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We’ve all been there. You waited for a weekday afternoon showing of The Avengers to avoid the frenzy of long lines and crowded theatres, just to end up having the experience ruined for you by one loud, raucous, candy-rustling patron sitting directly behind you in an empty theatre. If only he had read a few guidelines first…

Rules to keep in mind while at a movie theatre…

• Cell Phones

So, cell phones are a reality, and, as we are all basically tethered to them 24/7, it can sometimes be hard to shove them away for 2 hours to watch a movie. You can do it. Trust us. Now, it’s perfectly okay to check facebook and texts during the commercials & previews before the movie, but when the lights finally go dim, so should your phone. It is NOT OKAY to text or receive calls during the film.

If you absolutely have to answer a text or something (if, perhaps, you are on an organ donor list waiting for a kidney, or a prospective employer is supposed to call) exit the theatre, or at least go to a location where you will not be bothering anyone.

Noises and ringtones aside, all smart phones have this one thing in common… a VERY bright screen. If you’re sitting in the front row, all 200+ people behind you will be affected. We can see the blinding-light all the way in the back row, and short of screaming across the theatre at you, there’s not much we can do about it.

Stow the phone. If for some reason you absolutely cannot control the urge to tweet during the movie, at least sit in the back corner of the theatre where your antics will bother the least number of people.

• Seating

Now, you might not think that seating in a theatre has rules… but it does. We like to call these our “Common Courtesy Theatre Seating Rules”. At crowded midnight premieres, any seat is fair game. The early bird gets the worm in those cases, and if you are the 1st in line for the 1st showing, you have earned your place.

Now, on a slow Tuesday afternoon, the rules are completely different.

First of all, NEVER sit directly in front of someone that is already seated. This will be taken as a sign of aggression and treated as such, especially if you are the only ones in the theatre.

In order to stay within the rules, don’t sit within three seats of anyone you aren’t with. That means three to the right or left. Try to leave at least a row or two in between as well.

Now, some of you may see this as an overreaction, but there is something unsettling about a person that chooses to sit uncomfortably close to a stranger when it’s completely unwarranted. Do your part to help everyone’s theatre-going experience, respect personal space when it’s possible.

• Noises

There are some noises that are understandable: sneezing, a shoe squeak, even a chair screech when you lean back. It happens and is completely excusable, but those incidental noises are few and far between.

As a courtesy to those around you, try to eliminate the noises you make as much as possible. That means: opening your $5 box of candy, putting the straw in your beverage, pop the top on that bottle of coke you conveniently snuck into your purse, take your coat off, and tell your neighbor that joke your friend sent you on Facebook before the previews end.

We’re all bound to cause some noises at some point, but just be mindful that everyone should do their best to keep it to a minimum considering we’re stuck with each other for next 90 minutes.

It’s not too much to ask. After all, you probably spent somewhere around $8-$10 to get into the movie in the 1st place, and in this economic climate, those are precious pennies.

• Reactions

Lastly, and it seems silly to even have to mention, please keep reactions appropriate and timely. At a comedy, it is totally acceptable to laugh out loud for as long as you find it funny. At a horror film, a short high-pitched scream when the demon rears its ugly face in full view of the camera is perfectly understandable.

However, singing along at a musical, hysterically laughing at the unrealistic CGI in an action movie, or pointing out every historical inaccuracy in that period drama are simply unacceptable.

Those are reactions to save for your private viewing in your home 6 months later while watching the blu-ray. Again, this rule is mainly about respect. It’s horrifically disrespectful to others, who are just trying to enjoy a film, to have over-the-top reactions to everything that happens on screen during a 90 minute film that we all paid $10+ to get into.

Now, we understand involuntary noises as there’s nothing you can do about a snort of derision at some really bad writing, but leave it at that.

• Talking

Talking in a theatre has been a problem for as long as theatres have existed. It’s rude, disruptive, and annoying. This includes both talking to your neighbor in hushed whispers, as well as talking out loud at the characters on screen.

