Theater Chain Fights Back Against Texting During Movies

I don’t go to the movies much these days because I’m in NYC, and I don’t want bedbugs crawling all over me like that scene in Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake. But if I did go to the movies, I wouldn’t, because the last several times I went there was always some fool texting within my line of sight. Now a theater chain based in Arizona is launching a nationwide campaign to try to get through to these self-involved types that texting in a darkened theater is wrong.

The campaign includes replacing promotions of coming attractions in poster cases with “No Texting During Movie” signs… [and will] run through Christmas.

“We’re asking that moviegoers have respect for other guests around them,” Harkins spokesman Bryan Laurel said. “People feel they aren’t disturbing others but someone getting on Facebook or Twitter, that quick burst of light can be distracting,” Laurel said.

The fact that this even has to be addressed proves how feral most of humanity is, but of course the Arizona Republic still managed to find someone who thinks texting in theaters is a free speech issue:

“I mean, c’mon. You don’t want the baby to cry or someone talking loudly on their cellphone, but a cellphone light shouldn’t bother anyone. Freedom of speech, isn’t it?”

Thank you for joining me today for Cranky Old Man Writes A Blog Post.

“Scottsdale-based Harkins wants to ban texting during movies” [AZCEntral] (Thanks to David!)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. AdamBC says:

    Depending on how bright the light is, it could be disrupting the peace.

    Sure you have a freedom of speech, but your method can still be disruptive like using a bullhorn.

    Maybe we can have a special seating section for texters and crying babies next to eachother – it’s apparent neither care to watch the movie at hand.

    • AdamBC says:

      Side benefit to sitting them next to eachother – lower teen pregnancy rates.

      • DariusC says:

        But if the texters sit in the theater like normal, you can achieve the same thing because less people will be tempted ot fck in the back row with so much light? Seriously, I can use my phone as a flashlight… EVO FTW.

    • DariusC says:

      Freedom of speech? Fail.

      How is that speaking? How is that expressing? You are not expressing yourself to anyone in that theater, you are expressing yourself to those idiots on facebook you call friends.

      (Not directed at AdamBC)

      • jessjj347 says:

        I think that people try to do anything they wish under the guise of “freedom of speech”. I’m fairly sure it’s because most people don’t understand what it means really.

        • Eyeheartpie says:

          Most people forget that their rights end where yours begin, i.e. you can’t exercise your freedom of speech to such an extent that you remove someone else’s rights. You have freedom of speech, but you can’t go blast music at 200 dB in the middle of the night right outside someone else’s door. Same way, you can text all you want, you just can’t do it in such a way that it stops someone from watching a movie they have paid to watch.

          • JJ! says:

            Beyond that, the theater is private property – if they so choose to ban using cell phones during a movie, they’re well within their rights to remove you from the premises if you break their rules.

        • Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

          This. +1.

      • Shadowfax says:

        Bigger fail than that. This isn’t a government theater. It’s a private business. Freedom of Speech as outlined in the Bill of Rights only prevents the *government* from shutting you up. A private business can set any rule they want regarding access to their property provided it’s not based on your race/gender/sexuality, etc. The theater cannot violate your first amendment rights by telling you to stop talking, texting, or anything else because the theater is not bound by the first amendment.

    • Gramin says:

      Institutions have quite a bit of freedom in restricting your free speech. Free speech only allows you to say what you want. It does not allow you to be disruptive. Schools are great at restricting students’ free speech (i.e. no clothing that displays drug paraphernilia).

      The free speech argument has absolutely no basis.

    • Difdi says:

      Freedom of speech does not protect you from fellow citizens or give you a right to speech on private property.

      Protestors can be arrested for trespassing without violating their first amendment rights for example. A movie theater can certainly ban people using cellphones.

    • layton59 says:

      A special seating section? Why not “accidentally” spill a soft drink on the offenders phones. If you don’t want to waste a cola, then refill an empty cup at the water fountain. Hard to text when your keyboard is short-circuited. Of course, I am kidding, but revenge thoughts help with the stress levels topics like these create.

  2. donovanr says:

    I would think that this comes under a general category with people who interact with the movie, have a stupid laugh, or clap at the end (acceptable during premier when the director will actually hear.)

    • caradrake says:

      There are occasionally people that sit in the theater to gauge reactions to trailers and to the movie. Clapping/making comments about a trailer gets recorded and submitted. To who, I dunno. Are they going to change a movie based on reaction to a trailer? I dunno. But I do know it pays me pretty well! :P

    • ames says:

      I’ve clapped at movies before. :D Sometimes they’re just THAT good.

  3. MikeF74 says:

    A dimmed cellphone isn’t too bad (not that I’d ever do it — I’m too polite). But most smartphones with their larger surface area LCDs are especially obnoxious in such a situation.

    • jefeloco says:

      I just repeatedly ask them to turn it off. After 6 or 7 times of that, I usually resort to a “Seriously? turn the damn thing off” followed up with complaining to the theater’s office about it. I usually end up with free tickets to another movie and/or gift certificates to the concessions.

      Theaters won’t do anything about it if people don’t complain.

    • trentblase says:

      I’m often tempted to whip out a laser pointer and put it on their hand (a modification of the flashlight used for similar purposes by ushers) but I’m not sure if it would end up being more annoying for those around me. Thoughts?

  4. Chmeeee says:

    It’s tough to bring up freedom of speech in an argument about texting when you’re talking about a place where talking is frowned upon.

    • captadam says:

      Or in a place not controlled by the government. GAH. Why can people not understand what “freedom of speech” means? Congress shall make no law. By extension, the state many not deprive individuals of their freedom of speech. A theater owner cannot deprive a person of his freedom of speech, as a theater owner is not an agent of the state!

      • Chmeeee says:

        That too.

      • The Marionette says:

        They can’t deprive him of freedom of speech, however because of theater policy they can remove you from the theater. Some poor soul that went to our theater thought he could pull that freedom of speech card as well and we have police officers there on patrol, who do have the right to remove him. It’s common sense that people go to the theater to have an enjoyable time, not to hear some trailer trash rant about their “rights” when they’re depriving others of the right to an enjoyable movie.

        As far as the texting, I can’t say I’m for or against texting IF it’s done properly. If I’m going to text (or check one) I usually hold the phone fairly low and block the light with my hand so i can still see it and it won’t bother anyone. But of course there’s those type that text in the middle of a movie and really don’t care if they’re bothering anyone else, yet the minute they’re bothered they bitch about rights.

  5. your new nemesis says:

    *sigh* “I have freedom of speech so i can be a dick if I want, fuck you.”
    People totally misunderstand what the point of freedom of speech is all about.

    • JoeS says:

      Can I use my freedom of speech to shout you down?

      • your new nemesis says:

        I hope you understand that wasn’t my sentiment, but the sentiment of those who use free speech as a way to justify anything they say and do

    • Sneeje says:

      Indeed. And also forgetting that freedom of speech applies to the relationship between the government and the individual, not between private enterprise and individuals.

  6. pop top says:

    “Freedom of speech, isn’t it?”

