It's Time We Start Allowing Cell Phone Use in Movie Theaters

Categories: Film and TV

EmptyTheater560Sept10.jpg
Photo by Sarah_Ackerman.
This is the only time the modern movie theater is cell phone free.
On Monday, a grown man in Canada picked up his cell phone and dialed 911 to complain that another grown man was using his cell phone in a movie theater. While most folks agree that this was a grand overreaction - 911 is for serious things, even in Canada - they also understand his frustration: cell phone use in movie theaters is out of hand.

Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere with an Alamo Drafthouse or a similar theater with a strong anti-cell phone stance, there's a good chance at some point during your movie viewing experience you'll notice the soft glow of a screen being checked.

As much as it sucks and as annoying as it is, rather than fight the good fight it's time for true lovers of cinema to start thinking about how to change the system rather than fight it. Cell phones are too omnipresent in our culture to pretend the masses can be changed.

It's time to give the masses what they want: approved cell phone use in movie theaters.

There are few objects in modern society that cause as much debate as the cell phone. We argue about using them in our cars, at restaurants, and during sexual intercourse. And while their use in the previous examples are respectively unsafe, awkward, and just plain weird, it feels like the most passionate fight against them has been in our movie theaters.

However, try as they might, the forces are against movie lovers in this battle; they're the only ones who don't want cell phones in theaters. Everyone else seems to think it's a really good idea.

A lot of theater owners love the idea. As they worry about how to get more people to actually spend money on going to the movies, allowing free use of cell phones is an idea that's been floated about as way to increase business. Most people want to be able to use their phones during a movie, and most theater owners don't want to deal with the hassle of tossing patrons out of their theater, no matter what they ad they run before the movie states.

Studios think it's a pretty good idea too. They might make a big stink about piracy, but they know just as well as the people who pirate movies that it's not some kid with an iPhone sneaking in to the multiplex that's getting their films on to the Internet; theatrical film piracy happens overseas, Americans just get to benefit off of other people doing the uploading. In fact, Disney is going the complete opposite direction and encouraging people to bring their iPad to the theater so they can download an app that will help them sing-along during The Little Mermaid.

My Voice Nation Help
46 comments
Netha Mogel
Netha Mogel

I agree Jeff Berlat! When my husband was living in Mexico we thought it was 10X worse than here in the states. We took it that most movies were in English with Spanish subtitles. BUT when the same situation happens here? Oh Boy! My husband is 6 ft 4 in and 250 lbs and he has one of the deepest & MEANEST voices when he yells...I have seen him get so fed up with theater goers sitting behind us that he ROARS at them that perhaps HE could suggest to the theater owners that they PAUSE the movie so THEY can finish their call FIRST! I have sunk in my chair and the rest o he theater? They APPLAUDED Ron! The caller quickly hung up and not another peep was heard out of anyone during the entire movie!

apduncan
apduncan

This ius the most idiotic argument about  phone usage ... turn the damm thing off for two hours, the world can wait that long.


Jim Rassinier
Jim Rassinier

What a failure of an article. Why do you keep choosing to post it?

Na Li
Na Li

i want it out and about in just about every establishment - it's rude and inconsiderate to be yacking on the phone while others are trying to enjoy whatever they are trying to enjoy

Chris Marullo
Chris Marullo

Scramble the cell signals. Make a disclaimer when the tickets are sold and before the movie starts that there won't be any service if its a liability issue. But I'm sure that's been thought of before so maybe it's not doable.

Imhotep Taylor
Imhotep Taylor

Do the alamo drafthouse thing and have someone kindly tell the user to put it away or they'll be ejected. I personally enjoy going the Drafthouse in Katy just to not be around the festering pool of idiots the fill up every theater in Houston.

sdeflora
sdeflora

Why not go whole hog?  Every movie patron gets a cellphone, an ipad, a nintendo DS, a screaming infant, and a 2lb bag of Jolly Ranchers to constantly unwrap during the movie.  Hell, why stop there? Since we're catering to the lowest common denominator as far as attention span goes, let's install screens in the back of all the chairs so people can watch the latest episode of "Teen Mom" during the boring ass "talky bits" of the next Transformers movie.

We'll call it the "VIP TICKET".

Tim Dugan
Tim Dugan

It's not true. We all want to be accessible in case of an emergency. The problem isn't cell phones so much as folks being rude

itstiptoe
itstiptoe

I HAVE TO GO 2 HOURS WITHOUT CHECKING MY TWITTER !!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO  lol   these people are whats wrong with the world

g_fonk
g_fonk

So you think someone rude enough to use their bright cellphone in a dark movie theater will have the forethought to plan on attending a specifically-designated cellphone screening? BRILLIANT IDEA!!!!!!!!

Joe Pinney
Joe Pinney

Make sure that the special screenings have the sound turned down very low and the screen is very small, so as not to disturb those wishing to use their cell phones during the movie ("what movie? there's a movie here?"). And charge everyone $20 to be able to sit in a room full of strangers all using their phones.

