Movie Manners: 10 Tips on How Not to Be a Jerk at the Movies
Everyone wants to have a good time at the movies. After all, that's why we go to the movies. But it seems as if movie manners have taken a turn for the worse in recent years. Blame it on cell phones or the rise of home theaters or just people being all-around selfish, more and more people are complaining about the behavior of their fellow audience members to the point where theater chains are actually considering having special screenings for people who like to talk, text or bring screaming babies to movies.
But instead of theaters encouraging the use of cell phones during movies or other rude behavior, we instead think people should just follow these ten quick tips on how not to be the worst person at the movies. It's not hard, we promise, and it will make going to the movies better for everyone.
While this is the problem people complain about the most, it's also a problem that is become more and more prevalent. Despite numerous reminders at the beginning of the movie to silence your phone and no talking or texting during the movie, some audience members have no problem texting or answering phone calls during a film. It's really easy: when you're at a movie, turn the phone off. It's one button. Just push it. If you're bored, go home! If you're too busy, maybe reschedule the movie for another time. Or if an emergency comes in, leave the theater and take the phone call in the lobby. Trust us, the world can survive not hearing from you for two hours.
The tragic shooting at a Colorado theater left a lot of people debating whether it's OK to bring an infant or a 6-year-old to a midnight showing of a movie. Let's put aside for a moment the content of the film (which is debatable at best for a 6-year-old) and focus on how this affects your fellow movie-goers.
Unless it's a movie made for kids, it's best to leave your young children at home. While it's easy to say that an infant would sleep during a movie, babies are unpredictable at best. No one wants to try and hear a movie while your baby gets fussy and you try to coax it back to sleep.
As for toddlers and slightly older kids, they're used to watching movies at home in front of the TV when it's OK to get up and wander or ask for more food or wonder out loud what is going on. And that's OK for 'Madagascar 3' (though we still maintain now is a great time to teach your kid movie manners) but when you bring them to a PG-13 or R-rated movie, you're distracting a bunch of adults looking to enjoy a movie. Get a babysitter next time and save yourself, and everyone else, the hassle.
This rule is somewhat connected with the cell phone tip up above, but even people who keep their mobile device pocketed, still feel the need to gab during the movie. “Who is that guy?” “What did he just say?” “Oh my god, that's hilarious!” No. NO. Keep it to yourself. The people on screen can't hear you so stop talking to them. Inner monologue people.
And we all love to talk about movies but save that for the lobby after the movie is over (and even still, see our tip below). Remember, you're surrounded by other people and even when you think you're whispering it can be incredibly distracting to the rest of the theater.
Seat etiquette is an overlooked part of the movies but when it goes wrong it can really ruin your experience. Before there were seat backs that rocked and moved, someone kicking the back of your seat was a minor inconvenience. But now, you can feel every boot, bump and nudge from behind you. If there's someone sitting in front of you, remember, what feels minor to you can be incredibly distracting to them. And if there's not someone sitting in front of you, don't put your feet up on the back of the seat. This isn't your personal ottoman.
When you're at a restaurant, you can just get up, leave your plates and leftover food behind and walk out the door – there are busboys who will clean that mess up for you. And in a movie theater, yes, there is someone who comes in and cleans up. But to keep things running smoothly and movies starting on time (we've on more than one occasion had a movie start late because of a clean-up in aisle 12), take your empty popcorn tub and soda bottle to the trash can. Nobody likes stepping on that gross, sticky, theater floor, so don't contribute to that by spilling all your food. Do your best to pitch in and give the theater employees (and the audience coming in after you) a break.
We've all had that feeling halfway through a movie when we realize we drank too much Coke and aren't going to make it through to the end without a bathroom break. And then you have to do that awkward dance up the aisle, sidestepping people's legs and purses, whispering “'scuse me…'scuse me….”
While the urge to go to the bathroom can't always be avoided, you can certainly help matters by going before the movie starts. And if you're one of those people with a pea-sized bladder, sit on an aisle seat so you're not climbing over the rest of the crowd.
Especially important for movies you know are going to be crowded, try to arrive at the theater 20 minutes before the movie is going to begin. That will allow you enough time to get your tickets, grab a snack, go to the bathroom and find a decent seat in the theater. It will also help you avoid the situation when you're stumbling around in the dark going, “Is that seat taken?” over and over again and then climbing over everyone to get into one of the last remaining seats. Added bonus: you'll actually see the entire movie and won't be one of those people above going, “Wait…who's that guy?”
Unless you're going to a drive-in, save your make-out sessions for after the movie is over. We're all so super happy for you that you're so in love with each other but the PDAs are completely unnecessary. Just because it's dark doesn't mean you immediately have to start sucking face. It's GROSS. If you're really that into each other, use your money to rent a hotel room and save the rest of us the show.
OHMYGOD you people who chomp on your popcorn drive us insane. Eating is an essential part of the movie-going experience for some people and we couldn't agree more – popcorn and candy and soda is just a tradition. But please, please, if you're going to eat during the movie, try to do it with your mouth closed. Your food is not going anywhere and there's no need to shovel it in your mouth. Related: when your soda is running out, don't slurp through the straw to get the last drops. It's gone. Go get a refill.
You just saw 'The Dark Knight Rises' and you're incredibly excited to talk about it with your friends. And that's great! The post-movie discussion is one of the best parts about going to the movies. But remember that as you're walking out, there is an entire lobby full of people waiting to go into the movie. So now is not the time to start going, “So did [SPOILER] really [SPOILER] or was that just [SPOILER]??” You'd be pissed if someone blew the ending of a movie for you, so just keep those thoughts rattling around in your own head for a few seconds until you get out to the car and then you can spoil away.