    And yet again, someone doesn’t understand the concept of “freedom of speech” or how it is actually (and legally) applied.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      +1

    • Antediluvian says:

      Until the GOVERNMENT tells you no texting, STFU about “freedom of speech”.

    • ARP says:

      The problem is that our political figures often misrepresent it as well, which leads Americans to confuse the issue- e.g. Sarah Palin believing that criticising Dr Laura is a violation of free speech; hate crime laws (not hate speech laws) violating free speech, etc.

      • pop top says:

        If I can’t say racial slurs to whomever I want, my constitutional rights aren’t being exercised to their fullest extent.

  7. blag says:

    Feral as humanity may be, I somehow manage to repress my urge to grab moviegoers cellphones from their inconsiderate fingers and beat them to a bloody pulp with them.

    • lim says:

      It’s not easy. What with the size and durability of these new-fangled phones it takes more time and effort than it did just a few years ago, but it is time and effort well spent. If I’m not feeling up to a full beat-down I’ll simply take the 5 1/2 inch cast-iron skillet out of my purse and simply smash the offender’s fingers.

      What did you think was in my purse to make it so heavy? Makeup?

      • Mythandros says:

        Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but I sure hope not.

        If anyone even attempted that with me they’d end up with the skillet so far up their ass it would take surgery to remove.

    • brianisthegreatest says:

      Thank you for not being a gigantic distraction. Because making a scene is worse than someone interacting with their cellphone. It’s odd how your mind immediately goes to elevate the level of distraction, when it’s distraction you want to stop. It’s a movie theater. The entire idea is stupid.

  8. microcars says:

    what if they text “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre?

  9. wrjohnston91283 says:

    I was at a movie this weekend. In the seats to the left of us, at the end of our row, and the row in front of us, was a group of kids (maybe 14-16? Hard to tell in the dark). They spent much of the movie with the phones out. I don’t know what they were doing, but it resulted in laughing and talking about what was happening with their phones. While the light from the phone ISN’T as annoying as someone having a phone conversation, if you’re going to verbalize and laugh about what your reading on your phone, its just as bad.

    • fxsoap says:

      Those kinds of people are the most annoying/worst.

      Easiest solution? Buy a cell phone jammer. My girlfriend and I have been using this for years now and it has made our $10+ movie going experience……heavenly.

      No more idiots with dumb ring tones going off, saying ‘HELLO’ to talk over the loud movie and then slowing walking out of the theater. Same with people who get texts and start reading them and responding over and over.

      Done and done.

  10. JoeS says:

    I wish theatres would install ceiling material that would block cell phones and texting.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I think in case of emergency that would be a bad idea. Aren’t cell supressors illegal?

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        I agree that it’s a terrible idea. I wouldn’t be able to go to the movies when I’m on call.

        • Phineas says:

          It would be a terrible idea FOR YOU. Of course, it is all about you. But the rest of us just want to watch and enjoy the movie we took out a small business loan to pay for.

          • Lollerface says:

            Blocking the signal would be convenient FOR YOU. Of course, it is all about you. Some people have responsibilities in the big boy world, that might require getting paged, and getting up to leave without texts and phones calls.

            • Alexk says:

              No, blocking the signal would be convenient for most of the audience. Just because you want to use your phone in the theatre doesn’t mean everyone else should be inconvenienced at your whim.

            • AI says:

              I’m sure even at your level of responsibility you will survive for the 2 hours. Just as people did 20+ years ago without cell phones.

            • Phineas says:

              Sorry, that doesn’t flip. Having cell phones blocked is something everyone can enjoy in their shared purpose (watching a movie). If you get texts or calls, that is something only YOU can enjoy. But since I see by your picture you are a troll, that makes more sense.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          And yet people managed to go to films while on call before mobile phones. I do indeed recall it being done; one simply alerted the theater’s manager that there might be a call coming for them, and indicated where they’d be sitting. Funny how that worked out!

      • Newto-Rah says:

        While active cell phone disruptors are illegal, choosing you construction materials to make the theatre a giant Faraday cage would not. There are no laws requiring a cell signal inside a building, but there are laws against transmitting harmful signals

    • Skellbasher says:

      Aside from being illegal, it doesn’t fix the problem. People will still light their phone screens up to TRY and call or text.

      • apple420 says:

        I don’t think that’s illegal. Jamming may be illegal, but just building the theater in a way that doesn’t make it conducive to cell phone reception is no problem.

        • AI says:

          Yeah, just build tin foil into the ceiling and walls. Cheap Faraday cage, perfectly legal.

          • Mythandros says:

            It’s also very dangerous.

            If someone needs to make a 911 call because someone in the theatre is having a heart attack (This is from personal experience) the difference in time it takes to whip out your cell phone and call emergency service and the time it takes to RUN OUTSIDE to make the call can be the difference between life and death.

            Installing signal blockers in theatres reeks of “TERRIBLE idea” through and through. I’m not really surprised at the lack of forward thinking and foresight displayed on this site, to be honest. It is very dissapointing, however.

            • dg says:

              Given that most theaters have more than one person in them at any one time, how about this solution:

              1) Put the heart attack victim on the floor (yeah, nasty, but hey – it’s better than not). Administer CPR as necessary. Make sure they’re ventilated if necessary.

              2) Have someone else run outside and get help.

              I’m not trying to be an insensitive jerk, but pre-cell phones what happened? And who’s to say you’ll get a connection (AT&T anyone?), or that they’ll even pick up when you do call?

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Not sure about that. There are definitely ways to construct a building such that cell signals just don’t get through – I see it a lot at casinos, as a matter of fact.

    • Griking says:

      I thought that there was talk of installing signal blockers in theaters a while back. I’d be for it. Either you want to go to the movies or you want to sit and text all night. Pick one.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      A theater owner wanted a cellphone/pager signal blocker for his auditoriums, but was blocked from being allowed to install one; the reason I remember being given was that doctors who are On Call need to be able to receive messages at all times, even if they are watching a movie.

      • layton59 says:

        D@mn, it is the doctors going to the movies that are the reason. Theatres need to ban doctors on call from movies and then theatres can block all cell phone signals. Of course there are probably millions other people with supposed emergency situations that would sue if they were blocked. How did they ever exist before cell phones and pagers? Oh yeah they would go to the lobby every so often to call their answering services or family members. The old way was the better way, it didn’t annoy the rest of us.

  11. Blueberry Scone says:

    Yeah, I hate people who text during movies. And the people who talk during movies, and the people who take phone calls, and the people who have to get up eighty-eleven times to use the bathroom/get a snack. And I hate the people who bring their very young kids to a late-night showing of a movie (any kind). And I hate -

    You know what? This just reaffirms my decision to use Netflix.

    • Blueberry Scone says:

      (I apologize for the post above, as I know it’s getting into “I make my own at home!” territory. But I REALLY can’t stand how people carry on in movie theatres like they’re in their own homes.)

