An open letter to people who talk loudly during movies

Read Time5 Minutes, 51 Seconds

It all started when a certain actor and his friends disrupted our movie experience with their frat-boy antics.

My friends and I bought advance tickets to see Quentin Tarantino’s latest Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at Nueplex. We were seated next to a local celebrity actor and his group of four friends, a misfortune we were blissfully unaware of at the time the movie started.

Even Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio’s on-screen bromance could not distract from the loud commentary erupting next to us. We were treated to an audible narration on each scene, something that is only acceptable during a Tarantino film if it is done by Quentin Tarantino himself.

When my husband politely asked the group to keep it down, they apologised. Over the next ten minutes the celebrity actor picked up a phone call and proceeded to have a conversation during the movie. Not realising how rude it is to have a conversation in a theatre filled with movie-goers, he proceeded to do it again for a second time.

When the group kept on disrupting the movie experience with their commentary, laughing and frat-boy antics, my husband asked them if they were always that loud during a movie. The actor told him to chill and took a sip from his water bottle.

After the movie was over, we confronted them about their disruptive behaviour. They responded with “we only got excited because we’re Tarantino fans.”

When we explained how rude it is to act like a public screening is your private living room, they reacted by gaslighting us and uttering absurd comments like “Don’t be such hippies.” When my friend pointed out their childish behaviour, they escalated the situation with unnecessary aggression. The only respectful behaviour was demonstrated by the celebrity’s wife, who rightfully apologised and calmed down the male aggression on display.

When you talk during a movie, you’re taking something away from everybody else in the room.

The reason why someone would feel the need to do this could be any of the following:

  1. You were not taught to be quiet during a public performance, or

  2. You talk loudly during films because you like the attention.

This is not a personal attack on this celebrity, just a plea. Please don’t ruin movies for others.

As an actor, you should really know better. Movies are an art form with countless hours devoted by a skilled team on each frame and line of dialogue. The cinema is a space where this art form flourishes and brings together people from all walks of life for a few fleeting hours of entertainment.

The last thing we want while we’re enjoying this brief interlude of escapism is a loudmouthed distraction hollering to his buddies. Don’t be that person.

As we have all gone through a similar negative movie-watching experience at some point, the question needs to be asked: are people not aware of common movie theatre etiquette?

This is a Public Service Announcement for anyone planning to go to the theatre. Below is a reminder of common Do’s and Don’ts that everyone should follow, regardless of whether you are a celebrity actor or watching a movie in the theatre for the first time.

These courteous habits will go a long way in ensuring that you and others sharing the same room have an enjoyable and hassle-free cinematic experience.

Don’t show up late

Arrive at least ten minutes before the movie starts. This gives you plenty of time to arrive to the theatre and grab concessions without missing the story. There is nothing more annoying than the silhouettes and chatter of people walking in after the lights have gone down.

Not to mention, this will save you the personal discomfort of pressing against bodies and avoiding stepping on toes as you make your way down a dark row of seats. As Tyler Durden asks in Fight Club: “Now, as a question of etiquette, do I give you the ass or the crotch?”

Do share the armrest

Sharing a rectangular strip of furniture with a stranger can be difficult: this is a hotly contested space that each cinema-goer feels entitled to. Feel free to claim it for yourself if your neighbour is not using it and save yourself the trouble of elbow-wrestling throughout the movie.

Don’t bring a baby

Bringing a baby to a movie is rude to the audience and a counterproductive move. If you are attending to a baby every five minutes, you will most likely not be paying attention to what is happening onscreen, a lose-lose situation that can be rectified either by leaving your baby at home, or by skipping the cinema until your child is old enough to appreciate the moviegoing experience.

Do munch quietly

Chewing your food should not rival the soundtrack of the film. Show respect for your fellow cinemagoers by snacking on your popcorn and nachos as quietly as possible. A dramatic scene in a movie can easily be ruined by the sound of people munching, slurping and opening wrappers.

Don’t use your phone — ever

The number of people who continue to loudly indulge in personal and business phone calls during a movie is astounding. In movie theatres all over the world, there is usually a short video shown after the trailers reminding patrons to switch their phones off or to put them on silent.

Until we get the same memo playing in our cinemas, here’s a rule of thumb to follow next time your phone rings: It is common courtesy to answer calls outside the theatre, where you won’t disturb other people in the room.

The same rule applies to texting. The screen from your phone is interrupting your neighbour’s movie experience. Either switch your phone off, or take it outside.

Do keep your feet to yourself

This means you should refrain from kicking the seat in front of you. It also means you should not take your shoes off during a movie.

You’re in a theatre, not in your living room. Keep your body parts to yourself.

Don’t talk loudly

This is not the time to catch up with your friends or let everyone in the room in on your private thoughts. There is a time and a place to have a loud conversation. The cinema is not it. And we don’t care how quiet you think you’re being, you aren’t. If your neighbour is being disruptive or behaving badly, complain to the management.

If the bad behaviour persists, ask management for a refund. You are paying good money to see a movie in a silent theatre, not to be pulled into a conversation taking place next to you. You are perfectly in your rights to get the experience you paid for.

Good storytelling does not get the attention it deserves in the current state of our cinemas. Let us finally honour this art form with the respect it deserves.

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