May 29, 2007, - 5:56 pm

Great Idea!: Regal Theaters Allow Patrons to Report Problem Moviegoers; Debbie’s Rules of Movie Etiquette

By Debbie Schlussel
Three cheers to Regal Entertainment Group.
Although I see a lot of private screenings of movies, I also attend a number of public ones. And I can’t stand when people incessantly talk (including on their cellphones!) and make noise during a movie (including by bringing their screaming infants to the theater). People have lost their sense of common courtesy and the most basic etiquette, yet another symptom of decline/dumbing down of a great nation. You need not be Emily Post or Letitia Baldridge to know that if you’re at a movie, shut up and watch.
Now, Regal is providing patrons wireless devices to anonymously alert the manager of disruptions, rude customers, and other disruptions (cell phones, talking, etc.):

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Regal will try to change that this week by introducing its Regal Guest Response System in 114 theaters, up from a test at 13 that began last year. Customers in Regal’s loyalty points program will be invited to take a cellphone-size device into the theater. If something pushes their buttons – a disturbance, picture or sound glitch, someone recording the film – they can push one of four buttons to alert the manager.
“We’ve seen an improvement in the customer etiquette with the implementation of this program,” [Regal VP Dick] Westerling says. “It addresses these problems on a more routine basis and in a faster manner.”

That’s a great thing I wish they’d thought of sooner. And it’s something that should be expanded throughout the moviegoing industry.
Unfortunately, it comes at a time when most people are renting and staying home. It’s simply not worth $10 plus $8 more for food per person (and expensive gasoline and probably parking) to see most movies out there, these days.
That’s why movie theaters are suddenly interested in politeness and common courtesy. Doing the right thing has nothing to do with it.
It’s all about the bottom line.
***
Since I’m a self-described movie-Nazi, here’s my list of dos and don’t for going to the movies:

* If you can’t find a baby sitter for your infant or other-aged, noisemaking toddler, stay home.
* Don’t bring your 8-year-old daughter to see “300.” “Daddy, why did that man’s head come off his neck?” “What’s a concubine?” “Mommy, what are those two people doing in the bed?” I don’t need to hear you explain Persian beheadings and “the birds and the bees” to your way-too-young kid. That uncomfortable experience is not to be shared with 400 total strangers focused on a screen. There’s a reason it’s rated “R,” which does not stand for Really Irresponsible. Bringing your kid to movies like this constitutes child abuse.
* If you need to answer your cellphone, stay home (unless you are a medical doctor, in which case, put it on vibrate and answer it OUTSIDE the theater).
* If you need to have a constantly-flashing Bluetooth on your ear, stay home. The light distracts theater goers.
* If you need to incessantly check your Blackberry, stay at Starbucks . . . and away from the theater.
* If you need to constantly give your friend/significant other/ companion the play-by-play, audition for ESPN or Monday Night Football. We can see the screen. We hear the on-screen dialogue as well as you do. We know what’s going on. And so does your escort. Dennis Miller got fired from “Monday Night Football” for a reason. His dumb commentary–when what we saw on the screen was more than enough–was beyond annoying. And so is your commentary.
* If you need to make out, get a room. The only physical display of affection we need see is on the big screen.
* Above all, SHUT THE HECK UP! (If you must make a brief comment, whisper!)
* If you didn’t do it before cell phones and Blackberries existed, and it isn’t an emergency, don’t do it now.

Really, I’m not a movie prude. I just want to watch my movie in peace and–other than what’s going on on-screen and through the theater sound system–quiet.

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12 Responses

Only time I go to the theater now is my local Mall. 2nd run theater, but only $2 ($1 on tuesdays). Also, 16 oz drink and a 32 oz popcorn for a (Senior citizen)rate of $4. Saw “300″ on Sunday. Most of the time I just rent the video and watch it om my 36″ screen at home. I do like the “guest response system”, though.

