21 March 2013

Where has Movie Theater Etiquette Gone - Part III

Now playing here at the Edward Ringwald Blog:  Where has Movie Theater Etiquette Gone, Part III.

The place:  AMC Veterans 24 Theatres, located at the Anderson Road exit on the Veterans Expressway in Tampa.

The movie:  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a comedy about two superstar magicians that ruled the Las Vegas Strip for many years despite facing competition from a street magician that wanted to take magical illusions to the most extreme.  I did not believe the negative reviews in the St. Petersburg Times - I read about it online on my laptop during my lunch break and I thought it was a must see.

So, I set out across the Howard Frankland Bridge and exit Interstate 275 at Exit 39, the trusty exit for not only the Veterans Expressway but for Tampa International Airport as well as FL 60.  Northbound on the Veterans Expressway (FL Toll 589) past Hillsborough Avenue and Waters Avenue to the Anderson Road Toll Plaza and the exit for Anderson Road.  Once through the toll plaza and the mandatory beep meaning that the Florida DOT took my toll, it's a right curve from the left lanes going over the northbound lanes of the Veterans Expressway and - within a minute or two - AMC Veterans 24 Theatres.

Once there, pick up tickets that I ordered online (sure beats standing in the box office line!).  Hand tickets to the ticket taker.  Head over to the concession stand and then to the auditorium for the movie.  The usual AMC Theatres stuff:  First Look, reminders from AMC about safety as well as patron conduct such as no cell phone use or texting during the movie, then trailers for upcoming movies.

After almost 15 minutes of movie trailers, the feature presentation.  Unfortunately, trouble was brewing on the horizon right after the movie started, reminiscent of an experience I had almost a year ago when I went to AMC Veterans 24 Theatres to see Bully, as I explained in Where has Movie Theater Etiquette Gone:  The Sequel.

I was enjoying every minute of the movie when a group of teenagers came in and had the nerve of chattering since the movie started, not to mention the use of an Apple iPad that I noticed.  I politely asked these teenagers to please keep the chatter down but the teenagers got more impolite and rude, even resorting to using foul language.

That was it.  I ended up stepping outside the auditorium to speak to the usher on duty as well as the manager on duty and explained the situation.  Immediately staff and security were dispatched to the auditorium in order to deal with the situation; the manager on duty offered me a refund but I wanted to go back in and see the rest of the movie.  When I got back in I noticed that the noisy teenagers were gone - and I was able to enjoy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone without any distractions.

Needless to say, I ended up seeing the movie again the next day because of my having to step out of the auditorium to deal with a noisy patron issue at my expense.  After all, you pay for a movie and you are entitled to see the movie you paid admission for without any distractions whatsoever.  I still remembered what happened to the man who was serving in the United States Marines, Federico Freire, coming back from a tour of duty in Iraq when he and his wife, Kalyn, went to a Bradenton area movie theater in December 2010 and encountered a group of teenagers inside who insisted on chattering throughout the movie and both asked the teenagers to be quiet, only to be met with retaliation from the teenagers once outside the theater, according to this Bay News 9 article.

At least Federico and Kalyn Freire stood up for their rights to see a movie at the Royal Palm 20 Theatres in Bradenton without any distractions.  I agree with you 150 percent on that.

I got to admit it, the staff and management at AMC Veterans 24 Theatres in Tampa will go out of their way to make your movie going experience more enjoyable.  That being said, AMC Veterans 24 Theatres needs to be commended - from the staff and management all the way to the on duty security staff - for taking the appropriate action promptly when it comes to patron conduct, especially conduct when the movie is playing.  Speaking of the security presence, it makes going to the movies much more safer and enjoyable.

Unfortunately there are a lot of people in today's world that do not have any manners whatsoever.  Contrast this to the era in which I was raised in a better mannered and civilized world, an era before American Idol, instant gratification, Facebook and cell phones.

As I mentioned in Where has Movie Theater Etiquette Gone:  The Sequel, more needs to be done to address the issue of people who do not observe proper movie theater etiquette besides the individual theater manager who is ultimately responsible for the so many patrons that come to attend a movie and make the moviegoing experience to its fullest. Here in Florida I feel that our legislators need to enact laws dealing with the deliberate disruption of a movie theater when a movie is in progress, and I don't care if this sounds like governmental intrusion:

On the first violation, a civil infraction on the first offense with a $100 penalty.

On a subsequent violation within one year it should be a criminal misdemeanor of the second degree carrying a penalty of $500 and/or jail time of up to 6 months in the county jail, plus a ban on attending any - and I mean any - movie theater in the state for up to one year which is imposed by the judge. That ban would start from the moment the person is released from jail and/or released from probation, much like the mandatory 10 day impoundment of a motor vehicle for conviction of a DUI charge, which starts after release. Moreover, the judge can also impose mandatory restitution to a movie theater that has had to refund or issue readmission passes to patrons that have had to jump ship from the movie theater due to misconduct.

Like I mentioned previously, if you want to bring back civility and respect to movie theaters, please make it known to the general manager at the movie theater you go to, especially one you go to on a regular basis. Additionally, write your legislators in Tallahassee and demand better laws on enforcement of proper etiquette in movie theaters (and I mean laws that better deal with the subject, not the use of existing turn-good-people-into-second-class-citizen laws on the books such as Florida's Section 810.09, Florida's Trespassing Law).

Want proof on criminal laws that deal with a specific subject?  Look at Section 871.01 of the Florida Statutes - this law deals with disruption of a church service.  The same thing can be applied to movie theaters as far as disruption during the movie by chattering patrons is concerned.

Now that we're on the subject of movie theater etiquette, here are a few pointers that are good to know when you go to the movies, whether it's the multiplexes of AMC Theatres and AMC's Veterans 24 in Tampa or the one to two screen walk in theater in your area:

1.  Turn off that cell phone, BlackBerry, iPad, Droid or whatever when you enter the theater auditorium.  Better yet, lock up that cell phone in your vehicle out of sight.

2.  Your ticket only allows you to see a movie at a particular time and only within a particular auditorium.  This information is printed on your ticket when you obtain it from the box office or the ticket kiosk.  Your ticket does not allow you to hop from auditorium to auditorium; if you want to see another movie the same day at the theater be sure to purchase a ticket for the other movie too.  Auditorium hopping is grounds for exclusion from a theater without refund.

3.  When the movie starts, please observe silence during the feature presentation.  Your fellow movie goers will thank you.  Like AMC Theatres says, it's movie time, not cell phone or texting time or whatever.

4.  If you have a group of people that want to attend a movie, call ahead of time and find out if your theater will make arrangements so that your group can sit together during the show.  Please, don't show up with your little group right when the movie starts and chase other people out of their seats.  Unless told to do so by someone in authority at the movie theater such as an uniformed usher, I will not yield my seat to your group that decides to show up at the very last minute.

Now there is a meaning to come early to get a good seat.  In fact, if you buy your movie tickets on Fandango or MovieTickets.com you are advised to show up well in advance to get a good seat.

If everyone can follow these simple tips I presented above for going to the movies then everyone will be happy and at the same time everyone will get their money's worth for the price of admission.

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