Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Discuss: Is Allowing Cell Phone Use At The Movies The Way Of The Future?

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 28, 2012 at 2:03PM

We've all had that experience. Sitting down in a theater, and realizing, 30 seconds into the movie, that the person sitting next to you is not going to turn their phone off. They could be texting, tweeting, updating their Facebook status or, worst case scenario, even making a phone call. They may not even be the only ones in the theater. Sometimes, you'll put up with it for the duration of the movie, quietly seething. Sometimes you'll ask, politely, and they might even stop. Sometimes they won't, and things will get aggressive, confrontational even. And it's possible that it's not going to be going away.
19
Cell Phone Baby

We've all had that experience. Sitting down in a theater, and realizing, 30 seconds into the movie, that the person sitting next to you is not going to turn their phone off. They could be texting, tweeting, updating their Facebook status or, worst case scenario, even making a phone call. They may not even be the only ones in the theater. Sometimes, you'll put up with it for the duration of the movie, quietly seething. Sometimes you'll ask, politely, and they might even stop. Sometimes they won't, and things will get aggressive, confrontational even. And it's possible that it's not going to be going away.

Last week, eyebrows were raised by a study in The Hollywood Reporter on the way social media users interact with entertainment. Some discoveries stated the obvious -- 88% of those polled said they considered social networking a form of entertainment, 72% have posted online about a movie after seeing one. Some were more surprising -- only 9% says that comments on social media were their principal reason for seeing a movie, with good old fashioned trailers still accounting for the largest cause of a want-to-see factor. But the biggest headline piece regarded the use of smartphones in movie theaters.

Of the 750 social network users between 13 and 47 polled, 55% of those who confessed to using a phone in a theater admitted to texting during a movie, 27% have gone on Facebook, and 19% had made a phone call. And while 75% of all respondents said that mobile phone use in a theater "would make the experience distracting and less satisfying," in the key 18-34 demographic, a majority were said to believe that using social media during a movie would make the experience better, while just under half said they'd be interested in going to a theater that allowed phone use during a movie.

And while for many who view the cinema as a sacrosanct place of moviegoing worship, the bottom line is that how audiences choose to experience and interact with popular enterainment simply can't be ignored. One only has to look at Sunday night's "Mad Men" season premiere to see how things are dramatically changing. Numerous people were live tweeting the show (or updating Facebook) as they watched it, and though there were a small handful of dissenters, for most, this was a routine and expected practice (indeed, for many shows -- "Breaking Bad," "Game Of Thrones" -- live updates/comments/conversations for new episodes as they air are common practice).

So, are all these young people with their smartphones being overly entitled? Maybe. But the fact is, so were we less than a generation ago. In some regards, the movie industry is facing a similar sea change that their colleagues in the music biz did, when they failed to respond fast enough to when music began flying between fans over the Internet. Their stubborness and refusal to adapt nearly caused the entire industry to collapse and in many ways, it still hasn't entirely recovered. The movie biz has been doing a bit better, moving into the VOD and digital copy arenas much more quickly, but as a whole, the theater experience is one that is still that falling behind. With home theaters now reasonably affordable and high def streams of movies just a click (or BluRay) away, it's becoming harder to lure young moviegoers to theaters (particularly when tickets can cost $15-20).

Listen, we're not advocating texting or cellphone use at the cinema -- it still drives us nuts. But, we're old, and not the customers that are being looked at to sustain multiplex chains in the years to come -- it's the kids. And they set the tone for how movies are experienced, and if they want theaters they can sit in and text and tweet, only a fool would ignore what they're asking for. Cinema buffs will always have their arthouse altars and options to commune with cinema. We love that too. But multiplexes are entertainment chains, in service of making money, not honoring cinema. They never have been, never will be. They answer to the bottom line first and foremost. Just like screenings for Moms at a lower volume so they can bring their babies or live events like concerts or sporting matches beamed into theaters, allowing texting is another option for multiplex owners to capture a market that is already difficult to snare. We're not saying it's the only answer to attract younger moviegoers -- overpriced tickets and concessions, 3D surcharges, shoebox size and filthy cinemas, piss poor projection and more are still problems -- but social networking is part of the tapestry of how we communicate today, and that does need to be recognized.

We've said our piece, but what about you? Are you dying to head to a movie theater where you can text in peace? Now that the texting genie is out of the bottle, is there any way to get it back in again? Are we going to start seeing iPad screens light up next?  Weigh in below. --additional reporting by Oli Lyttelton

This article is related to: Features


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates