Movie Theatre Etiquette


What would you do if you went to see a movie, at a theater, and the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were there, mercilessly calling out commentaries throughout the movie?

Would you put up with it, as best you could, and endure the movie?

Would you be shushing them?

Would you be moving seats?

Would you complain to someone?

Would you run out of the theater and go see something else??!

My husband and I had date night yesterday and went to the movies, all excited to get out of the house, like a couple of teenagers.  The movie starts and 3 women and 3 little kids stroll in late and claim the seats next to us and in front of us.  The 3 little kids range in ages from 5 – 10.

The movie is PG-13, showing at 7:30 at night, and is 2 1/2 hours long.

So, already we’re thinking “A 5 yr old? At a PG-13 movie? That ends at 10pm?”

Then the talking begins.  And never ends.  The 3 ladies sat and had “coffee talk” for 2 1/2 hours!  They spoke to each other at a regular volume the entire film.  And paid zero attention to their kids who were running up to the screen to touch it and racing back to their seats, climbing over their seats and making a ridiculous amount of noise.

It was the longest 2 1/2 hours ever.  And the loudest movie theater we’ve ever sat in!

But rather than make a big deal, we just suffered through it…

This is when I started to ponder movie theater etiquette.  Did Emily Post, author of Etiquette and whose name is synonymous with manners,  have anything to say about this?

She most certainly did!  “Nothing shows less consideration for others than to whisper and rattle programmes and giggle and even make audible remarks throughout a performance.”

As with any situation where you find yourself out in public, amongst people, it is imperative to be mindful of others.

  • If your child wants to see a movie at a theater, go during the day, when most families bring small children and they won’t be apt to disrupt a nearby couple’s romantic evening out.
  • Make certain that your cell phone is off. Volume off.
  • Keep in mind that rattling paper, loud slurping sounds, excessive coughing, etc can all be extremely disruptive.
  • Now’s not the time to chat.  Whispering a quick question to your spouse or friend is fine.  Just realize that what seems like a whisper to you is loud to everyone else in the theater who want complete silence.

And if you find that you are in a situation like the one my husband and I found ourselves in last night, it is still important to be courteous and take the higher ground.

These too are Emily’s suggestions:

  • Change seats, if possible.
  • If not and they persist, kindly tell them that you cannot hear the movie over their talking/noise.
  • Lastly, ask an usher to get a manager to speak with the disruptive party.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, hopefully, everyone can…

“Enjoy the Show!”

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