      • Marshmelly says:

        Oh I agree completely. Its actually one of my top two pet peeves (the other being skipping DVDs). It is kind of odd that my top two pet peeves have to do with movies…

        • Blueberry Scone says:

          Mine, too! Isn’t that weird? I think it’s because I go to the movies to escape reality for a bit. It’s annoying to hear people talking and carrying on.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          My pet peeve with DVDs are the ones that insist on you watching 20 minutes worth of previews before you can actually get to the #$)@!ing menu! Of course, you can hit the SKIP button until Doomsday, but those previews aren’t going to go away. Hence the reason for Handbrake, to rip the movie from it and stick two middle fingers at the studio who encoded the DVD that way.

          • Blueberry Scone says:

            I’ve noticed Disney movies don’t allow you to go straight to the main menu. What other studios block this feature?

            I’ve always thought that having previews for coming attractions dates the movie. I have a few Disney movies on VHS (bought when I was a kid, so about 20 years ago (Jesus, I’m old)), and they all have these previews for “coming attractions” – Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, a reissued special-edition VHS for Pinnocchio (uh, ok). Some of the tapes even have commercials for Disney products that you can’t buy anymore. It just looks silly.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Yep. One, WHY are you even texting during a movie in the first place? Why pay to see a movie and then not watch it?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      The only reason I take out my phone during a movie is to stop it from buzzing in my purse, but 9 times out of 10 I can find it without even pulling it out and shut it up.

      I only ever text back unless its a total emergency or if its during the previews. After that its movie time.

    • Saltpork says:

      Exactly. Last time I went to a movie theater was 2005.
      I don’t miss it.

      I can make popcorn how I want, the floor isn’t sticky, comfortable seating and a 48 inch screen is big enough for me to enjoy the movie.

      Just have to be patient with new releases, but that’s not difficult considering how much is already out there.

    • ZekeDMS says:

      I agree, but how do you feel about vests?

  12. Pax says:

    They have signal-blocking wallpaper that can be put up.

    Turn the theater itself into a pocket Dead Zone.

    Problem solved.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      The FCC frowns upon those kind of shenanigans in the United States. The theatre owner would face a federal lawsuit faster than Regan’s head spinning.

      • Bremma says:

        I think it’s a shame it can’t be done in areas where cell phone use is discouraged, but then you have the issue of people who may be contacted in an emergency situation (Doctors, EMTs being called for duty, parents getting a call from a sitter about their kid) not being able to be alerted or obtained in an emergency.

        • Newto-Rah says:

          These comments make me wonder how many clients they’d lose, vs how many they’d gain if they advertised no cell reception in their theatres. I know I would go to it every time, and I know many others that would as well.

          Also, what did these people do before cell phones? Doctors/EMTs I would assume wouldn’t leave home when on call, but parents still went outside sometimes

          • Griking says:

            Probably as many customers as that restaurant that advertised that screaming kids weren’t allowed. Oh wait, their business increased didn’t it?

            • Mythandros says:

              You’re comparing apples to curling irons.

              They are NOT the same thing.

              A restaurant doesn’t block cell signals. And blocking a cell signal is NOT the same thing as asking the parent of a screaming little brat to leave because he/she/it doesn’t want to/can’t calm down their little crotch fruit.

              Please stay on-topic.

              • Griking says:

                Both want to ban annoying devices that aggravate other paying customers. Sounds like a fair comparison to me.

          • Blueberry Scone says:

            Banning cell phone usage is just one facet of theatre rudeness, though. Yeah, you’ve stopped the rude people from talking on their cell phones, but that doesn’t stop people from talking loudly to the person next to them.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          If it’s a true emergency, why not just do like we did in the primitive days before cell phones…

          Call the theater directly, explain the emergency, and ask that an usher give a patron a message. These true life or death emergencies are very rare and having this happen a few times a year would be significantly less disruptive than the current situation.

          I used to watch a lot of movies and I can only remember this happening once in the pre-cell phone years. I doubt the world is a much more dangerous place or people are having more emergencies than back in 1990.

          • Lollerface says:

            I think in this modern era, theaters would not be keen to go track down customers that may or may not even be there (if plans changed or a showing sold out) when you can just txt a cell phone.

            • Shadowfax says:

              If plans changed or the showing sold out, then the person needing to receive the emergency txt wouldn’t be in the theater, and so his cell phone wouldn’t be blocked. . .

      • bdgbill says:

        Wrong. The FCC frowns on jamming signals by means of electronic equipment. The wallpaper the poster above mentions has a fine mesh of brass wire embedded in it. The FCC has no authority to tell you what you can hang on your walls.

      • JuneCarter says:

        In case of an emergency, people would do just what they did before there were cell phones. They would wait for the movie to be over.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Donald Regan, the Chief of Staff for President Reagan?

    • OrtizDupri says:

      And what happens in the case of an emergency?

      • womynist says:

        I’ll retort with a question of my own:

        What did we do 15-20 years ago in a theater if there was an emergency?

        I long for the simpler times…

        • Lollerface says:

          Within the past 15-20 years there has been progress. Roll with times old man.

          • Alexk says:

            There has been change, certainly. Progress? In technology, yes. In civility, no. Quite the opposite. As your message shows.

            • Mythandros says:

              The response was completely appropriate given the previous comment.

              It’s NOT 15 – 20 years ago. That was 15 – 20 years ago.

              It’s NOW, and cell phones are predominant. Being mentally and emotionally stuck in the past isn’t going to do you or anyone else any good, especially in emergency situations.

              Get it?

              • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

                Okay. Now teach the inconsiderate (expletive)s how to conduct themselves in a movie theatre so people don’t have to come up with ways to block wireless signals from entering said theatre (i.e. no phoning, texting, tweeting, updating Facebook page/Foursquare/whatever social network de jour, or playing “this awesome iPhone game I just got.”) While you’re at it, can you also teach them to not wrestle with the licorice wrapper, suck every last drop out of that soda with their straw, and chew with their mouths open while the film is showing?

                Vigilante justice is justified in this case.

              • Sneeje says:

                Annnddd…. so what. You still haven’t demonstrated that not being able to use a cell phone in a theater has demonstrably higher consequences given the alternate methods of getting help.

                But if you’d rather argue about the time stream, soldier on.

              • Alexk says:

                That was a childish response. I’ve no problem with the existence of cell phones. I have a problem with rude twits who think the world revolves around their needs, and that courtesy for the rest of the world is “old fashioned.”

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Walk OUTSIDE the dark black room and use your phone. The lobby not good enough for you?

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        The same thing people did prior to about 1999 if there was an emergency. Call from the front desk.

        Also, jamming wireless transmissions is illegal but a business is free to block them. My previous employer had specially coated windows (looks like a metal screen) and walls made to block cell phones and wireless transmissions. I have no idea if it would be practical to employ such materials in a theater but I would pay extra to go to a theater that did this or at least had active ushers (like when I was a kid).

        • veritybrown says:

          These days, most movie theaters don’t publicize their office phone number. The only publicized number goes straight to a recording with show times. Even if someone *could* reach the theater office, how would they find the person they need? Go in while the movie is playing and announce that so-and-so is needed on the phone? I’m sure that would go over well with all the don’t-interrupt-my-movie whiners.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            That’s what they did back in my day.

