The Movie Palace Guard: Anti-Texting Done Right
I have the answer for those of us who want to see movies without being distracted by texters: Move to the midwest.
Extreme? Possibly. But while the theater you frequent (or used to frequent) may just shrug its collective shoulders at texters, two multiplex chains in our nation's heartland take a different approach. Warren Theatres is based in Kansas and features a little button on its Web page touting its cellphone policy. "Click for more" it says. So I did. Here's what it said:
On Friday, September 19th, 2008, Warren Theatres introduced a zero tolerance cell phone policy in all their luxury theatre auditoriums. People using cell phones (phone calls or text messaging [emphasis added]) during the on-screen presentation will be asked to leave, without a refund. The policy is in response to increased cell phone use during movies by some theatre patrons, and increased complaints from others.
According to company spokesman Dan Gray, “Having the person next to you talking on the phone or even sending text messages [emphasis added] during the movie is disruptive. We hope the new policy will help ensure a quality motion picture experience for all of our customers.”
Is that great or what? The no-refund part is crucial, I think. Hit rude people in the pocketbook.
Up in Michigan, Celebration Cinema also fights the good fight. "We believe that the vast majority of our customers feel that they should be able to watch a movie without being interrupted by someone talking on the phone or the beam of light coming from someone texting," Steve VanWagoner, the company's vice president of marketing, told me.
About a year and a half ago, after a series of complaints from customers, the chain launched a campaign called "Respect Your Neighbor." Because all their theaters are all-digital, it was relatively inexpensive to create a series of animated shorts to show before the features. They use a local animation house to produce new clips whenever they need one. The shorts are gently amusing and feature Celebration's anthropomorphic (and, let's be honest, slightly disturbing) popcorn kernel, Flick the Movie Kid. "Keep Da Feet off Da Seat!" is one of his slogans. The most critical one for our purposes is: "Blinking lights are for landing airplanes, not watching movies...so please turn off your blinking stuff!"
Celebration solicits other movie-watching tips from the public and if they post yours on the Web site you get a free movie pass.
I find it interesting that both these efforts are in the so-called flyover states. Steve said Grand Rapids, where Celebration is based, is known as a conservative area. "Being conservative, people are policing themselves a little bit more than maybe they are in other markets," he said.
He noted that people often return to Grand Rapids unpleasantly surprised by their moviegoing experiences in other markets. "They say, 'Wow, we've got it made here. People really know how to watch a movie.'"
AMC Entertainment is also based in the midwest--in Kansas City, Mo.--and its blanket program about movie theater etiquette is called "Silence Is Golden." Not a bad sentiment, but it isn't texting-specific. AMC did run a texting-specific message before screenings of "Kung Fu Panda" last year, said spokesman Justin Scott.
Said Justin: "We worked with the studio and we had an actual spot where Jack Black as the voice of the panda came out, did some kung fu and actually commented on texting. He does his shtick and he points to the audience and says 'I'm watching you' about texting."
I think theaters need to deliver that same message--whether it's by an animated popcorn kernel, an animated Jack Black or an actual Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep or Jamie Foxx--before every single movie. Only then will it sink in.
Which theaters have you noticed provide an enjoyable moviegoing experience? Conversely, which places do you avoid? Share your observations in the comments section below. Let's see if we can't get some of that cornfed courtesy--that Radical Civility--back here in D.C.
June 24, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Radical Civility
Save & Share: Previous: The Text Best Thing: More People Join the Crusade
Next: Pleasantville: Do We Need to Go Back to the '50s?
Posted by: dr_klahn | June 24, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dr_klahn | June 24, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sheepherder | June 24, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dr_klahn | June 24, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ArlingtonGay | June 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | June 24, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cathy3 | June 24, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.