Whether people want to accept it or not, we are living in a digital age where just about everyone is connected to devices. Whether it's a cell phone, tablet laptop, Google Glass, or new virtual reality devices, more and more people have these in their possession every day no matter where they go. Unfortunately, these places also include movie theaters.
In a possible attempt to connect more with the younger generation of Millennials, AMC Theatres is re-evaluating their "no cell phone" policy inside their movie theaters. The company is weighing a decision that would allow texting and social media usage inside movie theaters, even while the movie is being screened.
Why in the world would they do this to us?
Well, even the theater companies know that we are all attached to devices. However, it would seem as though they are perceiving the usage of technology among the younger movie crowds as an absolute necessity and that it's wrong of them to request, or demand, that you turn off your phone during a movie.
AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron recently told Variety this:
“When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow. You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.”
I can understand the reasoning to a point. I am 27 years old and although I didn't go through high school with a cell phone, my post-graduation life has been with my own cell phone and computer. I get that these devices have sort of developed into a part of you. It might even be that you feel naked without your devices. However, I have never had an issue putting my phone on vibrate for 2 hours to go see a movie in the theater. If I can do it, anyone can.
How would this change the movie theater experience?
I would imagine allowing nonstop and unregulated device usage during movies would be extremely annoying. It's already annoying when someone texts or uses Facebook during a movie. When I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron, one of the guys sitting in the row below me was on his phone the entire movie and I got to a point where I was about to stand up and snatch his phone away from him. It's rude, inconsiderate to others, and annoying. But hey, that's just my opinion.
For many others, it would be fun to be able to text during a movie without a potential consequence. However, if this does become a reality at some point in the future, there needs to be a way to make sure experiences like my Avengers experience don't happen on a wider scale.
With that said, is there even a way to make this happen?
Fortunately, Aron also realizes this is a sensitive issue.
“At the same time, though, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences. There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on.”
To make this possible, Aron has implied that there would be specific screenings that are deemed "social media friendly" and that those would be the only times continuous cell phone use would be tolerated. That's all well and good, but we also know that today's Millennial generation is too busy on their cell phones to pay attention to every little detail of something. I'm guilty of it, myself. If someone hears that texting is allowed, that's all the might hear and they will assume it applies to any and every screening in the theater.
Whatever will be will be, unfortunately. As it currently stands, if someone is using their phone during a screening, the best you can do is go grab someone from the theater staff to come tell the person to turn it off. Even then, they might still use their phone. The reality is you can't really stop people from using their phones, but a majority of people still have enough decency to turn off their phones during a movie and wait until it's over to check Facebook and Twitter.
I am personally opposed to this idea because I feel like it's a slippery slope that would eventually lead to movie theaters being a technology free for all. People would start recording and posting videos online even more than they do now, spoilers for movies would become an online virus even more than it already is, and people wouldn't immerse themselves into the moviegoing experience like you're supposed to.
Going to the movie theater is fun. For a couple hours, you're allowed to just forget the world and enjoy something that stimulates your imagination. I personally find it sad that theaters are forgetting that and contemplating relaxing their rules to try and preserve the experience. I think it would cause a backlash resulting is lower attendance by those who don't want their movies disturbed by glowing cell phones the whole time.
Would you support a "text friendly" theater?
Just a side note
The CEO of Alamo Drafthouse theaters, Tim League, issued a response shortly after news broke of the AMC Theatres fiasco. Although he is supporting Adam Aron's desire to innovate the moviegoing experience and change the AMC experience for the better, he is encouraging people on social media to once again share around #DONTTALK to support quiet cinemas. League also talked about the negative impact that allowing texting and cell phone use during movies would have on the theater industry. Not to mention emphasizing that if this does become a rule at AMC Theatres and people try to text or talk during films at Alamo Drafthouse, they will be kicked out. If you'd like to read the entire statement, check it out here on the AD website.
Our voices have been heard! Just a day after news broke of AMC Theatres CEO, Adam Aron, saying he was contemplating allowing cell phone usage inside movie screenings, he has now released a statement assuring us the current "no cell phone usage" policy will remain. After everyone went nuts, Aron no doubt had no choice but to make it clear that our voices have been heard and that AMC Theatres will not allow or tolerate any texting or cell phone usage. Below is his full statement.