            Life or death emergencies are exceedingly rare. I can remember seeing one movie that was interrupted back in the pre-cell phone days. This includes hundreds (if not in the thousands) of movies seen over the course of several decades.

            I doubt the USA is that much more dangerous or people having more emergencies today than we did 10 or 20 years ago.

            • Mythandros says:

              They may be rare, but what if it was a family member of yours lying on the ground having a heart attack and the theatre had blocked cell signals?

              What if your family member died because noone could call out BECAUSE of blocking cell signals?

              Rarity of a situation means absolutely NOTHING.

              Blocking cell signals ANYWHERE in public (Provided there isn’t an alternate way to contact emergency services somewhere very nearby) is not only irresponsible, but dangerous and SHOULD be illegal.

              People, please think these things through before you spout nonsense.

              • Shadowfax says:

                You’re right entirely. It’s a miracle those death trap theaters didn’t kill more people before txt messaging came along! My god! How close we all were to destruction!

                (aka: This is reality. Not hyper-fantasy-danger-world.)

      • Doubts42 says:

        you walk your lazy ass out into the lobby.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      I have checked incoming text messages in the theater. I carefully pull the phone partway and shield as much light as I can with my hand, body, etc..

      If they ban this, I will simply not go to the theater. If more of you go as a result and they make more money, more power to them. I’m sure the doctors who would like to got to theaters will be really pleased too!

      I can think of a possible but difficult solution. The theater could inventory a bunch of vibrate only pagers with no screen and you could forward your phone to that system. Since phones don’t forward text I have no idea how to make it fully work.

      • Shadowfax says:

        “If they ban this, I will simply not go to the theater.”

        Good. How about you start now. I know you think you’re helping by blocking the light, but you’re not blocking the light. Your light is visible even when you put your hand over it. It lights up your face, your shirt, the chair, the guy next to you, etc. It’s rude and unnecessary. You really can survive for 2 hours without text messaging. I promise. I’m about the biggest tech addict you’ll ever come across, and if I can manage to turn the phone off (not vibrate, but OFF) for the duration of the movie, you can too.

        • Traveshamockery says:

          +10000000

        • Mythandros says:

          Firstly, let me say that using a phone in the theatre is a pet peeve of mine too. I agree that people shouldn’t do it..

          But just because YOU can go without, doesn’t mean someone else can.

          Would you like to be judged by someone elses rules?
          I thought not.

          Be more carefull what and how you say it, you risk pissing people off with your apathetic attitude. That could easily result in a beatdown from someone with a lower tolerance to smartasses like yourself.

          No offense.

          • Shadowfax says:

            “But just because YOU can go without, doesn’t mean someone else can.”

            True. And if they can’t go without, then they shouldn’t be in the theater.

            “Would you like to be judged by someone elses rules?”

            I am every day. It’s called living in a society. If someone doesn’t want to be judged by “someone else’s” (i.e. “society’s”) rules, then there are plenty of places to build a hermit’s cabin way out in the woods where they won’t annoy anyone. Once you go out in public, you are expected to behave with a modicum of politeness and consideration for others. If you feel that is too judgmental, then you should stay out of society.

            “Be more carefull what and how you say it, you risk pissing people off with your apathetic attitude.”

            First, I think “acerbic” might have been the word you were going for. Apathetic does not mean what you think it means. And second, you’re damned right I will have an “attitude” about rude schmucks who are so engrossed in their own whims that they can’t manage to control themselves for a couple of hours when their whims would disturb a theater full of people who paid to see a movie, not his cell phone. We paid to watch the movie. So did he. That’s what we should be doing in the theater. If he wants to play with his phone, he should do it where he won’t disturb everyone else.

            “That could easily result in a beatdown from someone with a lower tolerance to smartasses like yourself.”

            I’m . . .Not really afraid of internet-tough-guys. . . I’m just as virtually badass as they’ll ever be ;)

  13. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Eh, weighing the situation, I’d rather they text then answer their phone and start yakking.

    • teke367 says:

      I agree, I don’t text in movies, but I don’t think it is really that distracting. The movie theaters near me have been pleading to not text during the movie for a couple years now, and when I first saw the signs, the first thing I thought was “hmm, I never noticed.”

      People will look at their phone just to check the time, the light wouldn’t bother me then. The few times I’ve noticed somebody texting, they are holding the phone close, and “distracting” definitely isn’t the word I’d use to describe the situation.

      I don’t know if “freedom of speech” is the proper defense, but I think we all need to stop being to easily irritated. Seems like a silly thing to get mad about. If you can’t enjoy a movie because you see a small light in your periphial, perhaps its because the movie isn’t any good.

      • syzygy says:

        Maybe some of us are more sensitive to certain distractions than others? Some people aren’t bothered by people talking during movies, either. But I know when I see a secondary light source moving around at the bottom of my field of vision, it drives me batty. A dimmed cellphone screen may not be all that bright in a moderately lit room, but it’s a beacon in a darkened theater.

        Why is texting necessary during a movie anyway? Will the world end if they don’t respond to their friends for two hours? If it’s that important, how about they skip the movie (and the ticket price they’re wasting) and go visit? I’m all for theater owners taking every available legal avenue to prevent these idiots from treating the movie theater like their living rooms.

        If all else fails, complain. At worst, you’ll have to see the movie later on the theater’s dime (I’ve never had management refuse a refund), and at best, the bothersome fool will be removed and everyone will be happy. Except the ejectee, of course, but screw him.

    • Shadowfax says:

      And I’d rather they answer their phone and start yakking than masturbate on my arm.

      But really, I expect them to not do any of these, and sit there quietly watching the movie like adults are supposed to.

  14. moore850 says:

    That’s not what freedom of speech is, and to suggest that a person has the right to be a jerk at any time is completely ridiculous. Disturbing the peace, public nuisance, disorderly conduct, all are examples of how we have legislated “do not be a jerk”.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      THIS IS AMURIKUH! HOW DARE YOU SAY I CAN’T DO WHAT I WANT TO! YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY NOT CHRISTIAN!

      /sarcasm

  15. ShruggingGalt says:

    The Alamo Drafthouse will totally throw your a** out if you text during a movie.

    They’ve made it clear that “tweeting” and “texting” totally count as talking during a movie.

    • Sunflower1970 says:

      I *heart* Alamo Drafthouse (especially the one on S. Lamar. Can’t wait for the new one to be built further south. It’ll be in biking distance). That is pretty much the only place I go for my movie experiences any more. Only time I’ve seen people pull out their cellphones and turn them on is when they need a bit more light to read the menu. And that usually only happens before the movie ever begins.

      I’ve never seen anyone pull the cellphones out to text or make a call, etc, and I’ve never heard a phone go off there, either. Most people are too busy eating, drinking and enjoying a movie.

      • ShruggingGalt says:

        The one on S Lamar hasn’t installed the amber LEDs under the counter? I know the Ritz has those installed…. (and I know Lake Creek doesn’t have them)

      • Eilonwynn says:

        I went there for the first time only a couple of weeks ago, with my fiance, and was most impressed by the policy – so much so that we’re likely going to take the entire wedding party to a show after the rehearsal dinner.

