Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Mobile Phone

After games, movies are probably my greatest passion. I’m lucky that my town has a multiplex and it offers a sort of ‘all you can eat’ service. I pay a fixed amount each month and all ticket costs are covered. The attraction for the cinema is that I’ll be there more often to buy overpriced popcorn and drinks. The attraction for me is that I can easily budget and see heaps of films. Furthermore, any film I’m a bit unsure of might as well be seen as it’s not costing me anything extra to see it.

A glance at my timeline widget will show you I get through a lot of movies and, as far as the movies are concerned, I enjoy them a great deal. I find the experience of going to a cinema, the screen, trailers and all that stuff to be very enjoyable.

However – is it just me or are audiences the worst thing about cinemas?

When I go to see a movie, I go to see a movie. I don’t go to send texts continuously on my phone. Nor do I continue conversations on my phone. I don’t go with a dozen mates who are too immature to handle a passionate scene without falling into a fit of giggles or who, every 10 minutes rush out of the screen en masse, clambering over seats or calling each other only to return moments later with more giggles or waving their mobile phones around. Constantly kicking chairs, making noise or doing anything they can to provoke a reaction seems to be some people’s goal.

Poor behaviour isn’t restricted to the youngsters either. Adults on their phones or, amazingly, listening to music through one earpiece or simply chatting to one another or at the movies.

The behaviour is rude and inconsiderate and it degrades the experience of every other patron who wants to see the film. Often, it seems, this is the explicit reason for such behaviour in the first place. Yes, I can go out, miss some more of my movie, and call an usher in to observe people being well behaved until they go away again a few minutes later.

Unlike many of the people who set out to ruin a movie-going experience, I work for a living. I can’t just choose to see a film on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. I’m also aware that, from a business perspective, I’m one person. If one person is complaining about a group of five people then, purely on numbers, why should the cinema care? I’m only worth a fifth of the revenue.

In fact, cinemas don’t seem to care at all. After taking your ticket and popcorn money it’s unlikely they’ll get more cash out of you – yet they’re obliged to house you for a couple of hours. There’s little worth, from their point of view, making those two hours better or worse because they’re not going to earn extra income from it. Sometimes I wonder if they’d rather not show the film at all.

So, in spite my 30 or so years being a good cinema patron and in spite of my repeated comments to staff and managers who assure me they’re doing lots to make my experience hassle free (no evidence of this is forthcoming) I’m considering not going to the cinema any more. I can quite easily get the latest releases in good quality and watch them on a 42″ TV at home. I can get my own popcorn and ice-cream (at better prices), I can pause things if I need to answer the phone. Hell, I can even grab trailers if I want.

This is a shame, but on increasing instances I’m leaving a cinema feeling that my time has been wasted as I could not enjoy the film or the film-going experience due to the selfishness and poor behaviour of the audience.

Is there a solution? I don’t know. Cinema trade seems very healthy and each summer sees more blockbusters than the last. Why should they invest more money or effort into keeping patrons happy when they’re queueing up to see movies anyway?

I don’t manage cinemas. I don’t know what their cash-flow is or what their overheads are. What I’d like to see is some positive steps taken to inhibit the functionality of mobile phones in cinema screens. Something that goes a little further than an animated panda telling you not to use your phone. I don’t care if it’s lead lining in the cinema. Or some ultra-high frequency signal that blocks phones from getting to their networks. There’s simply no need to use a phone in a cinema. People seem so concerned that they simply can’t bear to be out of touch with their phone-buddies for two hours that they have to text or natter in a place where communication is expected and intended to be a one-way thing – between screen and viewer. I never have my phone switched on in a cinema. There is simply no reason to have it switched on.

Knowing that I can’t expect people to behave with civility or consideration an alternative/additional pipe-dream comes to mind. At the end of the day, I want to hear the film, not other people. If I could plug headphones into my chair and tune into the movie and drown out the popcorn-munching prats around me then I think we’d all be happy. I get my movie experience, selfish idiots can keep texting their equally selfish mates in the adjacent seat. Many cinemas actually have an audio service for the benefit of the hard of hearing or the blind. This would simply be an extension of that service.

I’m not sure how workable either idea is, and it’s a shame such a ‘solution’ needs to be sought simply because people are too rude and selfish to abide by some simple considerate rules for a couple of hours. Something I’ve enjoyed doing most of my life is being ruined because the people providing the service don’t care for their customers. So if nothing changes, I’ll simply stop using the cinema as my means of viewing movies. All in all, I don’t think I’m asking for very much – either from the cinema or from the audience.

5 Responses

  1. SledgeHaMMER June 3, 2008 / 9:11 am

    Get off yer butt Koff, get another large HDTV in that lounge of yours, come and raid my collection and enjoy the good life of cinema-at-home ™

    OR get yourself some freakin’ surround sound for that games room of yours that already has the 42″ HDTV (for shame!) πŸ˜‰

  2. Battleship June 5, 2008 / 11:31 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about audiences being the worst part about visiting the cinema. The general public are ignorant, rude and completely oblivious to other people.

    I can understand laughter, or clapping when a well-loved character makes their first appearance on screen, but talking is just flat out not okay… and talking on a mobile phone is grounds for on-the-spot euthanising. I swear when I was younger, there were staff patrolling the aisles asking people to shut up. Now they just come in at the end to clean up the needless mess created by lazy slobs who can’t even take their own food wrappers to a bin a few metres away.

    As much as I love the cinema, I often feel the same way you do – that I might as well just watch films at home. Another example of how the mob rules, and ruins it for everyone else.

  3. Omaesan June 24, 2008 / 1:02 am

    I have one solution for you: don’t go to the movies when everyone else does. It’s simple: to avoid masses of uneducated youngsters and half-brain adults don’t go to evening sessions in weekends. Choose instead matinee sessions or the last of the last ones. Go to the movies on weekdays. It works wonders for me & my friends, we always manage to see the movies relatively hassle free. I don’t know how is the multiplex on your town, but surely it isn’t full every day.

    Last time I went to see a saturday evening movie was The Blair Witch Project. The cinema was plagued with little adolescent fuckers that fighted the fear and nervousness the movie provoked with laughter, jokes and general idiocy. I promised myself that I’ll never commit the same mistake again.

    (Psst… visit us at, gamesey’s new revamped face. Now with new and powerful anti-troll features πŸ˜‰ )

  4. Juan Carlos August 2, 2008 / 2:16 pm

    I was looking for Mark Seven bag originally used in WW2 by Britians. This is same of its kind used in all Indiana Jones Movies. Finally I ordered from but not sure of strap included it, it is too short. Have someone idea to find some larger size? Any suggestion will be great help.

  5. Tiggy Porkson August 9, 2008 / 11:15 pm

    Totally agree too. I’m often put off going to see a film anywhere near its release date because I know full well that kids will be sitting in front behind and to the side of me chatting away. Another thing that annoys me (even though I can see the financial incentives) are 12A films which result in more adult films being ruined by toddlers. I have to admit though, when Forest were playing in the last game of last season I had to go watch iron man because I couldn’t live with hearing the scores come in and I did check the internet out to see if we’d won. Not a common experience as those who know forest can understand.

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