There’s always one place I can turn to clear my mind and just relax when things get hectic, and that place is the movie theater. The cinema is a form of escape from the real world, taking in fictitious stories, and you can simply enjoy them with other members of the audience.
However, sometimes you just can’t escape the annoyances of the real world and they follow you into the theater. Now I’ve seen movies with great audiences that knew how to respect each other, but at the same time I’ve been in movies theaters with audiences who were just callous and disrespectful to others.
Here are my 5 most recent bad experiences in the movie theater.
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- The annoyance: Reading subtitles aloud
- Perpetrator: A mother
This had to be one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had in a movie theater. During the scene in which the Apes are talking amongst themselves, a mother in the crowd and a couple of friends were watching the movie behind me and began reading aloud the subtitles on the screen.
Since this was an early screening on the opening day, the 30 or so of us in the audience literally all turned around to stare at the woman. Even her young son who she had taken with him had told her to quiet down to which she replied, “You don’t tell your mother to be quiet.” Finally, someone in the audience told her to shut up and she did, but we could still hear the odd mumbling every now and then.
4. Let Me In (2010)
- The annoyance: Non-stop commentary
- The perpetrators: Middle-aged couple
If there’s one thing I look forward to in movies’ heavy in atmosphere, it’s utter silence from the audience. I got no such treatment from a middle-aged couple sitting behind me. Throughout the entire film—and mind you, this was a near two-hour movie—the couple behind me would just comment on every single thing happening on screen. It took quite the bit of patience to hold back and not cuss them out.
This experience made me think of the days when ushers would actually go into the theaters to quiet down disruptive audience members. I hate to say it, but they more than likely bumped down my score for the movie, which was still enjoyable.
3. The Adventures of Tintin
- The annoyance: Restless little girl
- The perpetrators: Little girl and her lazy mother
If there’s one thing that will set me off in this world it is unruly children in a setting that requires complete silence and respect. That effect is nearly doubled by negligent parents who put no effort into pacifying their children. Such a case happened to me and I nearly blew off my top watching The Adventures of Tintin. This little girl in the theater sitting in the same row as me would not stop moving around the entire movie, much less keep quiet.
All she did was whine, moan, kick the seat in front of her and switch seats. What made this worse was the mother made no such effort to calm her child down. She just simply let her act however she wanted thinking no one took notice. I did, and the only thing holding me back was courtesy of not ruining everyone else’s experience in the theater and cussing out a mother and child. Throw in the fact that this was the third movie in a triple feature on the day and the restraint I showed was pretty darn amazing.
- The annoyance: Plain stupidity
- The perpetrator: Self-important female
This is one of the stupidest things I have ever had to witness in a theater. Immortals was the last film on another triple-feature night and was the last showing as well—10:15 pm showing if I remember correctly. The theater I was in featured D-Box seating—motion chairs, for those unfamiliar with them—in the back two rows and this idiotic and self-important woman decides to sit in one of those seats. Obviously, those seats cost extra and are reserved for people who purchase tickets for them, but this woman decides to sit there anyways. This is a busy night, so the theater is packed and she’s sitting in someone’s seat that was reserved.
So what does she do? Tell the person who reserved the seating she was sitting in to eff off. The person who bought the ticket for that seat comes back with management hoping to explain the situation to said woman, but she stubbornly refuses to move, and she wants a refund, a free movie and a better seat for the movie. Bare in mind that this has caused a 15-minute delay in the showing and it’s late at night and I’m at my wit’s end having watched 2 previous movies and being at the theater for a good 6 hours, both waiting and watching. Eventually, the crowd boos the woman into leaving. However, the damage was done and I was left in a bad mood, which was followed by a less than stellar, if not stupid film.
1. The Dark Knight Rises
- The annoyance: Teenage Kill Joys
- The perpetrators: Teenagers
The Dark Knight Rises was a movie I had been waiting for for four long years. A group of friends and I decided to go watch its midnight screening. We get to the theater at 10 and get in line. Fast forward to 11:30. The theater opens for the line to start filing in and this group of high schoolers cuts ahead of me and my friends. At this point we didn’t care because we were heading into theater. We get into the theater and find that that very same group of teens is sitting in the row directly behind us.
We all take our seats eagerly waiting for the movie to start and so begins the pre-show. The group of teens behind us keep talking and, at this point, I don’t mind it so much as I figure they’ll eventually shut up once the movie starts. The teaser trailer for Man of Steel comes on and that’s when I start to lose my patience with this group. A ton of idiotic remarks are made, but hey, the movie is what’s important right now. Then The Dark Knight Rises begins and these teens still won’t shut up. At this point it kicks in that I’ve waited four years for this movie, another two hours in line standing with one bad leg and I was on 4 hours of sleep from the previous night with only a light dinner. I just lose it and start cussing them out to shut up. At first they had shut up and I thought that was the end of that, but there were three other times I had to cuss at them to keep quiet.
In all the years I’ve gone to theaters—especially the last three years where I’ve gone to the theater over 150 times—this was my breaking point. Until then I had no trouble restraining myself and keeping things civil, but factoring in a lack of sleep, hunger, idiotic remarks and non-stop talking I snapped. Not enough to jump my seat and start a fight, but it came dangerously close. Had I not been sitting next to my friend who was trying to keep me calm I would have done so without any regard for consequence.