Cinema etiquette – Dead or Alive?
Recently I made a rare trip to the cinema which highlighted some of the reasons why I don’t go very often. I used to go regularly but as prices have gone up and the number and quality of films I feel it’s worth paying that much to see has decreased it has unfortunately become a fairly rare occurrence. I’m often just happy waiting for the DVD or these days the Blu-ray release.
However a few films are interesting enough or of a scope and scale that you feel it’s worth seeing on a big screen and I decided that the new Ridley Scott film The Martian was one of those. It had received excellent reviews and looked very interesting. I haven’t read the book on which it’s based but I don’t think this mattered.
First of all let me say the film is really, really good. Thoroughly enjoyed it although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, being a lot funnier for one thing. Certainly it had the scale and the wonderful landscape shots that Ridley likes and I’d very much recommend it whether you like science fiction or not. It’s a very human story and not outside the realms of reality however far-fetched it may seem.
The excellent film aside, this particular experience of going also highlighted other reasons why I don’t go so much anymore. This was the other people who were there. I’ve tended to go and see films with friends or on my own when I’ve had days off work and can go during the day and have on occasion found myself to be the only person there. But in the past part of the experience was sharing it with other people, laughing together, feeling the excitement together etc.
This time with it being the opening weekend and a Saturday afternoon the cinema was quite full and there was the usual opening of crisp bags, sweets, chocolate, the crunching of popcorn and whatever else people had bought. Once the film starts it’s usually loud enough to block a lot of this out, I can live with that, it’s expected and you have to accept that it’s part of going.
What surprised and annoyed me most this time however, and I’m not sure I’ve noticed it so obviously before, was the number of people who were using their phones during the film. Looking at things, sending messages, passing them around to their friends and laughing at whatever it was they were reading. Is this a thing now? Pay a lot of money to see a film but don’t actually pay attention to it? Is it really that hard to turn your phone off and concentrate on the screen for a couple of hours or has the cinema just become another social meeting place with the film as much background as music in a bar? It certainly seemed that way for some.
Then again I’ve seen the same at gigs, people having long conversations about all kinds of things or even trying to make phone calls while the band is playing!! I don’t understand the point of being there if that’s all you’re going to do.
Thankfully someone near the worst offenders said something to them and although it didn’t stop completely it wasn’t as bad but was still a distraction and wasn’t easy to ignore.
It didn’t spoil the impact of the film but it did spoil the experience of being there and just adds another reason not to go if this is how inconsiderate people are becoming. This actually shocked me but was I just particularly unlucky or is this more common now? Has any type of cinema etiquette vanished?
I hope not but it’s something I’m going to be more aware of next time. And if you’re going to the cinema yourself soon, hopefully you’ll be watching the film and not on your phone most of the time. I for one would thank you.