Phone use in the movie theater is out of control
By Jimmy Fortuna-Peak
You’re sitting in the theater, as the lights dim down and the film starts. It cost $10 to get into the show, but that’s okay. The big screen, the atmosphere, and the surround sound makes it worth the price. Just when things are all set to begin, someone in the front row pulls out their phone and starts scrolling through their Facebook and Twitter feed, completely distracting you from what’s being shown on the big screen.
In recent years, cell phone use in the theater has grown significantly, and it seems to still be rising. Whether before or during the show, you are almost always guaranteed to see a phone screen light up at one point or another.
The price of a night out at the movies has skyrocketed in recent years. The cost of tickets along with concessions can add up to about $20-$25 per person in some situations. This price alone has caused fewer and fewer people to go to the theater, and having someone make the movie unwatchable by using their phone makes people avoid the theater all together.
Theater attendance in 2017 was the lowest it’s been in 25 years. To counteract this, some theater chains have tried to improve the theater experience by implementing reclining seats and gourmet food. However, this solution misses the root of the problem.
Some critics claim declining theater attendance to be an effect of the lower quality films that have been coming out in recent years, while others believe it is because of newer, better home video options. Both contribute to theater attendance, however, I believe the biggest reason is the inability of people to be able to stay off their phones for two hours. People go to the theater to get the most immersive movie experience possible. Phones tamper with and downgrade this experience, causing people to be less likely to go to the show. That is why theaters should start focusing on ways to prevent phone use rather than better seating and food.
Some theater chains in London have talked about creating phone detecting devices that would shine a laser in the face of someone using their phone during the show. Others have talked about distorting cell phone connection inside the theater’s premise. However, both methods have serious flaws such as eye damage and the inability to contact help in an emergency. Both are just in discussion and shouldn’t be anticipated any time soon.
If cell phone use is to be stopped, it needs to be enforced by the movie-going public. Using your phone before the show and during the opening previews is acceptable, but once the lights dim and the logos appear, the phone needs to be silenced and put into the pocket. If you absolutely need to use your phone during the theater, walk out, do what you need to do, then re-enter the theater. If you see someone on their phone during the show, don’t be afraid to tell them to turn it off. Everyone else in the theater will thank you for it.
Going to the movies is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be two hours of pure escapism where you can laugh and/or cry at the story in front of you. Phones have ruined this experience.If you can’t stay off your phone for two hours, then you have a serious addiction and should seek help immediately. It is up to us to stop this and make the theater an escape once again. Just sit back, relax, enjoy the film, and turn your phone off!