  16. Zydia says:

    If someone has to text through the whole movie (which is probably why the campaign started), he/she shouldn’t go see it in the first place. I see this with teenagers the most.

    /get off my lawn

    • Lollerface says:

      Exactly. this is where the problem lies. It’s not emergency txts, someone gets up and leaves. It’s constant back and forth conversations that take place the entire 2 hours. And yes, it is usually kids, not parents or fat people (Consumerist’s two favorite targets). I think the best course of action is to have people occasionally check from the projection booth and if they see a persistent problem have an usher go boot the offender.

  17. captadam says:

    It’s kind of funny to see theater owners act as though they are concerned for providing a pleasant movie experience when they ask people to stay silent, to turn off cell phones, and not to text during the movie. The idea is to rid the theater of extraneous noise and sound so that theatergoers can concentrate on the movie, correct?

    Yet, these same theater owners sell the LOUDEST foods so that theatergoers can munch and crunk, slurp, crinkle packaging, and slosh ice around in cups like a game of Yahtzee. These behaviors aren’t as annoying as a screen emitting a little light in a darkened theater?

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      Thanks for bringing that up. I love to snack at the movies, but it’s not my fault that the slightest motion makes the packing crinkle at 200 decibels. Is it so hard to come up with less crinkly packaging? As it is, I try to get my snacking in during the explosions and laughs.

    • AI says:

      They also put in 30minutes of trailers and advertisements, which do anything but help me enjoy the movie.

  18. Skellbasher says:

    God I hate these ‘ZOMG freedom of speech’ arguments that are totally misapplied.

    It’s a private freaking business. They can throw you out for saying ‘meow’ if they want to. Probably not a great business practice, but they’re within their rights regardless.

    Besides, with what you pay for a ticket in a theater, do you really want to NOT watch every second of the movie?

  19. Marshmelly says:

    Texting? I’m honestly more irritated at the people who constantly talk to each other (and on the phone) during the entire movie! When will people grasp the concept of having to shut your mouth for 2 hours. It really isn’t that hard. If you want to talk about the entire plot of the movie with the person next to you, wait till after its over. If you get a phone call, don’t answer it and chat away in the middle of the movie, take your phone and go outside the theater…or if you absolutely need to contact someone, text inside of a bag or something and make a conscious effort to shield the light. *sigh* This seems like basic common courtesy.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      That right there is the problem: people don’t have common courtesy anymore. Case in point being the doofus in the article who said “I don’t think the light would bother anybody!” Doofus thinks that if it doesn’t bother her it won’t bother anyone else. That’s selfish and rude.

      No manners, no courtesy.

  20. privax says:

    I generally won’t initiate a text message conversation, browse the internet, check facebook etc while watching a movie but depending on the person who texts me I don’t see an issue with replying back.

    If you have a major issue with seeing a fairly bright cell phone light up while watching the movie and it’s distracting you that much well then you may have a case of A.D.D — And if it’s that bad go early on in the afternoon when nobody is there.

    • bdgbill says:

      If you can’t get through a 90 minute movie without playing with your toys, maybe it’s you that has ADD.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Uh…I’m pretty sure that having the light of a cell phone bother you when trying to concentrate on the screen isn’t any kind of symptom of having ADD. Most people are bothered by it. When you’re in a completely dark space concentrating on a screen in front of you and all of a sudden a bright light appears in the corner of your eye (presumably by your phone, since you don’t seem care about concealing it), it breaks that concentration. Sorry, we’re not going to the movies when no one is there just because you can’t stop texting.

    • Mythandros says:

      Technically speaking here,

      Your right to be an asshole ends where mine not to begins.

      You are NOT within your rights to disturb an entire theatre full of people who all paid good money to watch a movie.

      The problem with people like you is the “me me me” attitude. Have some consideration for others around you and just don’t be a dick, it’s easy. I promise.

      Try it sometime.

    • BytheSea says:

      I’m pretty sure if someoen is incapable of watching a single screen for two hours, it isn’t the entire theater of annoyed people who has the ADD.

  21. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    The campaign includes replacing promotions of coming attractions in poster cases with “No Texting During Movie” signs.

    So their plan for the national campaign is to be completely ineffective at actually stopping the problem.

    Here’s a plan:
    1) Hire more ushers
    2) Give those ushers the authority to kick trouble makers out
    3) Profit

    • Hank Scorpio says:

      I can’t believe I had to scroll all the way down here to find the word “ushers”.

      My comment was going to be “remember when theaters had ushers who could warn people about their behavior or throw them out.”

      Oh, damn, did I just really pull a “when I was younger” grouchy old man? I’m really not that old. Really.

      I’m just going to go sob quietly in the corner now…

      • Marshmelly says:

        I used to work at a movie theater in high school (only about 6-7 years ago) and we had ushers in move theaters still. I’m not sure why they’ve been phasing out the whole usher-in-the-theater thing.

        • Daggertrout says:

          Probably because ushers/doorpersons are the most superfluous employees at a theater since they aren’t selling tickets or concessions. The theater I work at hardly has enough payroll budget to include a dedicated doorperson and we occasionally work in one on Friday and Saturday nights when we’re busiest. That makes it kinda hart to police every auditorium.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        An usher warned two bubbly teenagers behind me just last month because they kept talking and giggling. I think he just happened to be on break to watch a movie (although he was there the majority o the movie) but apparently they are still around once in a while.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Last week I stepped out of a movie and complained to the front desk because there was a lady whose kid wouldn’t stop screaming its head off. Aside from the fact that there was no reason for any children to be at a Rated R movie, I asked the woman at the front desk to send someone in and handle the situation. About two minutes later a guy barely older than me walks in, talks to the woman for at least a few minutes and she got up when the kid started crying again…by the time she sat down again and her kid freaked out again, there was another usher in the theater standing at the side watching and eventually the lady left completely. I think they must have either kicked her out or offered her a refund or something, but I couldn’t take it anymore and I was so glad the theater was willing to take a stand against idiot parents who bring their babies to rated R movies.

      • Griking says:

        Ushers in movie theaters nowadays are usually teenagers who just check to make sure that the emergency exits are closed. I really don’t think that it would be effective or wise to put them into a position of where they would be telling other kids to turn of their phones. I can see many fights and liability because of this. Just block the phone signals and be done with it IMO.

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      If you want people to shush, get others to ush.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’d definitely be willing to pay more if it meant a better movie going experience.

  22. rpm773 says:

    I think the “Freedom of Speech” concept needs to be taught at a higher grade level. IE, well after any moron who thinks it means “Freedom to Talk” has stopped paying attention, or has dropped out altogether.

  23. kathygnome says:

    People wonder why we bought a large screen HDTV and surround sound system.

    • tbax929 says:

      I’m installing an HD projector with a 120-inch screen in my new house. I will never go to a movie theater again. Never. I can’t even remember the last time I was at a movie and wasn’t irritated by at least one jerk who wanted to talk, text, crunch food loudly, etc.

