends are seated in your various rows, please don't try to carry on an ongoing dialogue or share your tub of popcorn across the various rows ... especially once the lights go down!

If the theatre is crowded and it's obvious that seating is going to be pretty darn close to sold out, please don't try to make sure that the seat next to you stays empty by placing your coat or handbag on it, just because you like extra breathing room. And, geesh, don't compound the issue by lying about the person "who will be sitting there" being at the concession stand. (Amazingly, most of those people "at the concession stand" will remain there for the entire duration of the movie.) I don't like to be smooshed, either, but I also resent not being able to find a seat in a row in which five people claim to be "saving" empty seats next to them, but are, in reality, just enjoying the extra space.

Younger kids who repeatedly kick the back of the seat in front of them - my seat, of course - throughout the entire movie: FAIL.

Groups of texting, hormonal, giggly adolescents who are too rude or self-absorbed to SHUT UP while a movie is playing - EPIC fail.

Corinne said...

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.

I remember 3 years ago when my then 5th grader came home and told me that some of his classmates had seen HANNIBAL over the weekend. Whaa??

On a rare date night out (read: visiting parents babysitting our kid) my husband & I went to see the first Austin Powers movie and there was a guy and his kids who were both under the age of 10, iirc.

Parents: Read the reviews. If you still can't decide, find a friend who may have seen the movie and ask them. Or wait until it comes out on video.

And if you can only pay for Milk Duds with a credit card I offer this suggestion: Buy them at the supermarket and bring a backpack with you to the movies. My husband occasionally buys kids packs at the movies (popcorn, drink and skittles) for $5.50 and he's never been carded :-)

Anonymous said...

For all the shenanigans we movie lovers have to endure just to see a film on the big screen, I'd hate for the experience to be just totally dry and sterile. The mood of the crowd does influence how you see the movie. It can even enhance the experience.
I remember seeing the Matrix in Japan and those people were just quiet and proper, staring at the screen intently, like a college lecture or a homework assignment. We rowdy foreigners were whooping it up (not really, by Ken's standards), just getting into the action scenes. Same with Phantom Menace. Oh yeah, nobody was whooping it up for that one. Universal disappointment and palpable hostility, regardless of nationality.

Michael Jones said...

I sat through all those comments agreeing with all of them and then the comment I was going to make was stated by iamacat. Japanese audiences are incredibly well-behaved and they sit through the entire movie, including the end credits. I like to see who was involved in the movie and there are so many flicks that have a revelation after the credits that it's worth sitting through them. Unfortunately my friends don't share my enthusiasm and want to leave as soon as the letters start scrolling.

Unknown said...

I once sat in a movie with an ex-girlfriend and her sister. Behind us three guys talking. For about 45 minutes.

I turned around and told them to shut up. They didn't. My GFs said I should stop it.

I stood up and got the manager. He came, told them to shut up, which they did. It's as easy as that. You just have to have the balls to do it instead of ranting about it in the comment section of a blog.

Oh my Girlfriend didn't talk to me for a week by the way because she thought that I was embarassing her in front of her sister.

She seemed really annoyed about my behavior in the movie theater...

And if that wasn't subtle enough: only because you think somethings not right at the movies doesn't mean that you are right about it. Noise complaints I can understand, but so many of the rest of the things that were mentioned here are commonplace at the movies and you folks should either do something about it and deal with the consequences or - well - shut up. Commenting on a blog about it doesn't change the world. There's been so much hot air in this thread we could power a couple of houses with it.

I mean seriously. "The previews could be the best about the whole movie" - "The previews give away the whole plot of a movie"

When you are going to the movies to watch previews you are doing something wrong. You commented here, you have a computer, visit and get every preview you could wish for in HD and watch it as many times as you want. And if you are able to read your watch without any light I complement you for your nightvision goggles you seem to wear. A two second flash of a cellphone screen breaking your concentration, especially when the calderas of the actual screen should be enough light to occupy both your retinas. And if you think you should decide what parents do or not do with their kids - congratulations on being a good parent for YOUR kids.

I get that you are all annoyed by noise. I am too. But don't bring up bogus arguments why people shouldn't be in the cinema in the first place. I mean if there were parents bringing their kids to a slasher movie and the kid would just sit there frightened, not saying a word, not making a single sound, getting scarred FOR LIFE you wouldn't stand up and say ANYTHING. You are just annoyed because you are bothered by kids. Congratulations.

SailorCallie said...

Here's a suggestion: If you don't want to waste 90 minutes to 2 hours watching a movie in a crowded theater with idiots who constantly break the rules, either wait for the film to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital Download/Video On Demand or, as I would normally do, read the entire plot on Wikipedia.

Unknown said...


The way people build a consensus and get changes made is by encouraging like-minded people to take action. That isn't done by getting the manager once, but by encouraging others out there that they aren't alone in their thinking or their actions.

If more are encouraged to act, then maybe there are a few less of these incidents popping up because people realize they might get kicked out.

And those of us complaining about parents bringing their babies, toddlers and the like to 9pm and later showings of R rated movies just hate kids? No. We just recognize an almost 100% guaranteed disruption to the movie that the parents selfishly brought with them. My wife and I both love kids. Part of loving kids leads to not wanting to see selfish parents drag them to movies they have no business seeing and expose them to folks that will be angry at the source of the noise almost as much as the parents that brought them. Part of loving kids, also, leads to knowing how they're likely to react in those environments.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for setting us straight. You're right, we shouldn't complain.

Your complaints about our complaints will make us all better movie goers and parents.

Thanks again!!

Unknown said...

What I said is this: people who complain here usually don't complain at the movies.

If only half of those who pee their pants when a kid is loud and/or in the wrong place at the wrong time stood up and talked to the parents or to a manager of the cinema, then things would actually change. That's what I believe.

Commenting anonymous and then without signature about it kind of proves my point. As long as nobody can track you and take you into account for your whining, nothing will change.

wv: pious - oh the irony :-)

SailorCallie said...

Hey, Ken! Here's an article from my hometown NBC affiliate about a movie-going incident that happened in Southern California:

Talk about just plain rude.

A Cunning Stunt said...

I know this post is ancient, but I am compelled to add my two cents:

No, I will not "just move down a few seats" so you and your entourage can sit together. I got here first, which means I got to choose the seat I wanted. If you desire the same luxury, you and your 20 idiot friends need to show up earlier next time. Until then, tough nuts.

Anonymous said...

Omg...I can so relate. I can't stand people like that...they arrive late and sit RIGHT in front of you when there are so many more maybe one row down or two rows down...even three rows down...all those seats are free but nope...they have to awkwardly sit right in front of you...I think they just want our attention...even though it is negative...ugh!