The 10 Commandments of Movie Theatre Etiquette

A Guide to Being a Decent Human Being

The 10 Commandments of Movie Theatre Etiquette

We're heading into the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years movie season and before 2019 is over your local cinema is going to be packed. There will be sequels to Frozen and Jumanji bringing in the family demographic. Other movie-goers will flock to see another Tom Hooper directed adaption of a hit broadway musical, a Tom Hanks starring Mr. Rogers biopic and a Rian Johnston directed Murder Mystery. To add to the craziness, a little film called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is going to be bringing every person in the world to a movie theatre.

If you've never had a moviegoing experienced ruined by someone who failed to adhere to basic etiquette, then you are probably one of the people ruining it for the rest of us. These theatres are going to be packed and if you can't be a decent human being I suggest staying home. It's cold outside anyway and Disney+ is launching soon, that should be more than enough to keep you entertained. If you do go out and see a movie, here is what you need to be able to do.

1. Turn your Phone Off! Seriously!

Movie theatres are designed to create an immersive experience. If you are the kind of person to text in a movie, you probably haven't experienced how euphoric it is to be fully immersed in a great film. For two hours the real world fades away. Instead of stressing about whatever crap is going on in your life you get to sit in a dark room, throw back some popcorn and for the duration of the movie, nothing else matters aside from the story you are experiencing. That is one of my favourite feelings in the world. When the guy in seat J12 decides to check his twitter notifications, that exceedingly rare feeling is broken for everybody in the theatre. Nothing ruins an immersive cinematic experience like the glowing light from someone's phone. And no, bringing the brightness down doesn't make it any less distracting. You're in a dark room, any amount of light won't go unnoticed.

Let's say for the sake of argument that you are a secret agent who could get a call any minute about a top-priority mission to intervene an imminent terrorist attack. If this is the case, don't go to the movies!

Yes, something important could happen during the two hours of the movie. But if the thought of not checking your phone for a few hours is seriously too much for you to fathom, you really need to disconnect for a while.

2. If you don't understand what's happening, shut up!

Seriously, if your whisper is loud enough to be heard by the person next to you over the state-of-the-art surrounded sound system, it's loud enough to be heard by other people too. When you don't understand something one of two things is going on: The film wants you to be confused because they are setting you up for something that's going to surprise you later on. Or you missed something. If you missed something, that's your fault. Don't distract other audience members because of something you missed. You can still enjoy the movie without comprehending everything.

3. If you think a line is funny, laugh. Don't repeat the line.

I don't understand why people do this. Are you hoping somebody didn't hear the joke so you're repeating it so that people will think it was your joke and think you're funny? You're not funny, you're annoying. Laughing is good. In fact, any sort of genuine audible reaction to the film is fine (gasping, crying, screaming...) as long as you're not talking.

4. Nobody Cares about your Commentary

"Did you know that this roll was originally offered to George Clooney but he turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with those Nespresso Commercials?"

Just because you're accurate that doesn't mean you're interesting. And you probably aren't even accurate.

5. Keep your shoes on!

One would hope this goes without saying, but I can't tell you the number of times I have been sitting back in my seat and noticed someone's stinky feet with long toe nails dangling over the back of the empty seat behind me. Make yourself comfortable by all means, but be reasonable. Keep those shoes on your feet!

6. Speaking of shoes... don't let your kid wear those shoes with the flashy lights in the heels.

This is probably good advice to heed in general, not just at movie theatres. They were cool in the 90s and while there's a lot of nineties things making comebacks these days, let's not give those shoes a comeback.

7. Don't Shush.

If you can't tell from everything about this article, I get a little irritated when I'm trying to enjoy a movie but people are chatting away. If you're the kind of person who shushes during a movie, we likely agree on this. What you don't realize is that your shushes are even more loud and more annoying. In this case, two wrongs don't make a right. If they are being really obnoxious, calmly ask them to be quiet. If they don't, report them to the staff.

8. Don't Be Late

The most important part of a movie is the opening. The filmmakers are trying to tell you all the information you need to know for the movie. If you miss the opening, it's very hard to get into the movie. If the trailers are going, go ahead a quietly find a seat. If the movie has started, it's best for you and everyone else if you don't bother.

9. If You've Already Seen The Movie, Be Quiet

I know the feeling when you love a movie so much you have to see it again in Theatres. That's great. You get the powerful feeling of being the only person in the theatre who knows what is going to happen next. Just remember what Uncle Ben told us about what comes with great power. You have the responsibility to pretend like you've never seen it before. "Hey guys watch this" is a sentence you should never say in a movie theatre.

10. Take Your Trash With You

These minimum wage ticket tearers are true heroes. But it is not their job to clean up after you. I mean technically it is, but unless you are a toddler, you should know how to pick up your garbage and take it out with you. When the theatres are busy, these brave, young theatre employees have very little time to flip an entire theatre before the next audience comes in. Don't make their jobs more difficult. Take your trash with you and get out of there as soon as possible.

There you have it, 10 ways to not be a jerk. And honestly, they aren't that hard. They only require a person to have a shred of human-decency somewhere in their sole. If you meet the criteria, that's great! Enjoy the show.

Ben McVittie
Ben McVittie
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Ben McVittie

Photographer, Coffee Drinker, Movie Critic and Nap Taker. I co-host the podcast "Bottom of the Bin". Follow me on twitter @benmcv or instagram @storytimeben

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