      Also, when did we get to the point where folks can’t go a couple of hours without stuffing their faces?

  24. qbubbles says:

    GET OFF MY LAWN

  25. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Also, this should be in front of every movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRVt1clJjgw

    You don’t ask nicely for people not to act like jerks, you tell them they’re going to or face the consequences.

  26. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I hate when people fire up their phones in the theater. I ask them to stop and they usually do. Should not be my job though. I guess theaters need ushers to frequently monitor theaters for this kind of nonsense and kick people out who are doing it.

  27. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    To you people who say “What if there is an emergency!? They CAN’T install shielding to keep me from tweeting! No one can!!” —-

    We Did Not ALWAYS Have Cell Phones.

    Emergency does NOT equal FIND your CELL PHONE.

    EMERGENCY equals USE your BRAIN. I really hope if that emergency is a fire, you are using your feet to leave – and not your fingers to tweet. Morons.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      OK, you’ve misunderstood terribly.

      They’re not saying, “I need to tweet if a fire breaks out in the theater.” They’re saying “I want to know if someone’s trying to reach me because MY house is on fire.”

      We Did Not ALWAYS Have Cell Phones.

      We didn’t always have cars either. That doesn’t mean it’s OK for me to block the entire street just because people used to walk everywhere.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        Answering an emergency call once during a film is not the same thing as twiddling about on your iToy throughout a film. Not remotely the same.

      • Alexk says:

        Poor analogy. It’s the people using their celphones who are bothering others, not those who choose not to. “Blocking the entire street” is akin to those talking on their phones, not those polite enough to remember the theatre isn’t their living room/

  28. qbubbles says:

    This one time (at band camp), some piece of shit kid had a laser pointer and was fucking with the movie. Since the theater was made up of 75% people from my school, and I’d say 99% of the theater was pissed, I stood up and pointed and shouted, “That’s the fucker with the goddamn laser pointer.”

    He stopped.

    I got lauded after the movie was over.

    The other time I went to go see How To Train Your Dragon after it’d been out for a while, on a Sunday, at 3pm (BIG FUCKING MISTAKE). First there was the kid who was running up and down the fucking aisles, shrieking. I asked, loudly, “Why is there a child running all over the theater??” Her parent grabbed her. Then there was the kid who was sucking away at an empty juice box. Someone else asked loudly, “Can you please shut your kid up?”

    Taught me not to go to kid movies at normal hours. 9pm, first showing, or I wait till its on HBO.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I hear you. I usually go Sunday but to the earliest show available, most of the time around eleven or so. People are still in church or just getting out, going to lunch, etc. so the theater isn’t very crowded. The only exception was Harry Potter.

  29. Rharl says:

    The Alamo Draft House in Austin, and other parts of Texas, has had this policy for years. They even get celebrities who visit the theater for promotions (Stan Lee, Brea Grant) to do short promotions threatening to kick your face in if you talk during the movie, with a note immediately after saying that texting/tweeting totally count as talking, and they will kick you out if you bother other people. They also serve beer and fried pickles, so it’s basically the best movie theater on the planet.

  30. ben_marko says:

    I just bring a cell phone jammer to the movies. Very handy!

  31. iParadox{InLove} says:

    While we’re on the subject of Movie Theaters. I recently went to see Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3D and was sitting 4 rows from the back. 2 rows behind me there was a woman with her boyfriend, a baby(and I mean baby, like in a carrier.) and 2 children who couldn’t have been more than 7 years old.

    What. The. Frack. Is. Wrong. With. People!

    The baby was fussing during the first 45 minutes of the movie, the kids were laughing and giggling almost nonstop and getting out of their seats and walking around. Mom and boyfriend don’t do jack squat to stop them.

    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I’m here to enjoy an R-rated movie, keep your rotten gene pool offspring at home.

    • msbask says:

      We went to see Piranha 3-D and I was shocked to see that someone brought a 7-year old. I was even more shocked AFTER the movie when I thought about what that 7-year old had just seen.

    • Gramin says:

      Showplace Icon FTW! For many of those adult movies, they have special 21+ showings throughout the day. No kids/teenagers/babies allowed. Period. They also have two VIP theatres that are also 21+… and they have active ushers who don’t put up with this crap. Costs a couple bucks more per ticket for the VIP sections, but it’s well worth it.

      • iParadox{InLove} says:

        Sounds well worth it.

        Look people, I don’t care if your frazzled and need a nice day out watching a movie. But if you can afford $13 bucks a ticket for a 3D movie then you can afford a babysitter for the brats.

  32. pot_roast says:

    Last time I went to a movie, it was actually Sprint that was running ads telling people to not text during the movie. They were short clips that were meant to embarrass texters.

  33. RandomHookup says:

    I went to some free movies at MIT this weekend and there was at least one “smart phone flashlight” in every screening. I’m going to bring Nerf balls of some kind to throw the next time I go to a college screening.

    • MountainCop says:

      Nerf? Nah.. I recommend regulation baseballs. You were just practicing your pitching and his head without a brain just moved into your line of fire… right?

  34. Rocket80 says:

    Civil rights don’t trump property rights (except for exceptions granted by the Civil Rights Act for race, gender, etc etc). Recall that whole ‘carry a gun in Starbucks’ controversy – you don’t have 2nd amendment rights in a private business, nor do you have 1st amendment rights. The theater owner is allowed to set whatever texting policy he wants, presumably the one that will earn him the most money.

    I can’t stand going to theaters myself these days when I have a nice TV, netflix, and patience – what’s the point? The harder theaters crack down on this stuff, the more likely I am to go.

  35. Destron says:

    The whole “what if there is an emergency” excuse is getting just as tired as the whole free speech thing. Another bullshit excuse EVERYONE loves to use. If your life is so full of damn emergencies maybe you should stay your ass at home.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      I say if you get an emergency call or text, LEAVE THE THEATER! Don’t answer the phone, don’t text back. Get up, walk out of the theater into the hall or lobby, take care of your business there.

  36. George4478 says:

    Person sitting in front of me did this at the last movie I saw. I kicked the back of her chair every time her screen came on. Told her the light startled me when she complained.

  37. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    “Freedom of speech, isn’t it?”

    This ill-informed comment is infuriating. Yes, people can do lots of things, and they are free to do so from the standpoint that no one can predict that they are about to do those things. It will, however, have ramifications after-the-fact. If I started yelling cuss words at a funeral or “fire” in a theater, my speech would be free. The consequences would also be free I suppose.

  38. synergy says:

    San Antonio theaters have been running ads pre-movie for a long time not only for quieting cell phones, but also to not text. If you miss the message on the giant screen, then I don’t know what’s going to work short of using a cell canceller of some sort.

  39. parv says:

    Whatever happened to short range cellular signal jammers in/around restaurents, theathers that were promised long ago? Are the police watching movie, medical staff on call watching movie, underage children about to be abducted|harmed watching movie, et al. keeping it away?

