It may make me sound a bit like a curmudgeon, but I hate it when people text during movies. If it were up to me, texting would be banned from movie theaters. (It’s one reason I watch a lot of movies at home on Blu-Ray or DVD. That and the popcorn is more affordable).
Listening to our listener feedback show, many of you agree with this statement. But it appears those of us who want to enjoy the movie going experience free of annoying texters could be the minority. And it appears that some movie chains actually think texting teenagers is a good thing to have.
At the recent CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, there was a lively debate among theater owners about texting and its place within the theater. The Los Angeles Times’ Patrick Goldstein says that some of the studios there see a value in not “handcuffing” kids by banning texting in theaters.
“You’re trying to figure out of there’s something you can offer in the theater that I would not find appealing but my 18-year-old son might,” said Amy Miles, president of Regal Cinemas.
IMAX Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster also seemed to be in favor of relaxing standards for movie goers. He noted that his 17-year-old son “constantly has his phone with him,” adding that “we want [youths] to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their existence.” A cell phone ban might make them “feel a little handcuffed.”
However, that doesn’t mean that texting isn’t currently frowned on by the rules in theaters.
“Customer etiquette is a big deal with us,” Miles said. “We strongly discourage any cell phone usage in our theaters. So we weren’t trying to convey to the world that we had a new policy on texting—we do not.”\
Miles acknowledged that theater officials had discussed trying ways to create a more interactive environment in certain auditoriums, but both operational and piracy concerns had stopped the chain from pursuing any texting experiments. “Even if kids’ habits are different, we’re never going to bring that generational issue into our theaters.”
Foster was just as insistent. “There is no way we would ever allow texting at IMAX theaters. We are the last bastion of showmanship for filmmakers who make great works of art and we would never encourage anything that interferes with the audience being allowed to enjoy the immersiveness of that experience. Our patrons pay a premium ticket price and they expect a premium cinema experience.”
Personally, I’d love to see all theaters adopt the standards of the Alamo Draft House where any cell phone use during a showing is grounds for being escorted from the film. But am I alone in this or are there others who feel the same way? And how about those of you who want to be able to text during a movie? Weigh in in the comments and let us know how you feel.