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Social Media Survey Says Theatergoers Want Texting, Tweeting In Movie Theaters. Do You Agree?
Generally speaking, texting in movie theaters in a no-no. Jumping on a smartphone to surf Twitter, update your Facebook status or answer a text likely will earn you scornful looks from patrons seated around you. And God forbid you actually answer a phone call during a movie. People have been tossed out of multiplexes for less.
But will that still be the case a year or two from now?
Revolutionary results from a new survey conducted by the market research firm Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of The Hollywood Reporter suggests that social media’s influence over entertainment consumers is growing at a rapid clip, and theater owners eventually might have to bend rules – or drastically shift policies – to adapt to the wants and needs of the ticket-buying public.
Here is a shocking statistic revealed by the study: 55% of people polled admit that they have texted during a movie, and 27% say they have checked Facebook while in a movie.
And here’s the real bombshell: A majority of 18-to-34-year-olds polled by Penn Schoen Berland “believe using social media while watching a movie in a theater would add to their experience, and nearly half would be interested in going to theaters that allowed texting and web surfing.”
That’s the spark that might, in time, initiate change.
Obviously, younger audience members who are growing up with the latest social media tools are going to want to bring that experience into the theater. As the poll discovered, 79% of television viewers visit Facebook while they watch TV, most likely to comment on what they are watching. Why would that be any different in a movie theater? You can bet the number of patrons admitting to checking Facebook or texting in a theater would jump from 55% to near 80% if the practice was encouraged by theater owners and not vehemently discouraged, as it is now.
As a parent of two young boys, I was introduced to a novel concept adopted by certain theater chains of hosting “Mommy and Me” screenings (or, in my case, “Daddy and Me” screenings) of first-run films. They’d take place on a Wednesday or Thursday morning, and would be filled with parents whose kids were encouraged to talk, laugh, cry, walk around … all of the things kids can’t do during a regular screening because it would annoy fellow ticket buyers. I once saw a woman change a baby’s diaper during a screening of Superman Returns, and nobody in the theater batted an eye.
Take the time to peruse the in-depth study today. It uses facts to solidify the theory that Twitter and Facebook postings drastically influence people’s entertainment selections. And the results point toward inevitable shifts in the way we watch television and movies … including, I’m sure, the introduction of Twitter and texting policies at a movie theater near you.
Sean is a film journalist who has covered the industry since 1998. He's a regular film reviewer for The Washington Post and a daily contributor to Movies.com and Fandango, Senior Film Critic for AMC's FilmCritic.com, a contributor to USA Today, and the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA). As the father of two bustling boys, Sean's often exhausted but impossibly happy and immeasurably proud.
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