Anse
Anse

Absolutely not on the cellphones in theaters, and they ought to be banned at concerts, too.

Marco LopeZ
Marco LopeZ

Even better adult night for movies, restaurants, everything.

Hector Ayala
Hector Ayala

I agree with Brandon Scholl; however, instead of giving in to them, they should be asked to leave the theater (with no refund) and then be banned from that theater and any of it's affiliates for at least a year.

Brandon Scholl
Brandon Scholl

I loathe the glare of a bright screen in my field of vision during a movie (you know, during some of the dark moments). It's just distracting, especially if they have a noise for each button they push. What's wrong with just putting it on vibrate or off for two hours? It's supposed to be escapism, we're already on our phones for hours a day.

John Locke
John Locke

This is such a dumb, pointless article.

randmc333
randmc333

This is a stupid article.  Like most articles in the Houston Press.

Richard Cerda
Richard Cerda

What do you expect? The popcorn is not going to instagram itself.

Trillian Ninetysix
Trillian Ninetysix

Exactly. Just because some other jackass isn't sufficiently interested in the flick to actually watch it, that doesn't mean I'm not. I go to the movies to see the movie. I don't go to get caught up on the social lives of strangers.

Joe Meagher
Joe Meagher

No, no it not time for that. If you need to use your damn phone, when we BOTH have paid money to see the movie, then get your lazy ass out of your seat, walk down the aisle, and into the lobby where you can do whatever you need without interrupting others.

Robert Blain
Robert Blain

Bottom line- the reason I go to Alamo Drafthouse Houston is because they don't allow you to use phones.

Linda Hardy
Linda Hardy

I won't be paying for that either. I still have an old t.v. and won't upgrade until all workable old tvs in the house are broken. I can wait. Actually I could probably live without all of it. :)

Papa_Kin
Papa_Kin

Dear God, can the trolls who write these horrible articles please die of terminal genital warts? Well maybe not die... but suffer enough so they can't ruin our society and/or local newspaper anymore? Thanx G!

Michael Krause
Michael Krause

That's it, I'm done Houston Press. One troll article too many. I'll get my local news somewhere else, since I can't get it here.

Steph Kyle
Steph Kyle

I tried to keep am open mind, but still, no.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Lol.  This article was a big swing and a miss.

Tish Squish
Tish Squish

Absolutely not! Is this article a troll?

Alan Hernandez
Alan Hernandez

That's why I try to go to a theater that strictly enforces no cell phone policy. I've been to a theater where someone kept using their big iPad and it was so bright that it kept distracting me. Made me want to grab the iPad and throw it into traffic

Mary May
Mary May

FAIL ( mr. cory garcia!)

Stephanie Davis
Stephanie Davis

I think some movie showings have been marked as "twitter" events. Want to use your phone? go to that or I'll throw popcorn at you.

Tiffany Vanderhider
Tiffany Vanderhider

what sort of pathetic jackass thinks they are so important that they can't turn their phone off for 1.5 hours?

Linda Hardy
Linda Hardy

If cell phones are allowed in a theater that I just dropped $50 for a family to see, will the last time I drop $00.10 at a movie theater. I will done and wait until I can watch them in the privacy of my own home.

Matt Li
Matt Li

sure thing jonathan swift

mack36
mack36

How hard is it to turn your phone off for a few hours? Mr. Garcia, I disagree with your cinema hatting rant and I don't want you and your cell phone sitting near me.

basshole
basshole

"Most people want to be able to use their phones during a movie..."

Um, no. 

WestSideBob
WestSideBob topcommenter

I'm willing to bet there's an electronic way to prevent cell phone signals into or out of any building.  Theaters will be afraid to implement the technology due to liability concerns.  

Then again, why does anyone drop over $10 a head then not pay attention to what they just paid to see ??? 

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Are you f*@*ing nuts? I just paid $12-15 to listen to Sheniqua run her mouth while I'm trying to watch the movie? Hell no, turn the damn thing off and enjoy the movie you schmuck.

Houstess
Houstess

What a dumb idea.  Next thing you know the Heathers will be doing a loud live action play by play on the part of the TELEPHONE that you TALK into.  

H_e_x
H_e_x

Cell phone use can be allowed in theaters when smoking is allowed again. Seems like a fair trade off.

mburns111
mburns111

@John Locke That's the Houston Press for yah! Gotta get those page views somehow!

Mobile_Alert
Mobile_Alert

@WestSideBob Cell phone jamming by civilians is a federal offense, although I don't believe anyone has ever been prosecuted for it. Also, like you said, liability issues.

My solution? Cell phone attendants. Turn in your cell phone, get a pager like at a restaurant, if it goes off, time to go check your phone for that "important" text. Or if you need to check on something, leave the theater to get your phone and do it.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Employment

General

Health & Beauty

Houston Event Tickets
Loading...