In the 20 years that I have been on this Earth, I have loved going to the movies. As a child, it was a monumental experience. I would see trailers and commercials, as well as toys lining the aisles of Target before a movie even came out and I would beg my mom to take me to the theater to go see it the weekend it came out. Now that I’m older, I have a MoviePass and I enjoy going to the theater with friends or just going to enjoy the experience alone. My taste in movies has expanded with time, which is great because there are so many options today when it comes to seeing a film.
Yet, at a time when the movie business is booming, movie theaters are struggling. According to the Wall Street Journal, box office sales were down 2 percent in 2017, which is the first time they’ve taken a hit since 1995.
There are a lot of reasons you could attribute this to. Blockbuster films have become largely unoriginal and the amount of sequels in theaters is unprecedented. However, I’m here to talk about an issue we all face that makes going to the movies a potentially harrowing experience: the other people in the theater.
At the beginning of every movie, at every theater I have ever been too, there is a screen that comes up that usually reads something along the lines of “Please be respectful. Silence your cellphones for the duration of the film.” Funny enough, people don’t. Not only that, but they’ll go even further to disrupt the movie and be a general nuisance.
Recently, I had an experience that took my frustration with this phenomenon of insensitivity to a new level. I went to see the film “A Quiet Place” in the theater shortly after it came out earlier this year. I was pretty excited for the film and to see what antics John Krasinski was up to in his post-apocalyptic directorial debut. The film did a masterful job at building suspense, the soundtrack was subdued and much of the movie had no spoken dialogue, so much so that the silence was often overwhelming. Or at least that’s what I heard from some people who saw the movie with a different audience.
Instead, I was sitting in front of a group of teenagers who talked the entire movie. Their conversation didn’t stop once. They were talking so much that at one point I was concerned we would run out of oxygen in the theater and all asphyxiate. I was infuriated. This movie that was built upon silence was ruined for me because of the people behind me. There was a particularly intense scene where one of the girls in the group started laughing. This wasn’t some kind of subdued chuckle, this was a full on guffaw. A baby was about to get killed by a monster! First of all, why are you laughing at all? Secondly, just stop making noise.
There have been multiple times I have been in theaters and people take out their phones and use them with full brightness which is incredibly distracting. People walk in late or sit in seats that they didn’t reserve, which inevitably turns into a conflict when you’re seeing a sold-out movie the weekend that it opens.
Paying the minimum $14 it takes to see a movie is frustrating when its ruined by other people. I don’t care if they squander their money and time, but they shouldn’t be allowed to ruin mine in the process. I have seen people take phone calls in the middle of movies. Others have had their babies in a loud R-rated film that inevitably makes them start crying and then they don’t step out of the theater. I understand that bringing kids to the movies is a nice family night out. However, you should realize when they are getting in the way of everyone enjoying the movie. I’m not even referring to Pixar or Dreamworks movies. I understand that. Those are kids movies, that’s par for the course. It shouldn’t be the case otherwise.
This is important, especially now with many theaters trying to make the experience more luxurious and the phenomenon of restaurant theaters becoming more widespread. People chew with their mouths open and seem to be able to eat as loudly as they possibly can. I understand this is a risk you take going to one of these theaters but have some courtesy.
Theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse chain adamantly oppose these kinds of disruptive behaviors and have a reputation for kicking people out who commit them. You aren’t allowed to walk into the movie late, use your phone or make a ruckus in general.
More theaters need to take on a policy like this. It would benefit the reputation of the theaters and make the experience more enjoyable, which will in turn make them more ready to drop the steep price of a movie ticket.