  40. MerlynNY says:

    Sure, go have your “freedom of speech” outside of the theater and stop distracting people with the bright light of your cellphone. Nothing is stopping you from getting up and texting elsewhere.

  41. lim says:

    I hear-by assign you to gauge the reactions of the audiences of every “Step Up 3-D” showing. Your next assignment will be the same, but for “Saw 3-D”. Oh, and if there is a Dora the Explorer movie, guess who’s getting it ;) .

  42. rubicthecube says:

    Although I don’t like it, texting during a movie IS freedom of speech. But so is verbally unleashing a variable cornucopia of insults at the person. Quid pro quo.

  43. Demonpiggies says:

    “I don’t go to the movies much these days because I’m in NYC, and I don’t want bedbugs crawling…”

    I don’t go to the movies in NYC because it’s like $13 dollars for a Matinée showing and it’s like $6 to maybe $8 anywhere else in New England…

  44. misslisa says:

    First of all, bravo to the Harkins family for this new policy. It almost begins to make up for the incident this summer where Dan Harkins (the chain’s owner) left his dog in the car while he went in to watch a matinee. A pet (or child) in a car in the Phoenix summer of 110 degrees ain’t gonna survive – I think the police came and smashed his window to get the dog out.

    Next, the whole talking/phoning/texting/acting up thing is not only why I quit attending movies, it’s why I even quit attending church! Kids, adults, rich, poor, all walks of life: Nobody knows how to act right anymore.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Oh, I hope you find another church where people don’t act like goobers! We recently moved to a new city and visited several churches of our denomination; the one closest to our house had a lot of young families like us, BUT has a policy where all kids 4 and over are expected to be in the service as opposed to going to children’s church, and furthermore everyone was totally cool with those kids climbing all over, making noise, tearing hymnals, etc. It was impossible to focus on the service while being totally distracted by those unable to teach their kids how to behave in church. (Not unlike a movie theater where people are talking, texting, gobbling in your ear, etc.)

      So now we go to another one across town, where we can actually get something out of –but the average age of the congregants is probably about 60 : ( So I guess moral of the story is that the likelihood of encountering courteous behavior plummets along with the age of the people you’re surrounded by…which is depressing.

  45. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Freedom of speech? Only if your idea of “Freedom of speech” includes my right to take your cell phone and stick it up your….

  46. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Make them sign a general trespass notice promising not to come back for one year. In other words, don’t just eject them, ban them.

    /get off my sidewalk!

  47. hairyseaword says:

    I don’t understand why they just can’t have vigilant personnel monitoring the individual theaters? An usher sees someone on a phone, they issue a warning to stop. The second time, the patron is asked to leave the theater. You’d only have to give a handful of folks the boot before word got out that the theater meant business.

    Why all the pleading and begging? “We need a marketing campaign to inform folks just how uncool it is to text during a movie.”

    B.S.

    It’s like those Click-It-Or-Ticket campaigns. The marketing campaign is fractionally less of a deterrent than an actual trooper and a fine.

  48. chaosnoise says:

    I worked at both a small local theater and a large chain theater. The policy was the same. “If the phone is out so are you”. You can come back inside the movie when you’re done with your call or text conversation. If you get rude I buzz security and you can take up your issue of freedom of speech with them. It is a private establishment after all.

    On the opposite note. Never ever ever give your phone to an usher, doorman, etc. This is especially rampant with sneak preview shows. We the theater don’t handle those it’s the studio booking it and running it. That big box they put all the phones in has walked off more than once. ~.~

  49. 8one6 says:

    You text in the movie, I “accidentally” kick the back of your chair.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I did that at least a half dozen times before the guy was able to associate the two. He was PO’d but knew if he made a scene he’d be out. He turned down the brightness and stopped holding it up at eye level. Still, Avatar 3D was not ruined for me. After the movie I think he wanted to fight me but when the lights came on he saw I was 400 pounds.

  50. MacBenah says:
  51. suez says:

    The bright light from texting IS obnoxious and I’ve personally had to tells others to take it outside. I paid good money to see that movie and I have the right to enjoy it.

  52. ecvogel says:

    What they don’t tell you is that the light from the projector hits the cell phones screen and reflects brightly in the peoples eyes behind you. Maybe they do not say that cause they are affraid people will do it on purpose?

    I forgot if I read that somewhere or my friend that works at a local chain theater told me that..

  53. jimmyhl says:

    I don’t think posters in the lobby are going to do the job. Most of the guilty douches can’t read anything except “wtf!! cul8er. gtg. lol! lmfao!”

  54. ITDEFX says:

    Problem is that these newer smart phones have bigger and brighter screens. Most of the time people are respectiful in shutting of their phone or muting them. But texting is on the rise during movies. I can remember two years ago during the midnight showing of the dark knight this ahole kept on checking his phone every 2 minutes and responding to text….geez wth do you really have to get that message to someone in the middle of the night?

    As for jamming, yea it’s illegal but better construction of the theater to prevent good signals helps…only down side is that your phone will work harder to try to search for a signal and therefore you might end up waking out of the movie with a dead battery :|

  55. Shadowfax says:

    “The fact that this even has to be addressed proves how feral most of humanity is”

    Very well put, Mr. Walters.

  56. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    In with first “Ooohh noooooooes…our Free-Dumz iz being taken awayz by teh Obama seekrit Socialist”

  57. ITDEFX says:

    Problem is that usher’s don’t care.

    The ushers I have seen go to the emergency exit , check off something.. walk up and down the side isles and go to the next screen. What happened to “This theater is monitored by CC cameras?” notices… Is this a scare tactic ? So basically texters have no problem texting during a movie, but if theaters decide to broadcast ads via text in the theaters those texters will get pissed off.

    its a lose lose situation for me.

  58. andsowouldi says:

    The world doesn’t stop for the 2 or 3 hours that people are in a movie. You may not have people that depend on you (I don’t), but some people do. Checking a text message to see if something important is needed is not that bothersome. I won’t condone someone texting for a long period of time by any means, but 20 seconds of a dim cell phone light is not going to ruin my night.

  59. sopmodm14 says:

    if its no tolerance, no exceptions, knowing fully well there is no refunds if caught, then you takes your chances

    just turn them off so there is no temptation

    or have a designated area, like the very last row

    then you can text during a diluted movie experience if thats what you wish, lol

  60. Bkhuna says:

    I won’t go to movies or concerts any longer because of the rude, obnoxious, inconsiderate sociopathic assholes who insist on talking or texting during the show. I’m getting ready to add good restaurants to the list.

    It has, at times, taken all my self control to avoid snatching phones from the c&%#su&^ers and smashing them to bits. I don’t pay $200 dollars to go to a concert just to hear the self absorbed jerkoffs yakking.

  61. lalaland13 says:

    I admit I’ve texted in a theater, but I won’t be anymore. Once me and some friends were at the Santikos in San Antonio, and they were all occasionally texting their friends about the movie, albeit with the sound turned off. So I sent a couple of quick smartass texts to a friend, with my phone on either vibrate or silent. I don’t know how he heard, but some older guy just gets right up behind me and in my face and asks me, very condescendingly, to stop texting because “it’s very distracting.” I was mortified, although I also wondered why he didn’t call out any of my friends, since they kept right on doing it. I don’t think my phone was any brighter or louder than theirs, but maybe I was closest to his sightline? Anyway, I felt weirdly singled out, which made it worse.

