Major Theater Chain Admits to Possibly Changing Texting Policies. Internet Combusts with Anger
Weeks ago, we reported on a groundbreaking social media study about texting habits and the media we consume, from television and the Internet to movies. One result of the polls showed that younger moviegoers would support movie screenings that allowed texting. They preferred to interact with friends during a movie experience.
Needless to say, Fandango readers were vehemently opposed to this idea.
But at the time, I mentioned that the tide indeed was shifting in this general direction, and texting and Tweeting will, in the near future, become part of the contemporary movie-going discussion, even if it’s limited to specific times at isolated theaters catering to patrons who’d like for it to happen.
Guess what? The “future” is now.
As reported over on our sister site, Movies.com, theater executive gathered in Las Vegas for CinemaCon debated the use of cell phones in multiplexes recently, saying that open policies could help lure younger audiences back into auditoriums.
“If we had a movie that appealed to a younger demographic, we could test some of these concepts,” said Amy Miles, CEO of Regal Entertainment, who said the company entertained such options when 21 Jump Street opened. “You’re trying to figure out if there’s something you can offer in the theater that I would not find appealing but my 18-year-old son [might].”
Greg Foster of IMAX seemed to second the notion that a change in policy was necessary to cater to the need of teenagers. “We want them to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence,” he said.
But you responded to such stories by saying texting in a theater would prevent you from ever buying a ticket to a movie again, and you are not alone.
Alamo Drafthouse CEP Tim League put his foot down in the discussion, saying, “Over my dead body will I introduce texting into the movie theater,” he said. “I love the idea of playing around with a new concept. But that is the scourge of our industry. … It’s our job to understand that this is a sacred space and we have to teach manners.”
And many who took to the Internet to voice their opinion echoed the sentiments proposed by League. Movies.com did a great job of collecting responses from passionate theater-goers. Here are my favorites:
Theater owners want to appeal to what kids are into these days, like texting. Maybe they should also hand out percocet & oxycontin too! - Erik Davis, @ErikDavis
If we're making demands I want to smoke (which I think would actually bother people less). - Jesse A Carp, @jessecarp
There's no room for compromise here. Compromise allows people to get comfortable not paying attention to the movie. To think that those people would then willingly restrict themselves to "phones allowed" screenings or rows is ludicrous and ignorant. I don't understand why there's even a discussion on this. Movies are God, the theater is church, and you shut the [&%$#] up on sacred ground - Luke Mullen, @ldmullen
This is the latest round of an ongoing discussion, but don’t expect it to go away any time soon. Theaters are torn between serving two different audiences with very distinct preferences, and they’re not going to shut down a potential revenue stream to satisfy one group over another. But if they can try to cater to the needs of both groups, you know they’ll have to test text-specific screenings … and I’m willing to bet it happens sooner rather than later.
Tell us your thoughts. Join the discussion. And for now, turn your phone off when you enter a movie theater. Your fellow patrons thank you in advance.
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.