Last December, police in Kentucky tasered a man for texting and talking during a film. We’d hate for it to come to that in London, so here’s our polite guide to twenty-first-century filmgoing.
Dear readers, it has come to our attention that a rise in chatterers, crunchers, insanely loud popcorn-chompers, rustlers, sniffers and social media users is blighting the cinema experience of Londoners. Only last week news reached us from the Hackney Picturehouse of a bad-mannered filmgoer Instagramming the screen during ‘Inherent Vice’. So, for the benefit of the common good, here is our indispensable guide to cinema etiquette.
Don’t use your phone
The cinema phone-user will be regarded as a social pariah. There are rare situations in which it is acceptable to keep a phone switched on during a film: the case of a prime minister awaiting a call on a matter of national security but also eager to see Liam Neeson running around a European city punching people, for instance. Everyone else, your bright, massive-screened phone is annoying. Yes, even if you are trying to hide it by texting inside your handbag.
Do have a pre-emptive
It is customary to ask a small child before a long journey, ‘Do you need a wee?’ Little people have small bladders and lack the necessary experience to calculate Ribena + two hours = big pee. If you are over seven, grow up. Go before the film starts.
Do feed your face before
The most polite course of action when taking advantage of the snacking options at the cinema is to shovel your popcorn during the ads, so reducing the impact on those around you. The sensitive cinemagoer is thoughtful in their confectionery choice, avoiding sweets with crispy packaging.
Do keep your feet to yourself
It is bad manners to transmit body odours in public. With this in mind, refrain from removing your shoes. It is also unacceptable to kick the seat in front. Position your posterior at the back of the cinema seat to avoid this most irritating faux pas.
Don’t arrive late
At the cinema – as in all social situations – punctuality is a mark of good manners. Timing your entrance for the exact start of the film, after the end of the adverts, often results in a miscalculation, causing you to arrive during the film, to the annoyance of those near you.
Don’t colonise seats
If you wish to spread your belongings over the adjoining seat we suggest purchasing a ticket for your Sainsbury’s carrier bag.
Don’t show off
Ooh, you clever thing. You’ve just got the reference to that obscure Woody Allen film. Jolly good. But do keep it to yourself. Loud solo reactions, intense guffawing and general displays of ostentation are widely considered vulgar.
Do keep it zipped
Never talk at the cinema. If you are the kind of person who struggles with a plot, you might want to acquaint yourself with the film on Wikipedia prior to your visit. All other conversations (‘Is that her from “Orange Is the New Black”’, and so forth) can wait. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to talk during the trailers, and it is impolite to shush any cinemagoer who chooses to do so.
Got that? Good. Now you have permission to go check out our film listings.