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!

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