That hushed whisper you think you are using to address the actress’ chronic lip biting is not as hushed as you think. If there is anyone within 2 rows of you, chances are they can hear you as well. Now, one comment here and there is one thing, we can overlook it and not be too distracted, but the couple behind us talking about how Richard Gere has changed a lot since Pretty Woman and how this scene reminds them of that funny thing their grandchild did last week have crossed the line. Have that conversation after the movie over coffee at the Starbucks located conveniently a block away.

And now for you screen-talkers. The characters can’t hear you. The plot is not going to change because you yell “No!” at the screen. The steady stream of advice for the main character will go unheard by those on-screen because they aren’t actually there. We understand that it might take a minute or two to end the habit, but at least learn to keep it under control.

Summing it up

The main question here is: Am I doing something that is going to bother some else? If the answer is yes, chances are whatever you are doing can wait until the movie is over. If it absolutely can’t, then step out. We all have the right to enjoy the movie we have paid good money to see, and if we all keep each other in mind, things can go a lot smoother. This may be a digital age, but we can remember those classic manners that time has tested decades before.

Did we miss anything? What kinds of things distract you in the theatre? Or do you just want to confess your guilt… Feel free to sound off in the comments below!

  • RussellTurner

    Dont bring a baby!

    • http://twitter.com/NatashaPeartree Natasha Pereira

      omg, preach!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1683360003 Paige Barton

      I know, right??? One time I saw a woman bring in what looked like a 3 month old. I mean, really?

      • http://www.facebook.com/katgiambruno Kat Giambruno

        I have a two year old and I would NEVER take her to a movie! We just wait till summer and go to the drive ins.

      • stargazer

        I saw one bring what looked like it was only about four weeks old, to an action-packed explosion-rocked movie, no less. Yeesh!

        • stargazer

          (Poor grammar. I’m sorry. I should have reread it before posting. But you get my point)

  • Ash

    I’d like to add to NOT bring your infant child into a movie theater. The child is clearly not there to see the movie, you were just unsuccessful at getting a baby sitter, or didn’t even try. It makes me crazy when people bring their infants or even newborns to the movie theater. Those children don’t know any better than to cry or scream when they need something, so the ADULT should know better than to bring them to a place like that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=121203055 Katie ‘ktb’ Bryant

      Agreed. And depending on the age of the small child, it can also be damaging to them. Bringing an infant to a movie that is full of loud booms and bright, flashing lights can cause permanent damage since they’re still growing and developing.

  • http://twitter.com/Siriusnerd007 Kristen Keys

    No kicking or laying your feet in the seat in front of you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=731070910 Fiolla Korenica

      I definitely agree about the no kicking, but I think laying your feet in the seat in front of you is fine AS LONG AS the row in front is completely or near enough empty, because movie-goers don’t want feet leering near their face :P

      • http://twitter.com/Siriusnerd007 Kristen Keys

        Agreed if no one is there then it’s perfectly fine!!

  • charlton

    Bravo! This should be where everyone can read it.

  • ravenclaw1991

    When my grandma and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, some idiot had a five year old in there.. I realise the movie was PG, but that was too young of a child to bring. During the scene when Ron gets poisoned, the child cried and yelled “IS HE DEAD?” I wanted to beat the parent for bringing a child that young.

    Another thing was when I saw Deathly Hallows Part 1 with my friend. She took off her coat halfway through the movie and hit me in the face with the sleeve.. Then during the scene in Godric’s Hollow when Harry is fighting Nagini, she jumps up and runs out of the theatre because that part was scary apparently..

    This is a brilliant article! :)

  • kelsey0403

    If you have the tendency to fall asleep watching movies, don’t waste your money at the theatre!

    When I went to see Les Mis, there was a guy behind me who was literally snoring (very loudly, I might add) through the ENTIRE movie, even after my friend went up to wake him up. Totally ruined the whole damn thing.

  • Just Sayin’

    I agree with nearly everything except for two very important things.

    1. Regarding your seating rules. Mostly I agree. BUT… I am like Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory). I sit in the same spot during EVERY show. If that seat is not taken when I walk in the theatre, That is where my butt is headed. I don’t care if someone is sitting in the row behind or in front of those seats. Granted, if someone is seated next to my favorite seats, I will be courteous and move over one so that there is a one-seat gap in between us.