    I’m all for movie theaters telling people to stop it, though. That way some jerk won’t try to play cop in the theater. No, I shouldn’t have been texting, but he shouldn’t have been an ass about it. Since I’m not sure if there is a good way to tell people to stop it, probably best for movie theaters to set policy.

    I wasn’t trying to be a dick. It was on silent or vibrate, and either he had bionic hearing or was bothered by my screen display. But I hate it when people talk, and I can see how it might be distracting, so I just turn my phone off now before the previews start.

  62. Mr.Grieves says:

    I can see how this is a problem for people who like to hold their phones in front of their face while they text.

    But if you put the phone down in between your legs to text, it covers most light angles.

  63. brianisthegreatest says:

    I can understand the idea here. What I can’t understand is why how you can expect so many people to be so cooperative, and also expect no distractions what so ever. How many people don’t have large high definition tv’s at home? If you want to guarantee yourself peace and quiet, just watch it at home when it comes out on bluray.

    I don’t go to the movie theater for many many reasons. None of those are people texting, but people talking laughing getting up to get popcorn, and all the other consequences of being in a room with 100 people you don’t know.

    What I want to know is how is a quick distraction like reading a text worse than someone getting up and down to go to the bathroom or going to concession or adjusting themselves in their seat.

    But seriously. Movie theaters are pretty weak in general. No one needs to pull out their phone for me to not want to be there.

  64. barty says:

    A theater I used to frequent (before I moved) had a strict no cell phone/texting policy while the movie was running. An employee would randomly walk into a theater, and if you got caught talking on the phone or texting, you got booted with no refund.

    I loved going to that theater for that very reason. Once word got around that they were serious about enforcing that policy, you saw very few people even have them out before the film started running.

  65. Geekybiker says:

    The solution is simple. Put a sniper up by the projector. Inform the audience that the sniper will shoot any light he sees in the audience.

  66. prismatist says:

    I find a 50mw green laser right onto their screen discourages the practice pretty quickly.

  67. El_Fez says:

    “I mean, c’mon. You don’t want the baby to cry or someone talking loudly on their cellphone, but a cellphone light shouldn’t bother anyone. Freedom of speech, isn’t it?”

    Fantastic! Then you should support my freedom of Punch-you-in-the-back-of-your-fucking-head, shouldn’t you?

  68. Bsurvive says:

    I just paid 12 bucks for a movie. Ill watch it if I want. I would never get upset, texting doesn’t bother me. Its the people talking or farting that I hate. Everyone is different I suppose. I don’t really depends on the brightness of the screen.

  69. mmmmna says:

    I have to say that if these people really, REALLY need to text for some reason, let them; but, then, if I stop going to real theaters because the cellphones are used out of control, then I would suspect eventually nobody goes. Poof, end of genre. Rivers will erode into a new course, volcanoes erupt, tornadoes happen, and popular recreation might also need to shift – if cellphone/texting is the catalyst, who needs to point fingers?

    BTW: freedom of speech has always had restrictions: it has never been polite to get your nose into contact with the nose of another person – that is just one example of the limits you are accustomed to allowing. Would you enjoy a $8.00 movie if the person behind you was continuously screaming obscenities at the screen? Would you feel that YOUR freedom was served? Freedom comes with an implied corollary: courtesy.

  70. mowz says:

    Why can’t theaters install buttons that alert management or ushers when there’s a disturbance in the theater? If the button-pusher is being abusive, then the management can kick the abuser out.

  71. jesusio says:

    I live in Tempe and go to Harkins all the time, they’ve been doing this for about six months. It works quite well. A polite reminder before the Feature Presentation starts and you see a bunch of people shutting down their phones. Then again, I rarely go see teenager movies so it may be the crowd I’m watching films with.

  72. BytheSea says:

    You’re not “speaking” when you silently clack your keys and shine a light in a darkened theater. Unless you’re calling your method of speech Morse code. Dumbasses.

    When I’m at home, I don’t sit and watch tv, I do other things — I’ve got the tv on right now. But if I’m paying ten fucking dollars to see a movie, I wnat a goddamn immersive experience. Sit down, shut up, eat your popcorn, and unplug for two hours of your life. It’s good for you.

  73. dru_zod says:

    The last time I went to the movies with some of my friends (all of us are in our mid-20s), I was the only one who didn’t have my phone out texting. One of my friends, who was sitting on my left, was actually texting one of the others who was a few seats away on the same row. It’s like passing notes in middle school. I was slightly embarrassed to even be there with them.

    Why do people even WANT to text in the theater? When I go to the movies (which is very rare), I go to see a movie! I don’t want to sit there and play with my phone because I like to actually watch the movie and follow the plot. If you’re just going to text through the whole thing, why even go? You can do that outside the theater for free; no need to pay $10 for it.

  74. MountainCop says:

    darn keyboard…

    2 – If I have to read the screen, I put the phone in front of and below the seat. If I have to respond, I LEAVE THE THEATER IMMEDIATELY AND THEN RESPOND to the call or page/text/SMS message.

    Yeah, that can be a bit irritating to my fellow patrons, but hey, it’s the best I can do. And honestly, I don’t see many first run movies. I really try to exercise common courtesy – which unfortunately isn’t so common anymore.

  75. jp7570-1 says:

    Freedom of speech is not the issue here. It’s the old argument of using the First Amendment to defend yelling “fire” in a theater.

    Just put the damned cell phone jammers in the theater already.

  76. Charfahl says:

    Too bad Harkins themselves don’t enforce the policy… Seen their employees walk right by people with their phones out and not say squat…

  77. ShinGetterPoPo says:

    Sure, you got freedom of speech. I’ve also got freedom to get you ejected from a location if you’re being a dick.

  78. fokensheatman says:

    Awesome! its not going to do much with the dimmer idiots out there but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

    i actually hate going to the theaters after breaking up with my EX. she would just pick out every little pop-corn munch, foot step down the stairs, or the seldom kick the chair moment. im the quiet kind of person and use to never get bothered by those things but now those things are really annoying.

  79. CapitalC says:

    Forget “freedom of speech”, what ever happened to common courtesy?

  80. macruadhi says:

    OR, just do as I do, find and frequent a drive in theater. Bring your own yum-yums, drinks, and you COULD even fornicate whilst enjoying the odd double or triple feature.

  81. brendolonius says:

    You can have your free speech, oustide of the theater. The theater is private property, does free speech apply? Can’t I kick someone out (e.g. refuse service) to anyone I want?

    Besides, to the ass-clown who brought “free-speech” into the argument: we shouldn’t have to ask you to stop being a self-centered douche.

    Does anyone not want to murderize the guy who talks/texts in the middle of Inception? F** you guy. F*** you! Juno is talking, you shut your mouth.