The rules of engagement

With Reel Time settling into its new home, it seems as good a time as any for us all to get to know each other better. In the spirit of openness I’m going to admit something: I’m a bit of a cinema snob.

Yes, I have a cinema-going routine which up till now I’ve kept to myself. Firstly, I hate the adverts. I always try to judge a film’s start time so that I miss all those ads for new cars (I take the bus), posh ice cream (you can’t beat a strawberry mivvy) or hair care products (just look at my photo to see how little I need pro-vitamins) but still manage to catch the trailers.

Next, I have to sit as close to the middle centre as possible, preferably with a seat free beside me and a couple of empty seats in front. Finally, if I treat myself to a popcorn I try to stop eating at the quiet bits of the film so as not to drown out the dialogue for myself or fellow audience members.

It’s a comprehensive list built up after years of practice and it usually goes to plan, give or take the odd mishap.

Recently, I arrived at a film a few minutes late to find that it was nearly sold out. Scanning the rows for a decent seat, I soon found myself wedged in between a rather large gent on my right and a girl on my left.

This would have been just about bearable, but the man’s girlfriend/wife to his right was soon delving into her bag to find sweets with wrappers so noisy they’re banned in many civilised nations, while he slumped down into his seat, sending his elbow knocking into mine so that he took full ownership of the armrest.

On the one hand he was well within his rights to make the most of the seat he’d paid for. On the other I was well within mine to accidentally spill my medium-sized coke into his lap, ice cubes and all.

Though my cinema rules didn’t help me on this occasion I still think they’re a good idea, perhaps vital in these days of dodgy adverts and lax sweetie unwrapping. I’m also sure I’m not alone in having them – am I?

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4 thoughts on “The rules of engagement

  1. Adam Bowie says:

    One other rule that need adhering to:

    Not checking your texts/email during the film. I've told people off in roughly half of the recent films I've seen if they're using their phone while I'm trying to concentrate. Guess what? That bright glowing screen is really distracting in a cinema. A loud “Will you switch your phone off? It's very distracting” tends to do the trick.

    I also recently sat in a cinema and behind me heard what sounded like somebody very slowly opening a bottle of Coke. But the escaping gas made such a hissing noise he stopped. Then he'd try again. Stop. Repeat. And so on. I began to wonder exactly how much he'd shaken up his bottle of Coke as this went on for some time. People turned around and looked at him accusingly. All very distracting.

    It was only at the end of the film that I realised it wasn't a bottle of Coke or other soft drink. It was his earphones for the hearing loop in the cinema. Something had malfunctioned, and that hissing noise wasn't gas escaping, but “white noise” coming out the earphones which he was trying to cover up!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have a couple of issues also…..some of them regarding cinema experiences;)

    Popcorn: it's a one bite snack – grab popcorn, open mouth, insert popcorn, close mouth, then chew. NOT scavenging for one “special” popcorn in the dark cardboard bucket before eating it bite by bite, chewing with mouth open.

    Wrapping: if it can be heard moving over talk, it can be heard over talk in the dark. No hiding sound through affecting light.
    If I wanted to hear the noise of unwrapping the chances are I'd have a desire to enjoy the content too. Except I'd not want the equivalent of a full three course meal while watching a movie. Ever.

    Lights: If I wanted to have funny lights, to use my mobile phone and have other people communicating left right and centre, I'd be be outside and not inside the cinema.

    I'd thus like to suggest whatever you do, make sure it does not affect other people who have equally invested time and money to enjoy a big screen event.

    And cinema ushers should step up their game, thank you.

  3. Mobile phones in the cinema – brighter than a torch in the X-Files.

  4. Ross says:

    As fascistic as it might sound a quick scan across the cinema when entering the screen should allow for easy identification of potential troublemakers/noise-mongers and, where possible, you can then sit elsewhere. One of the best experiences I had recently was when Cineworld put on multiple screenings of Quantum of Solace at the same time and pre-sorted and split audiences into (roughly) couples/oldies and youngsters/large groups. Troubling in terms of profiling, but it works for me even if it's only 50% effective. Shame the film was mince though.

    I usually like to sit at the back row, top of the aisle for legroom purposes as well as having the bonus of no-one in front and no-one behind to wind me up. I'm very particular about not wanting anyone to distract me during the film. That means glowing phones (especially), chatting (even when you think you're whispering, a low murmur still counts) and the smell of rancid hot dogs.

    I'm also a strong advocate of personal space. I realise that I'm not entitled to a free seat on all sides, in every direction (unless I've paid for them) but if there are free seats everywhere, don't sit right next to me. I can't understand why anyone would want to sit so close to someone else…

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