I go to the movies a lot. Maybe not as much as hardcore film aficionados, but for my space in the film world I (TRY, I get sick sometimes) go once a week to the cinema to see a film even before I started reviewing them. In that time I have experienced lots of audiences, and been part of some of them as well but none were so bad as they were this previous weekend.
I have always had some kind of annoying people. Some would just check their phone for a second, or it would ring and the hush it. That’s “fine,” but I am more understanding because I don’t know their life. When I saw Justice League a kid played on his tablet the whole time. That was annoying, and explained exactly why that movie failed. A parent was with him, and he should have been talked to, but it’s Justice League, c’mon.
Until this point I would say the worst experience I had audience-wise at a film was seeing Avengers: Endgame. I was sat between two sets of people. On one side were and elderly couple and their grandson (I assume). They were fine, but the man had a breathing machine that went the whole time. I feel bad that I was upset cause he can’t control that, BUT that was nothing compared to the guy on the other side of me!
The man on the other side was probably my age or close to it. He was really tall, so when he reclined in the chair you could not get passed him, and he refused to move. So he loses points for being rude. Second, he was the nosiest, grossest eater in existence. He ate popcorn by shoveling out a handful, dumb it into his mouth like a bulldozer. It would spill all over his lap. He would eat the crumbs and repeat. He chewed his candy really loudly, and slurped his drink like every sip was the last milliliter of soda in an ice cup. Oh, and every time a character would show up he would say their name. Yes, thank you, I too know that is Rocket Raccoon. Thanks for informing me.
They were all annoying to an extent. But the worst experience I had was so recent and blood curdling I needed to talk about it. I saw The Gentlemen (read the review here, it’s good) with my girlfriend. It was a good time. EXCEPT for the neighbors to my right, and the people behind us.
I’ll start with the people behind us because they were less bad. Part of their group arrived late and they were talking during the start of the movie. It annoyed me, but they died down. Then their phone rang. Instead of just going to turn it off, they let it run until they reached voicemail. All annoying, but passable in the long run of the time.
The people to my right on the other hand were the absolute worst. It was two people. They talked before the movie or previews began. That’s fine, who cares. Then the previews ran for The Boy 2 and the James Bond film. Less fine. They seemed uninterested in both and asked who’d want to see those films (just… I only have a deep sigh for that statement). Then the movie began. They whispered at that level where it’s talking but breathier about every character and scene. They stopped a couple times to go to the bathroom. Only, when they came back they went onto social media and text for at least 20 minutes of the film. It was the most infuriating experience.
Now, I want to play a game. Guess the age and demographic of the people (you don’t have to play, you can just skip, but do seriously guess).
Old Women! They were like 60-70 year old ladies sitting next to me talking like they were the stars of the own episode of Golden Girls!
Yes, old women I will repeat.
I say this because it feels often like younger people kids are bad audience members. They can be for sure. But on balance they’re fine. They might need to go to the bathroom, or have a question, or make a joke. But it’s only ever one, and can be ignored because their parents handle them. Old people, by contrast have no guardian or parent to tell them to quit it.
My girlfriend raised a great point upon exiting and seeing how upset it made me. She said that my own mother (who is younger than those ladies, and my grandparents too) does that stuff when we watch movies. The difference is that we are at home and watching a movie. That is completely different. Home is a private space for just us family members and friends to gather and have a good time. You may see a great film and enjoy its experience, but that is not always the primary goal. Going to the theater has only the one goal of watching and enjoying the film.
Now, this might be just preaching to the choir. Everyone knows how you SHOULD act in a theatre, but it is important to remember that even as we get older that our actions do still matter to the people around us, even if that means going onto Facebook to see what your grandson Zack is doing while he is away for a baseball tournament in Savannah! No one cares about Zack or baseball when Charlie Hunnam is chasing down a group of [censored – EXPLICIT Word] for taking pictures of a dead body.