Movie theaters are opening back up again, and we are really seeing that this week with the return of A Quiet Place Part II. The sequel to John Krasinski’s huge 2018 hit was the first movie that fans missed when the pandemic began, just over a year ago. It was the next blockbuster to hit theaters, when every studio (rightfully) decided to push their movies back months, if not a year.
Now, as more than half of all US adults are fully vaccinated, and the CDC has stated that those who are can go maskless in public spaces, whether indoors or outdoors, the public is excited to return to movie theaters. We saw this with a decent turnout for Mortal Kombat as well as Godzilla vs. Kong, which made $41Million and $96Million domestic respectively, and now A Quiet Place Part II getting $48Million in it’s first weekend alone.
So, as we are headed back into movie theaters this summer, with blockbusters on the marquee such as F9, Black Widow, Jungle Cruise, The Suicide Squad, Free Guy, and In the Heights (my personal favorite), let’s talk about how going to a movie theater is different from watching movies at home, and why it deserves a bit more etiquette.
First of all, going to the movie theater is an expensive ordeal. Even before you leave, there might be babysitters involved, gas, parking, then of course you pay for popcorn, drinks, some candy, and we haven’t even mentioned the actual ticket prices yet. All in all, it costs a pretty penny to go to the movies. Then, the screen you’re watching it on is so big, and the speakers so loud, that you can feel yourself transported into the world you’re watching. You can feel explosions in your chest, you can see the reflection of a teardrop down a cheek. This is a service, something you cannot achieve on your own, which is why you come to this specialty location in the first place. Many people get it in their heads that once you pay for all of this, you deserve to make yourself comfortable. But it is crucial you don’t forget…
OTHER PEOPLE ARE THERE TOO.
Other people have paid just as much as you have. Other people are enjoying the shattering explosions, and those reflective teardrops. They too want to be transported to the world of this movie, and experience something they can’t at home. Because of this…
YOU CANNOT TREAT THE THEATER LIKE YOUR HOME.
Bring Your Mask
This is not a formal rule, but a a temporary precaution we should still take. Yes, I know that the CDC says you don’t have to wear it anymore, but unless you spoke to the theater’s General Manager earlier that day, you don’t KNOW what their current rules are. Bring your mask, put it in your pocket, and if someone asks you to throw it on, just do it. We aren’t completely done with this pandemic yet. Just be kind, and focus your attention on how excited you are to see a movie.
I’m not sure how crowded the theaters in your area are. It depends on how many people went to the theaters before, how many decide they like HBO Max more, how many are vaccinated, etc. But, if you get there, and you realize that it’s packed, do everyone a favor and scoot over. I know we all prefer to have that empty seat between you and the strangers next to you, but if someone a couple are having a hard time finding two seats together, but you’ve got an empty one on either side, just be kind and scooch on down. Unless of course your theater asks you to leave a space open between parties for limited social distancing. Just be aware of your surroundings.
Turn Off Your Phone
Obviously, don’t be on your phone, no texting, no checking Twitter, none of that. The blue light of your small screen cuts people’s attention from the giant one in front of you, that you paid to come look at. And since we are talking about being kind, just go ahead and turn it off too. You don’t need to leave it on “For Emergencies” because you don’t know whether or not it’s going to be an emergency. So unless you are going to check each time you get a buzz-buzz, then just turn it off.
Also, in the year 2021, it’s no longer “cell phones and pagers” but “cell phones and smart watches.” If your watch is going to light up every time you get a text, that now falls under the same consideration as the phone. Turn it off for now.
Again, if you want to talk during the movie, just stay at home and watch it there. But if you’re going to go to this big building and spend all this money with all these other people, be kind and don’t talk. Absolutely don’t talk about something unrelated to the movie, but even if it’s about the movie, just absorb. No asking questions, because everyone else only knows as much as you. Don’t quote the movie, even if it’s a REALLY funny one-liner. Just sit and consume. It’s easy!
Now, if someone else breaks this rule, you should too. The common reaction when you hear someone talking is to go “SHHHHHHHHHH” but that does more harm than good. No one likes a loud shusher, and honestly it might make someone else shush you in response, and now we are in a sushing cycle.
A sushcle. Instead, if you are near them, calmly and quietly ask them to be quiet during the movie. Don’t whisper it, because whispering actually travels farther than just speaking lowly. Most people get so wrapped up in the movie, they forget where they are, and your little comment will remind them. If they don’t stop, or react negatively, it’s time to be the hero and go tell an employee. Trust me, even if you miss the two minutes of plot, you’ll enjoy the rest of the movie much more.
I know you want to get comfortable and enjoy yourself, but don’t take off your shoes. The stank of your feet will slowly envelope the room, and cover up the wonderful smell of fresh popcorn.
Also, if it’s crowded and you have a stranger next to you, be careful with the armrest. If you want to use it, try to stick to an elbow, so they have some space, and you’re not flopping into their area. If they don’t have room on the other side of them, but you have room on the other side of you, then lean that direction, so that you can each have one armrest.
Watch Your Kids
Obviously, the first suggestion with kids to non-kid specific movies, is to get a babysitter. Kids usually don’t understand empathy, and what it means to be kind to strangers. If you do bring your kids, make sure to explain to them the rules before you get there. Offer them a treat afterwards if they behave, like ice cream. If they do start having trouble, take them out of the theater to talk to them, as to not interrupt the other audience members. Lastly, all of these rules go doubly for infants.
Clean Up After Yourself
When the movie comes to a close, and it’s time to leave, make sure you take all your empty food receptacles with you. Even if you have to reach under your chair to get it. The people that have to clean up after are not responsible for you. If you spill your popcorn, I don’t expect you to sweep it up, but don’t leave your empty cups, boxes, and bags just sitting there. There’s a trashcan on the way out of the theater, just pick it up, and drop them in.
Don’t Spoil the Movie In the Movie Theater Lobby
“That was so exciting! Did you see when [spoiler] picked up the [spoiler]? I can’t believe that [spoiler] died! I totally did not see it coming when [spoiler] was the murderer all along!”
Don’t do this. Wait at least until you are all in the parking lot, or, better yet, in the car. There are people lining up to see the same movie you saw, and they want to be just as surprised as you were. Also, lobbies are very echo-y places. Just wait a few more moments, I believe in you.
All of this is to say that you should just be considerate when going to the movies. You pay a lot of money, and other people are also paying a lot of money to just enjoy the movie. Sitting with a crowd of people in a formal theater is an exciting moment, and no one wants that moment ruined. If you don’t think you can follow these rules, just save your money and watch these movies at home. HBO Max is releasing all Warner Bros. movies this year on streaming, Disney+ is putting all of their movies on for a premium price (probably similar price that you are already paying), and otherwise RedBox will probably have the movie shortly anyway. Just stay home if you find you’re not willing to follow these rules.