5 Theatre Etiquette Rules to Remember

Too often we care too much about the quality of a film on screen and too little about the experience of going out to the movies at all. We easily (and justifiably) rate movies on whether or not it is worth it to pay the price being asked. While the movie is the main attraction, though, it is important to acknowledge that the theatre experience can enhance or ruin an evening out.

The best things to see in a crowded theatre are without a doubt action and adventure films. Horror is right up there too, and comedies are close behind. All of these are enhanced by the shared experience as you join others in laughter, shock, and amazement.

As it is indeed a shared experience watching a movie in a crowded theatre, everyone needs to do their part – like recycling, paying into the health care system, and keeping Chevy Chase relevant. So, here are a few things, rules if you will, to keep in mind when going to a theatre. And don’t be afraid to pull a Larry David and kindly explain to the inexperienced or oblivious just what they are doing wrong.

Saving Seats:
The rule is very simple, but very important, and simply a gigantic peeve. One person can save one seat, that’s it. You don’t get one on either side of you, and you don’t get to drape a coat, a scarf, and a fedora across an entire row as you await the arrival of your book club. You arrive on time and you pick a seat, that’s how it works. Once you obtain your spot, then you are free to take to the washroom, buy your candy, or open a door somewhere to sneak in friends, all while your movie companion sits comfortably and watches commercials.

Seat Filling:
If you’re seeing Bourne, or Twilight, or whatever next superhero movie is coming out (Aquaman?), and it’s the first weekend, the theatre will be crowded. Don’t sit one seat away from someone. It’s two seats, or it’s nothing. You know people are coming, just make it easy.

Food:
Anything goes before the movie starts, but when it does begin, stop with the popcorn, nachos, pizza, and Thai food. Nothing that cracks or crunches should be allowed anyway, and if I hear a bag being oh so slowly opened, an act that only creates more noise in more excruciating manner, then just leave. Really the only acceptable food to eat during a film is candy-maybe. No drinks with straws, either. You’re spending 10 dollars on a slushie so all you want to do is make sure you get every last drop of sugar-no thanks. Beer, wine, or lemon fresca are acceptable, just no slurping, gulping, or gasping.

Talking:
As funny as some people can be, no one signed up to hear quips being hurled at the screen-that’s what Mystery Science Threatre is for. Whispers and asides are fine, as most movies call for quick snide comments, but be mindful that you likely don’t know when the film will suddenly go silent. However, talking and laughing and shouting are totally fine during the previews, especially when an awful-looking film comes on and you yell, ‘Must miss!’ (From Jerry Seinfeld, always golden).

Getting Up:
It is here we adopt the unspoken rule of the sports world: you do not get up or sit down when there is action. Sometimes you need to get up during a movie, and that’s fine (annoying, but fine, things happen). While you may need to rush out, you better believe you are not rushing back in, unless you’re on an aisle seat. Otherwise you are not getting in the way of people when something significant is happening on screen, you wait for a break or a lull, and unlike in football or baseball, this could take quite a while, like hockey. When you get up during a movie, know that you may not be sitting back down for a while.

That should about do it (no need to discuss cellphones, just put it away. If it goes off, you’re banned from the theatre for six months, and you’re picture goes up on a website where people can make fun of you). It’s pretty simple. Please be mindful, enjoy the movie, but don’t ruin it for others—there are plenty of actors, directors, and writers that will do it for you.

Anthony Marcusa
A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.

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  • Mark

    You forgot ‘Don’t kick or put your feet on the seat in front of you if someone is sitting in it. If you are going to cross your legs or fidget your legs, be mindful not to impact the seat in front of you. UGHHHHH. I HATE PEOPLE THAT ARE SO CLUELESS!!!!!

    • Hector Henry

      This one its ne i talk they would not forget. @Marc they aren’t clueless they well and know what they are doing.

  • wolfkin

    while i completely understand the sentiment. I’m perfectly capable of drinking my nestea thru a straw without making obnoxious noise. And beer smells of alcohol. When’s the last time someone told you that you have ice tea on your breath.

    I’m very lenient on saving seats. then again I rarely see movies on opening weekend. Saving movies for people arriving is like saving seats for people in pop corn line. It’s not always about draping a coat over seats to save them for people who aren’t there but maybe for people who wanted to get seats first and THEN join the 15 minute popcorn line. As opposed to doing food first and then having to pick from what’s left for seating and then still have to sit thru random previews of movies you may not care about.