Is Cell Phone Use In Theaters The Future? Some Think So
Every few years the executives in Hollywood begin to grouse about their bottom-lines. You’ll hear it occasionally: “box office ticket sales are lagging,” or “piracy is killing our movie business,” and the ever popular “we’re not making money like we used to.” You know, it’s tough out there for today’s Hollywood elite to be making billions and billions instead of trillions. Whenever these discussions begin, we always have to listen to the reasoning behind these “low” ticket sales (which, is almost always following a record setting year, so it’s sort of a false generalization on the executives parts): piracy, increased competition from television and the internet, and home video rentals are almost always blamed. But the one thing almost no one mentions is the reason I absolutely hate going to the theater these days: the terrible patrons.
Every time I go to the movies I’m astounded at the lack of civility presented by the audience. I don’t want to sound like old man grumpus here, but every time I see a movie I have to put up with people talking through the movie (or people who narrate the film we’re watching by announcing what is happening on the screen), showing up late and looking for prime seating, or my favorite: dicking around with their cell phones at eye level (you know, so everyone can see your awesome iPhone).
If I had to point to anything as reason for waning audiences the lack of… manners… presented by large swaths of the filmgoing audience would be it. Hell, I even quit going to new movies in the theater (instead opting for Netflix rentals) until I started writing for GFBR, and even now I try to go to the movies on less trafficked days.
Well, according to Deadline, reporting from a panel at CinemaCon, there are some in the industry who think that relaxing the already mostly unenforced cell phone restrictions might make younger audiences flock back to the theater. So that they… can… ignore the movie while sitting in the theater.
Representatives from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, and IMAX voiced their concerns with losing the teen crowd because they aren’t allowed to talk or text during a film. IMAX’s Greg Foster cited his teenage son’s cell phone use as being a reason he thinks this. “We want [teens] to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence.” Hey, Greg, I also pay to see those movies and I’ve become accustomed to, ya know, seeing the movie without interruptions.
Not all the folks on the panel were pro-phone use. Tim League, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse, was adamant that his chain will never allow talking or texting during a film. The predominantly Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse theater chain recently announced plans to open a new theater in New York City.
It’s good to see that not all industry folks have lost their minds regarding this issue. I don’t necessarily need a theater as well-kept as the Drafthouses supposedly are, but I’d like to see theaters start with something easy like ushers in-theater all the time. When’s the last time you saw an usher except at the credits cleaning up the theater?
So, where do you fall on this issue? Would you rather be able to text during movies?