    2. Keep your freakin’ babies at home. If you can’t find someone to sit for you, then don’t go to the movies. And for Gods sake DO NOT bring them to adult movies. And if you do insist on bringing them to the movies, 1st: make sure it is at least a kids movie so that all of the kid chatter slightly muffles the whining baby. 2nd: take them out as soon as they begin to cry. Don’t try to calm the stupid kid down because they will just continue to cry. There should be an age restriction sign on the door of the movie theater. “Babies Keep Out.” Or “No Babies Allowed between the ages of …”

  • Gary65

    Not that I don’t appreciate your immense talent Kristen, but is anyone else slightly disappointed that Richard didn’t write this?

    That aside, everything said here could not be more true. You go to the theatre to escape for a few hours into another world, not into the mundane life of the guy sitting 2 rows away. Zip it or stay at home.

    • http://www.eigakanthemovietheater.blogspot.com Jenny Leigh

      I totally saw the title and went “Richard!!!” :p But then I was pleasantly surprised.

  • hpboy13

    The only one I disagree with is the whole “sit far away from people” thing. There’s a reason everyone wants to sit in a certain area – ie. the middle. And the middle fills up fairly quickly. So no, I will not go sit in the corner just because you don’t want people next to you.

    Also, about the noises, I feel that should come with an asterick. I feel that after a few weeks, it becomes fair game. I would never go to see Hannah Montana the movie opening weekend and ruin the experience for the zillion teenage girls who’ve been dreaming of that moment. Two months into its theatrical run, I don’t feel at all bad going to see it with my friends to laugh loudly at all the most “tragic” moments – the two other people in the theater can’t be all that invested, or they would’ve seen it sooner.

    That said, THE CELL PHONES!!! I was watching Hunger Games and during Rue’s death the girl next to me takes out her phone to start tweeting. And this was at the movie’s 8pm release!! I mean, how horrible a person do you have to be?

    • Brooke

      Why would you pay money to see a movie you DON’T like, just to make fun of it and ruin it for others? That seems stupid and rude.

      P.S. Don’t sit by me lol. Follow the rules.

  • http://twitter.com/Aerilon9 Karina Garcia

    It is NEVER ok to use your phone! Not even all the way in the back because those are my favorite seats and believe me, your screen annoys me!

  • http://twitter.com/eiVega eiVega

    I agree with the comments about not bringing a baby to the theater. That’s a definite no-no. As for the article, I think there is some flexibility with the seating in an empty theater. I once went and there was only one couple there but they had the perfect seats. I didn’t want to move too far away from center so I think I was slightly off-set from them in front but still close. Then another group came later and sat right by us. Everyone just ended up sitting next to each other though the overall theater was empty. It was almost like no one wanted to be alone in the wings. It actually made it feel full with everyone sitting together. I enjoyed the illusion of a crowd. Everyone was just screw-it, I want good seats, I’m not going to sit far away to keep a “cushion.” We had our space, but not the minimum allotted as described here. We were all within the same few rows. There were only a few of us and we shared the experience together. I guess it depends on the situation. Definitely no one should just sit right next to a stranger in the immediate seat if there are other options. I just think it’s flexible how much cushion is necessary.

  • http://twitter.com/theaterandi Adele Ivy

    One time I was in the theatre to see “House At The End Of The Street” and had, I swear, the worst experience ever. There was a ton of middle schoolers (I hope they were, they were not mature at all) who talked the entire time LOUDLY(!) and at one point when I looked back and rolled my eyes (I couldn’t help it!) three of them threw things at my friend’s and my head! It was completely awful.

  • Cait

    So agree about the cell phones! I have to warn friends of mine that if they pull out a cell phone to text during the movie, I will move to a different seat away from them. When I went to see Les Miserables for the first time, the girl next to my sister started texting during I Dreamed A Dream. Really, that was the moment you chose to start texting and not stop until the end of the movie? I don’t have a problem telling those next to me to put their phones away though.

