If you’ve been to a movie (at the movie theater) lately, then you’re probably familiar with the PSA-type message that plays at the beginning — asking everyone in the audience to put their phones on silent and refrain from texting during the show.
Well, if you’re one of the few people who actually listen to that message, you may soon be even more annoyed by all the impolite movie-goers (and their bright screens) around you.
Texting may soon be allowed in theaters
Adam Aron, the CEO of AMC Entertainment, recently stated that the company is considering officially allowing texting during movies in an effort to appeal to a wider demographic — millennialsin in particular.
‘When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow,” Aron said in an interview with Variety magazine. “You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cell phone. That’s not how they live their (lives).”
This doesn’t mean that all AMC theaters will allow texting, just that the company is considering the idea.
‘We’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences,’ Aron said.
He also later tweeted about his statement, clarifying that it’s just an idea, and if it does happen, the implementation will be limited to making specific theaters ‘more texting friendly.’
Aron has been the head of AMC for only a few months now but has already made big moves to advance the company, recently announcing plans to buy Carmike — which would then make AMC the world’s top movie theater chain, according to Variety. Other plans include expanding the chain’s food and dining options, a better loyalty program and more aggressive marketing tactics.
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And AMC isn’t the first company to consider the idea of allowing texting in movie theaters.
â€‹During a panel at CinemaCon in 2012, Amy Miles, CEO of Regal Entertainment, said this: ‘If we had a movie that appealed to a younger demographic, (like ’21 Jump Street,’) we could test some of these concepts (at some screens),’ Deadline reported.
‘You’re trying to figure out if there’s something you can offer in the theater that I would not find appealing but my 18-year-old son might,’ Miles said.
‘We want them to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence,’ said Greg Foster, senior executive vice president of IMAX Corporation, during the same panel. He added that without their cell phones, young people may ‘feel a little handcuffed.’
But even in this increasingly digitally-connected world, some theater companies say they won’t jeopardize the experience just to satisfy young people who ‘feel handcuffed’ without their phones.
“Over my dead body will I introduce texting into the movie theater,” said Tim League, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse — a small theater chain. “I love the idea of playing around with a new concept. But that is the scourge of our industry. It’s our job to understand that this is a sacred space and we have to teach manners.”
League said movie theaters should provide a ‘magical’ experience, but on the other hand, Miles said ‘one person’s opinion of magical isn’t the other’s.’