Cinema Etiquette: My Love/Hate Relationship with the Cinema


My Love/Hate Relationship with the CinemaDo you know the cardinal sins of cinema-going? As a film critic, you kind of have to enthralled by going to the movies, it’s in the job description surely? And yes, I absolutely love nothing better than sitting in the cinema watching some of the newest films out at any given moment.

Even better, being a film reviewer, I get to go and watch all these incredible movies for free. And that’s not meant to be bragging or gloating in any way, it’s just a fact. I get paid to go to the movies; what an amazing job right? Well, in some ways yes it really is. But in others, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m now comfortable enough to visit the cinema completely on my own and I actually enjoy that experience a little more than going with someone else. That’s because you don’t have the distraction of someone else munching their popcorn, asking questions or popping to the loo every five minutes. But even with this new found love of being on my lonesome, I’m starting to fall out of love with the cinema.

You see, over the last couple of months, I’ve started to discover that I really don’t like going to the movies. The reason? People. For some bizarre reason, the cinemas I tend to frequent always attract the degenerates of society. You know the ones I’m talking about surely? And how many of these cinema sins have you committed? Don’t be shy, leave a comment in the box below.

The Light Polluters

One thing I cannot abide in the cinema is someone who feels it necessary to pick up their phone every 20 minutes to double check what’s going on in the outside world. You’re in the cinema for goodness sake, turn your damn phone off and enjoy switching off from the outside world. It’s just a matter of cinema etiquette!

Phones in the cinema warning

During a recent showing of Ready Player OneI was sat at the back of the cinema with the constant interruption of someone’s gigantic smartphone flooding the auditorium with light every 20 minutes. The person in question hadn’t even had the courtesy to turn the brightness down. Come on, if you’re going to piss people off by checking your phone, at least have the common courtesy to turn your screen brightness down a bit.

Colette may have given birth to triplets, but personally, I couldn’t give a shit, I’m hear to watch King Kong smash up the DeLorean from Back to the Future. As they say in Odeon before a film starts “turn off your phones, finish your conversations, it’s about to begin”. If only people would listen.

The Talkers

Group of women talking in the cinemaThis one gets a little like Brenda from Scary Movie. The worst experience I have ever had at the cinema was during a showing of The Greatest Showman with family. This wasn’t in the same cinema as the previous incident, so it’s clearly not an isolated issue. Whilst enjoying Hugh Jackman’s roaring dance number, Come Alive, it was quite clear two groups of individuals really couldn’t be bothered with watching the film at all and had just turned up for a good old natter.

To the left of me was a group of youngsters with suitcases, constantly rummaging and talking, no doubt about the trip they were about to embark on – or had just got back from for that matter. To the right of me, another group who consistently spoke for about 45 minutes until I plucked up the courage to leave the screening and grab a staff member.

Now, I was accused of being embarrassing by someone in our party at this, but if you’re paying to watch a film like we all were at this point, you have the right to enjoy it. If someone is deliberately spoiling the experience for everyone, they should be ejected immediately.

As it happens, the group started talking again as soon as the staff member had left the screen so it didn’t make a blind bit of difference anyway. What a waste. It’s a cinema rule that you shut up as soon as the film starts and if you’re a proper movie fan, before the trailers start too!

The Inappropriate Parenting

I’m not a fan of little people, and by that I mean children. I’m not broody in the slightest and couldn’t think of anything worse than taking a child to the cinema: with the exception of my little sister who I absolutely love taking to the pictures. Why? Well, she’s mature beyond her years, but that’s another story for another time.

We’ll go back to the showing of Ready Player One for this tale. A 7pm showing was the screening of choice and about 10 minutes into the film I was shocked to find a family of four entering the cinema. “But Ready Player One is a 12A in the UK, so that’s not too much of a problem” I hear you cry? The children in question were no older than 5, with one still being carried and with a dummy in her mouth.

Now I get that parents need time to chill out, but that’s why I and everyone else goes to the cinema; to chill. I don’t go to the cinema to listen to screaming children and shouting parents, running up and down the aisles every five minutes because Suzette needs her nappy changing. In a kid’s film, sure, it comes with the territory, but this was completely unacceptable.

The Late-Comers

I am a stickler for organisation, especially when it comes to going to the cinema. To the dismay of my partner, I like to arrive at the cinema at least 20 minutes before the showtime. That’s just my OCD on overdrive, but it means I don’t disturb anyone coming in when the film has started.

People sitting down in the cinemaFor some reason that I cannot fathom, cinemas continue to let people in up to 20 minutes after a film has actually started. Not only does this disturb people who bothered to show up on time, but it spoils the first-part of the film for late-comers. Surely, it’d be better to admit defeat and book tickets for the next showing? Or even come back another day when you know you’re not going to miss anything or disturb anyone else already enjoying the film.

For added bonus points in this category, make sure you shine your smartphone torch into the retinas of already seated guests so that you can see where to sit, it’s sure to be an absolute winner for both you and those around you.

The Seat Kickers

I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that sometimes going to the movies isn’t the most comfortable experience. The seats aren’t particularly enjoyable to sit in for long periods of time, and yes that does apply to the expensive ‘premium’ seats that some cinemas here in the UK have.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t dream of constantly kicking the seat in front of me if it was empty, never mind it being occupied by another paying guest. This happened to me on a recent trip to see Black Panther. In the UK, the situation is resolved by turning around, shaking your head and making a disapproving mutter under your breath, but still, all that unpleasantness for nothing. You wouldn’t think a rule would have to be made to not to kick the seat in front of you, but it seems some people really don’t care.

The Solution

The Prince Charles Cinema in the UK was one of the first of its type back in 2012 when they introduced people dressed in morphsuits called cinema ninjas to stop poor cinema etiquette in its tracks. They would hide throughout the cinema during a film and pop up behind groups of individuals should the be ruining the experience for everyone else.

Cinema ninja

Now this may seem extreme, but I think a watered down version could be applied to any cinema in the country. People should be dotted about screens like the Air Marshals of film, making sure everyone is enjoying the movie and it isn’t being ruined by a few people.

Regular staff don’t always like to get involved because of the abuse they’re likely to get from intervening, but people employed to just do that would go down very well indeed.

Finally, I think it’s time to bring back an aforementioned classic. Everyone has had to deal with a Brenda from Scary Movie, haven’t they?

What really annoys you at the cinema? Perhaps cinema etiquette is slightly different where you are? Leave a comment in the box below, we read and reply to them all.

4 thoughts on “Cinema Etiquette: My Love/Hate Relationship with the Cinema

  1. Maybe things are different in the UK, but here in Australia I’ve known cinemagoers to be nothing but polite and respectful.
    I live in a town of 100,000 people, and in the two decades I’ve been attending the local theatre, I’ve only had two bad experiences – one with a group of restless toddlers during “Toy Story 3”, and the other with some, shall we say, lumpen teenagers during “Straight Outta Compton”. Otherwise, my experiences have all been pleasant.

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