Much like public transportation or fire drills, moviegoing is an institution that brings people together. Sometimes, one person’s perception on how to behave in said situation differs from another, and that’s where you run into problems. In my best attempt to alleviate this conflict at the cinema, please read on to see things you should absolutely not be doing as a theater-goer.
Eating Smelly Food
Technically, you shouldn’t be eating anything from outside the theater, but any frequent movie-goer knows that this is an oft-ignored rule. If you are going to rebel against the outside food policy, do everyone else a favor and keep it to something that doesn’t invade my nostrils as I’m watching video games invade the Earth.
I have to confess I tend to be guilty of this sometimes. I can’t help but guffaw at some of the horror trailers coming out these days because they can be so predictable. However, during the movie, if you’re laughing during a heartstring-pulling moment, try to stifle it if you can. Some of us romantics are trying to enjoy Paper Towns.
(Indiscreet) Phone Activity
We hear this one time and again before every screening to please silence or turn off your phones, but this is probably still the most prevalent etiquette breach in the modern theater. I actually qualify this as “Indiscreet” because I think it is possible to give your phone a quick check without distracting anyone else in the theater. If you’re having two separate, loud conversations with someone on your phone during the hard-to-watch scenes in 12 Years a Slave (sadly, I actually experienced this), you’ve crossed the line.
Also, props to Alamo Drafthouse for calling this out in a impressively bold and funny way.
Bringing Small Children
To head off some of the flak I anticipating getting from this, no, I’m not a parent, and no, I don’t mean all children. Inside Out is a kid’s movie, and if your kid can sit through a movie without screaming or needing to run around, I would love to share a theater with you and your child. I will happily put on my “daww” face when the theater explodes with children laughing and even allow the innocent questions kids ask about what’s happening. But if a game of tag is going on in the aisle next to me, there’s going to be a problem.
Frequent Bathroom Trips
I get it, when you have to go, you have to go, but you’re the kind of person that has to go A LOT, maybe try to grab yourself an aisle seat so everyone you have to get by to leave the theater doesn’t have to get up and go through the awkward process of letting you through. Ben from the STASHED recently wrote about this particular annoyance as part of his NerdyForThirty challenge, so I know I’m not alone on this.
If you get stuck with a middle seat, I would suggest getting RunPee on your phone to avoid a climactic sequence or consult this handy flow chart below.
In conclusion, the Golden Rule for these situations is please try to respect everyone else’s experience with the movie!
Everyone will be happier and have a better moviegoing experience. We go to the movies to become completely absorbed into another world, and nothing hurts that more than disruption from your fellow viewers.