Codekeyguy on May 29, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I not thrilled about enlisting MORE tattle-tales, even if it’s justified. It’s frightening to see how much people love to turn others in, not because it’s justified, but because they’ve never gotten their grubby hands on power before.

steve ventry on May 29, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Right on, Debbie! To the list I would add “don’t put your feet up on the back of someone’s seat or stick them near someone’s head”. I love it when I see an usher ask people to get their feet off the back of seats. If more ushers would just patrol the aisles now and again, there wouldn’t be a need for good patrons to snitch.
WOW, NORMAN B, FINALLY WE AGREE ON SOMETHING. I KNEW THERE WAS “COMMON GROUND” SOMEWHERE. AND I AGREE ON THE USHERS STATEMENT, TOO.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Norman Blitzer on May 29, 2007 at 11:57 pm

I stopped going to movies years ago, unless it is a matinee on an “off day” in a very nice part of town, where I can be assured that the audience will consist of me and a few other middle aged housewife shoppers or senior citizen couples. The public has gotten disgusting. Not sure when or if this bad trend can be turned around.
By the way, we watched Casino Royale last night and I must agree with you, it was HORRIBLE! It was NOT a Bond flick, that’s for sure. I couldn’t even believe my eyes. My husband just shook his head and said, “you were right, that was terrible.” I had told him beforehand that you gave it a bad review so I didn’t have high hopes for it. A Bond movie should be about suspense, intrigue, and shallow sexual dalliances. Bond falling in love? Oh, puhleeeeez!

AmericanJewess on May 30, 2007 at 4:18 am

How about this one…
Hollywood, make a movie worth spending the money on. I don’t see how you can repeatedly subject yourself to the dreck H’wood puts out.

Blayne on May 30, 2007 at 8:19 am

Deb, there’s something else you forgot in that list:
Only go to the movies during the school days around like 11am. Most of the psychonuts will be home or somewhere else around that time.
But I agree with everything you said. The psychonuts don’t care when your watching a movie in the theatures. I was watching spiderman 3 and during some of the action scenes…some guy was shouting something and it cuased a few psychonuts to laugh. I even heard a child crying his head off towards the end of the movie!!!! -_-
I’m gonna see Fantastic Four 2 next month, and as I said at the beginning, I’m going early in the morning to see the flick. That’s all I go to the movies for now…to see superhero flicks.

Squirrel3D on May 30, 2007 at 10:00 am

Button number three is a dead give-away as to what’s really going on here. Hollywierd doesn’t give a rat’s azz what’s happening in the theatres. These kind of distractions have been going on for years. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone lit up a cigarette, yelled at the screen (Scary Movie 2), or I heard a crying baby and the Ushers did nothing. The real reason is Piracy. The MPAA is losing money to “cams” and this is a surrepticious way of fighting back under the guise of pleasing the patrons. At least the nit-wits from the Left Coast ought to be honest about it. As another poster said, it’s really about the “bottom line” and not the consumer. If Hollywierd really cared about the movie going public, they’d put out a better quality product instead of the crap that’s passing for entertainment nowadays.

Rich B on May 30, 2007 at 10:49 am

Years ago, when I went to the first Spiderman movie, I sat near a couple who had a baby with them. The baby’s crying and shrieking didn’t bother me at all–because I couldn’t hear it over the volume of the movie. What bothered me was that the baby was crying and shrieking because she was in pain from the noise level. Frankly, I was in pain too–and wanted to run out of the theater.
Talk about child abuse!

Sue Bob on May 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

Debbie, do your rules of movie etiquette still apply to really, really bad movies? My brother and my friends couldn’t stop mocking Superman Returns. The man of steal turned into the man who feels! Anyway, I agree with everything else you wrote. BTW, I agree with poster Rich B. too, it’s all about the bottom line and Piracy not about the average movie patron.

OneIrishJew on May 30, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Good idea, but I can’t say I’m confident it will work. A lot of people act like maniacs at the movies simply for attention. I’m convinced even cellphone users talk during the movie to try and highlight that they’re the most important person in the room. In short, it’s about ATTENTION. So while it would be nice to put a stop to this behavior, I think the same people will abuse this device, constantly pushing the buttons to get ushers to come in and not know what to look for. Eventually this will become a ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ situation.

AlternativeThought on June 1, 2007 at 10:57 am

We went out and bought a 50″ Widescreen Plasma and a dolby 7.1 sound system.
Our home theatre looks and sounds better than the local theatres and I do not have to put up with the idiots that talk or bring their infants with them.
In addition, I can smoke without having to hear the complaints from the anti tobacco Nazi’s.
This is one of best purchases we made in our household.

ScottyDog on February 12, 2009 at 2:46 pm

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