Remember the times before cell phones became a household item. The time when you could go into a theater and get lost in the movie and not have to worry about what was going on outside of the theater. Part of that movie going experience is having the film be entertaining and engaging and take us away from reality, even if it was only for a short time. But now, with many people’s cell phones attached to the hip, it is getting a little bit harder to get lost in that movie when a text alert goes off, or when a phone rings, or when the phone’s volume is so maxed out you can hear their conversation. Then there is the phone’s brightness.
Some have tried to solve that problem by giving friendly reminders that a phone needs to be turned off or at least put on vibrate so that others can enjoy it. It’s not always effective, but it can at least tell the audience that you paid good money to see a movie, why not just ignore your phone for a little bit. Still, there is always that one person. That one person who is going to ruin the movie experience no matter what. So AMC Theatres has found a solution to that: they are basically waving the white flag, and giving up, by experimenting with the possibility of allowing texting during a movie. More on the story below.
The topic has become a hot button issue once more at CinemaCon this week. The convention is set up to enhance the movie going experience, which includes concessions, improved loyalties program, lenses, chairs, and more. One thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is not to use mobile devices during a film. But it seems that AMC CEO Adam Aron is “open to making some theaters texting and mobile device-friendly.”
Speaking to Variety, The idea is to attract younger, smartphone-savvy consumers. Aron argues:
“There does seem to be a consensus that there are pockets of consumers who do not see as many movies as other segments of the population and that we can be doing more to attract those people. Millennials come to mind. We need to reshape our product in some concrete ways so that millennials go to movie theaters with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theaters throughout their lives.”
He is then asked if appealing to millennials meant that they would be allowed to text, and he said the following:
“Yes. When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow. You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.”
Well that is rather unfortunate. Millennials, as he puts it, need to understand that, there is a time and place for answering a call or responding to a text, and during a movie isn’t one of those times. If you are expecting a call or text of great importance, then don’t watch a movie during that time. Instead, purchase a movie ticket for a time until after you have taken care of your business. And if there was an emergency call, wouldn’t you want to take it in an area where there isn’t any background noise? Why talk about said emergency when the movie speakers are blaring?
Aron does realize the seriousness of this issue:
“At the same time, though, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences. There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on.”
One possible solution Aron offers is to “take specific auditoriums and make them more texting friendly.” That sounds like an idea. Another possible idea is to reserve the entire back rows and make them text-friendly.
Still, the fact that we are still having this conversation, even after many of us have expressed our concerns about mobile devices being a distraction, some of us cannot get away from social media to see if our Instagram photo got a new like or if our latest tweet got retweeted. Frankly, I do not care for any of that when I am watching a movie. Because I paid good money for an experience without any such meaningless disturbances.