People have been going to the movies since 1897, yet sadly there
is still a need to write about this topic. Feel free to spread
this Etiquette Tip far and wide. Perhaps my two cents will make
a difference to the movie-going public.
What’s the first
thing you think I will say about Movie Theater Etiquette? It
is the first thing nearly everyone mentions
to me as their biggest pet peeve …
guessed it, Turn
off your cell phone. I cannot except any excuse for
a ringing cell phone at any event OR MEETING (and
that goes for pagers and alarm watches, too). Even the most inexpensive
phones can be turned to “vibrate” or “meeting
mode” with just a couple of steps. Theater managers post
signs and present cute on-screen reminders. Everyone just needs
to get in the habit. Please. Here’s my tip for those rare
occasions when you must take a call while at the movies or similar
situation: When it vibrates, immediately press the
talk button on your cell phone to cease the ringing. You immediately whisper, “One
moment please.” That’s it—nothing else. Do not say “Hello,” as
that will prompt your caller to begin talking. After you exit the theater resume
the conversation by stating, “Thank you for waiting—I was in a
movie theater and couldn’t talk until I left the room.” Some people
think text messaging is a remedy for not talking in a theater. These people
are wrong. The glare and glow of the cell phone is just as disturbing
as the ring and noise of a conversation. Leave the phone alone and just enjoy
Be on time! The starting
time of each film is posted in the newspaper, online, and at
the theater. There’s no excuse
for entering the theater and disrupting those who were courteous
enough to arrive on time.
Be patient in line. No one enjoys an impatient person who constantly
appears to be rushing and pushing his or her way through a line.
Remember, there is no amount of shoving or complaining that will
make the line go any faster.
Choose your seat with care. Look around as you find
your seat. Once seated, remove your hat or any other item that
the sightline of those behind you. Especially if you are tall or
see a short person behind you, choose your seat with sensitivity. Here’s
a quick story about a situation that happened to me while attending
a late afternoon movie and inspired this month’s tip. My husband and
I entered the theater to find only about a dozen other viewers seated at various
locations in the theater. We chose seats in the middle of the theater in the
middle of a row with empty seats all around us. Two big guys entered the theater
and chose to sit literally in the seats right in front of us. The taller of
the two sat right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. The theater
was practically empty, why did he choose to sit directly in front of little
ol’ me? He literally blocked my view of the screen. I tapped the man
on his shoulder and asked, “Could you please move a couple of seats either
way. You are blocking my view?” I will not quote his response here, but I will say it was not
friendly or favorable. We had to move to other seats..
Sit once and remain seated. No one likes to be seated beside
or behind someone who gets up and leaves their seat several times
before or, worse yet, during the movie. Plan ahead. Visit the restroom
before taking your seat. Buy all the refreshments you may want
and make all the calls you must before the movie begins. If you
know you may have to leave during the film, choose a seat near
the aisle and, preferably, near the rear of the theatre.
Refrain from ALL unnecessary talking once the film has begun. If
you must talk, make it no louder than a whisper: If the person
sitting next to you asks you to repeat yourself, then you know
you are in the realm of the correct volume. Stop and think: Am
I speaking at a volume even the person in front of me can likely
hear? If the answer is yes or even maybe, then you are probably
speaking too loudly. Holding side conversations, even in a whisper,
can be heard. Make NO side comments. Also, laughing too loudly,
especially when no one else is getting the joke,
can be terribly annoying.
Always face the back of the theater when entering a row of
seats. When entering a
row to find a seat or leaving your seat
to go toward the aisle, never allow your buttocks to be the face
of neighboring people. Because of the way we bend as we sidle between
the seats, our rear-end extends farther backward than our knees
or chest. If you are facing the rear of the theater, your buttocks
may touch the backs of the seats in the row in front and maybe
even the back of the heads of a few people sitting there, but,
if you face forward, your rear is in the face of all the people
you pass—not a very positive appearance.
Check the ratings. Only bring children to movies that are content appropriate. Children—beginning about age four—will
enjoy going to the theater to see appropriate movies. Until then,
enjoy videos at home or hire a sitter when you want to enjoy a
first-run feature. A noisy baby or a bored child who becomes disruptive
bothers everyone in the theater.
Be quiet with every movement. Most candy, popcorn, and other food items sold in theaters
are served in relatively quiet wrappers.
Even so, try not to make excessive noise while eating or drinking.
Don’t scrunch papers or boxes, don’t rattle or chew
on the ice in your drink, don’t slurp the last of your drink
through the straw, and, if you are eating something very crunchy,
keep your mouth closed while you chew very gently and quietly.
Stay to the end of the film. Some people, including my husband,
enjoy viewing the credits at the end of a film. Especially here
in the San Francisco Bay Area, where many films are made, the name
of a friend or acquaintance may scroll by. If you are a person
who does not enjoy viewing the credits or know you may have reason
to leave the theater during the film, try to sit in an aisle seat
or toward the back of the theater so you can exit with the least
amount of disruption.
Showing “too much” affection in public: A darkened
movie theater may feel like you are in a world of your own, but
you’re not. Leave such displays for other private locations.
NEW FEATURE: The Question of the Month
Why are people so mean spirited these days? I am curious to know
what makes people feel the need to have power over others in
situations that serve no purpose, like the man who
nearly ruined my movie experience. I wonder if there is anything
we can do to help turn this seemingly epidemic around. Please submit
your comments on our BLOG page at http://www.advancedetiquette.com/blog.
Your responses could be the subject of a future tip.
view our past Etiquette Tips of the Month, please choose a