Is it rude to use your smart phone during screenings? Cinema etiquette debate rages in US

Film buffs fight to keep tweeters and bloggers who use tech silent

When former top Google and YouTube executive Hunter Walk suggested it might be a good idea to allow cinema audiences to multi-task on their tablets or smart phones, it did not go down well with film purists.

The Silicon Valley venture capitalist’s reasoned suggestion that tech-obsessed consumers might enjoy their own separate screenings with  a little bit more light, wi-fi and plug sockets so they could tweet and  look up cast lists mid-movie whipped up a blockbuster row in  the United States.

He was variously described as “an asshole investor taking a dump on the altar of film” and a “douchnozzle who deserved to be burned alive in a locked theatre”.

Even actor Elijah Wood weighed in on the side of the so-called “shushers” who felt the sepulchral sanctity of the darkened auditorium was in danger of being irrevocably violated by his suggestion. “A movie theatre is meant to create an immersive experience for the audience, not one in which they can work on their blog,” the Lord of the Rings star said.

In Britain, where the average age of cinema-goers is rising, the prospect of rebooting cinematic tradition is proving equally controversial.

A recent survey by the Empire cinemas found that fiddling with a mobile phone ranked alongside  shouting out the ending or putting your smelly feet up on the chairs in cinema-goers list of pet hates. Britain’s biggest chain, Odeon, said yesterday it had no intention of changing its switch-off policy and that it “strongly discouraged” use during screenings. However the social context of  watching films collectively is continually changing.

It is not so far in the distant past that most cinemas were thick with cigarette smoke – something that would seem abhorrent to even the most hardened teenage texter at the local multiplex.

And with the advent of the talkies, cinemas campaigned to get their audiences to pipe down and listen to the action – the forerunner of the ubiquitous “switch off your mobile” adverts of today.

More recent conflicts have tended to revolve around noisy pop-corn munching and those engaged in the perennial back row problem of “loud acts of public displays of affection”.

Mr Walk made it clear that there were certain types of film – monsters versus robots-explosion-fests such  as Pacific Rim rather than the art  house classic Chinatown – in which second screens (like smartphones and tablet devices) would be more appropriate.

A recent report by broadcasting regulator Ofcom suggested that the popularity of hand-held devices had led to the resurgence in 1950s-style front room family viewing habits. 

But Rosie Fletcher, associate editor of Total Film, said that whilst she  was not against having dedicated  text-sessions in cinemas, she could not see the point.

“It’s so expensive to go to the cinema these days that rocking up and playing on your tablet or your smartphone – why would you bother to go? You might not miss the plot but you will not be involved in it either,” she said.

“You would not be having a true cinematic experience. The cinema is a place you can go and get completely immersed in something. You can escape and be part of that film for that amount of time. It is only two hours,” she added.

Andrew Myers, chief executive of Everyman cinemas said he could not foresee a time when customers brought their own media with them.

“In many ways we are similar to a restaurant or pub environment where it would highly unusual for someone to walk in with their own food and drink and sit down and then request a knife and fork and plate from the waiter,” he said.

Blogger Anil Dash, who posted on the side of the texters, felt the violent reaction to his comments went far beyond a reasonable debate on modern manners in the digital age.

He said the response from some creative people, who considered themselves as progressive and liberal on other issues, had morphed into a “regressive resistance” to change akin to the position those that defended slavery or argued that women should not be allowed to wear trousers held.

“I have never even had a phone  powered on whilst at a movie. I have never texted or talked during a movie,” he said.

“They [the “shushers”] are  not saying our way is the best way – they are saying there should  be no other way.

“You can have people saying you are wrong …but what’s unusual is when you say to someone that to disagree with me is not a legitimate position to argue.”

No drama: Cinema etiquette

1. Keep talking to a minimum

Save the chat for after the film.

2. Enjoy your treats quietly

Keep rustling to a minimum.

3. No PDA’s

Keep public displays of affection until after the film.

4. No mobile phones

Keep all mobile phone use until after the film, including texting, social networking and internet surfing. All phones should be switched off or turned to silent so they don’t interrupt others mid-film. 

5. Keep feet off chairs

Remember your fellow cinema-goers have to sit in them.

6. Don’t disturb your fellow cinema-goers

Arrive on time, and no getting up to go to the toilet unless its absolutely necessary.

7. No removing of shoes

Keep your foot odour confined to your shoes.

8. No littering

Take your leftovers with you and no popcorn fights.

9. No plot spoilers

Don’t ruin the movie’s ending for others by posting on social media.

10. Allocated seating

No sitting in other people’s pre-booked seats.

Etiquette guide by Empire Cinema

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before