    Another thing I thought wouldn’t be a problem is iPods. I work at a movie theater and at a midnight showing of Breaking Dawn, I had to tell a girl to stop listening to her iPod, or at least turn the screen off, during the movie. Why would you listen to your iPod during a movie you paid $11 for?!

  • Chrisd333

    Oh so true. When I saw les mis there was this group of teenagers who wouldn’t stop talking and laughing, had feet up on chairs in front of them & at one point pointed a laser at the screen. Still a good movie but I was sitting angrily through it having to put up with that.

  • Glaciusx

    “However, singing along at a musical, hysterically laughing at the unrealistic CGI in an action movie, or pointing out every historical inaccuracy in that period drama are simply unacceptable.”

    LOL. That killed me. I agree with you about he freakin’ cell phones! People these days can’t sit through a movie without checking their dumb facebook notifications. I mean, really? Come on.

  • Stacie

    THANK YOU so much for mentioning the seating issue. I tend to go to a lot of movies through the week when there’s pretty much no one there, so uh, yeah, it’s very distracting and uncomfortable when someone seats like one seat away from me or directly in front. I mean, jeez, you got the whole theater to pick from! I get that at a theater you can sit wherever the heck you want, but an empty theater can get quite uncomfortable. I like to have my personal space, especially at a movie where I might start sobbing. If that happens I really don’t want some stranger sitting directly there by me. So thank you for pointing that out. I get highly annoyed when this happens to me.

  • Jen

    As a frequent weekday cinema-goer, I wish all people read these rules. It drives me insane.

  • Jessica

    An addition regarding the noise: don’t chew with your mouth open! I can’t STAND people chewing like cows so I can’t hear the movie over their chewing noises. Ew.

    Also, if you or your friend is too dumb and/or has too short an attention span to follow the movie so someone needs to explain to you what is going on, wait till you can watch at home and pause it to figure out what’s going on.

    Regarding cell phones: I admit, I sometimes check my phone if a movie is getting kind of boring or something, but I use an app called Screen Filter that can turn the back light way down, so at least it’s tolerable. And I do sit in the back, usually.

    Oh, and I’m definitely with you on the seating thing–I know someone who went to the theatre with her family and some guy sat right next to her mom and partway through the movie they realized he was, well, doing something inappropriate…ick.

  • Jessica

    For me the biggest annoyance is midnight release fans. I mean, seeing as I’ve been to them, I’m one of those moviegoers. But I can’t stand the incessant cheering and shouting and comments, especially during quiet or poignant moments. Like at Hunger Games premiere, people were cheering during Cato’s death. And Marvel’s. And anyone else’s who wasn’t Rue. It’s ridiculous. I get that people are excited at midnight premiers, but sometimes the fans make it more about the fandom’s jokes and “fan experience” than like, the actual movie we came to see.

  • Delena

    Perfect! Thank you for posting this. So many of my friends behave so badly in movie theaters, that I end up going to showings by myself to try and decrease my chance of someone talking to me throughout the entire movie and taking their phones out. I go to the theater TO WATCH FILMS. I know going to the movies is a social thing, but at the same time it’s like–please be respectful.

  • Mariah

    Remember, there is a special level of hell reserved for you if you talk at the movie theater, according to a good friend of mine. Seriously, shut up and at least let others enjoy the movie!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alysia.dugan Alysia Dugan

    I don’t get to see movies in theaters very often, which is why certain instances seem to stick with me for a long time. I will simply say this: both times I saw GoF, some idiot brought a kid under 5 with them, and both times those kids started crying when Voldemort came back to life. If it weren’t for the fact that I’d be arrested, I would have choked those little bastards’ parents. If people have told you that a movie has some tense or scary moments in it, don’t bring your damn toddler with you and expect them not to cry. In fact, don’t bring a toddler with you at all for any movie, because everyone knows they cannot sit still and stay quiet for more than maybe 30 minutes.

  • normalizboring

    no feet on the seats! stop kicking my freaking chair people!

  • Jinnal

    I went to see The Hunger Games opening night and someone thought it would be funny to bring a laser-pointer and flash it on the screen while the movie was playing. It totally ruined the movie-going experience for me.

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