When I was a kid, people who spoke during movies were punished. A group of large ushers would march down the aisle, and shine powerful flashlights into the faces of The Talkers. Then then ushers would politely but firmly tell The Talkers to leave the theater. The Talkers did not get a refund on their tickets.
But nowadays movie theaters have become complete chatter-fests. The worst are the “Dine-In Theaters”, where you can order a meal delivered to your seat. It has become difficult to actually hear or see the movie itself. While you are trying to concentrate on key plot points, people are loudly ordering chicken nuggets from the waiter, or else using the lights on their iPhones to read the menus in the darkened theater.
You would think there would be a lull in the talking once the food arrives, but that is not the case. Theaters are now designed to make people feel like they are at home in their own living rooms or kitchens watching T.V. Given that vibe, it is not surprising that people act like they are at home. They talk loudly to each other throughout the film, and often turn on bright iPhones to text their friends. All sense of etiquette while being in a public place has apparently vanished from the Earth.
The theater owners are partly to blame. For people to act like they are in a special place, they need to feel like they are in a special place. When I was a kid, movie theaters were giant, spotless and gorgeous, with names like “The Palace”. There was one giant screen and the floors were not sticky. Now they have names like “Theater 12 on Route 46”, with many small screens jammed into a building that is basically a warehouse.
Let’s bring back a little magic into the movie-going experience. Bring back Palace-like theaters, clean floors and uniformed ushers. Above all, let’s get rid of the Dine-In Theaters. Maybe then we can all enjoy watching the beautiful quiet ending to a romantic love story without hearing someone slurping up nacho cheese fries at the same time.
Of course, this will never happen. The old time movie palaces have disappeared; along with quiet audiences and real butter on the popcorn. Call me a curmudgeon, but I think it is sad that today’s movie audiences don’t even realize what they missed.