If you read my last Cathy’s Opinions post about two weeks ago on “What I Love About the Movie Theatre Experience“, you might remember that I teased this next post on what I think is respectful movie theatre behaviour. In all honesty, this idea was inspired by a popular tweet going around Twitter (I seem to get a lot of post ideas from Twitter, don’t I?) by a well known movie reviewer, Matt Ramos aka @therealsupes. He posted a video of himself reacting to the Black Adam (2022) mid-credit scene, and let’s just say his reaction was a bit…rambunctious. If you’re on Twitter and you follow movie bloggers/reviewers like me, you’ve likely seen this video circulating around the site and have read the incredibly negative comments in response to it. But if you’re not on Twitter, you can check out the tweet and video here:

So now that you’ve seen the video, I’m sure you’ve formulated your own opinion about it – was it way too much? Was it an acceptable response? Would you be annoyed by it? If you’re wondering what my own thoughts on his behaviour are, let’s just say there’s multiple different thoughts floating around in my mind. While I’m absolutely not a fan of the clearly staged, overly zealous, block other people’s view reaction, what I will say is that it’s at least done after the actual movie has finished. If this was done during the middle of the movie…boy, would that be a different story. Twitter has had its own thoughts about this reaction though, with many commenters telling him to “be more respectful of others” and to “put his phone away”.

While I don’t want to be too harsh or rude about it, honestly, I agree with the people who think he should’ve been more polite to the people around him. I love a good audience reaction when something cheer-worthy happens on screen, but not one that blocks other people’s view and is excessively over the top. As someone who loves going to the theatres and can see the value in watching movies with a packed audience, I still think there’s certain rules we should all abide by. We’re all here to enjoy the movies so let’s be respectful to one another so we can all have a good time together, am I right? Let’s just get right into it; here is what I personally think respectful movie theatre etiquette is:

1. Put your phone away

Look, we live in a world where cellphones have become a necessity, so unfortunately for many movie-goers, we’re familiar with having to deal with that one guy or girl who’s busy texting or scrolling through social media. In my perfect world, people wouldn’t be on their phones and would respectfully put them away as soon as the movie starts because we’re here to enjoy a movie, not post about it. Is it really that hard to put your phone down for two hours or so to enjoy other forms of entertainment?

But if you’re really going to be that guy, please do everyone a favour and at least keep your phone on silent and turn the brightness down to the lowest possible setting. There’s nothing more annoying than being taken out of a movie because of someone’s phone repeatedly ringing or being distracted by the glaring brightness of someone else’s phone screen.

2. No talking/only minimal whispering

The movie theatre really isn’t the best place for you to be engaging in a full on conversation, so if you’ve got something you want to talk about with your friend, please do it elsewhere. Although people are generally pretty good about this, I have been in a couple instances where there’s a group or pair of people who disrespectfully just won’t stop talking. And honestly, it feels even ruder when it’s not even about the movie on screen. This one’s really simple – movies are meant for watching, not talking.

The reason why I included the “minimal whispering” part is because I understand the eagerness you might feel in wanting to share a quick exclamation with a friend about a particularly exciting or mind-blowing scene. If you want to lean over and quietly whisper “that was really cool!” or even “omg!”, that’s honestly fine with me. Personally, as long it’s a short exchange that’s whispered quietly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, sharing the moment with friends or family is all part of the experience too.

3. Be mindful when eating

If you’re like me, you LOVE a good buttery popcorn to go with your movie. That being said, while you’re happily munching away, don’t forget that it’s important to be respectful when eating too. For one (and this one’s obvious), please don’t chew with your mouth open and definitely don’t purposely chew loudly.

Here’s one that might be easily forgotten (and I’ve honestly been guilty of this once or twice), but remember to open any loud food packaging before the movie starts. Things like bags of candy can be really noisy to crack open once the movie’s started, so try to do it beforehand. I’ve definitely faced the awkward silence of having to open a bag of candy during the opening of a movie, and trust me, that rustling of the plastic echoes in the theatre somehow. This one’s not a serious deal or anything, so if you forget, just try to open it quickly and get it over with.

4. Be wary of people’s personal space

Now this one just goes without saying: people do not enjoy having to sit in a tight, uncomfortable, or invasive space. While I’m pretty fortunate to have a theatre near me that has completely renovated all their seats into recliner chairs with decent spacing, other theatres like Cineplex still have those classic red seats which can feel pretty crowded in a packed theatre. And with COVID-19 being a genuine concern, being respectful of other’s personal space is more important than ever before.

The most important thing to me here is that you’re not being selfish and trying to take up all the space for yourself. Don’t hog the arm rests and don’t spread your legs out an excessive amount (don’t kick the chairs in front of you!). Everyone’s in the same boat here so let’s make it as comfortable as possible for everyone involved. Now if you’re a taller or bigger individual, that doesn’t mean you deserve to be stressed about taking up more space and others should recognize that as well. The point I’m trying to make here is that there absolutely is a difference between purposefully being selfish and just minding your own business.

5. Try to arrive on time

Although this one’s not as much of a big deal compared to the others, it’d still be nice if you could try to make it on time to your movie showing. The reason being, no one really enjoys having to take your eyes off the movie to make space to let others pass especially if you’re in a pretty tight and crowded seating area. While you only get your view blocked for a short moment of time, it is still a distraction. I’m the type of person who really tries to immerse myself in the story, so my ideal movie experience is one without interruptions.

But I’m also totally aware that things happen and sometimes we get caught in situations that make us a bit late. That’s why this one doesn’t really bother me, I just thought it’d be a nice note to add on this list. Just try to be as quiet as possible and respectful of others when you enter the theatre if you’re late, and try to get to your seat without causing too much of a disruption to others.

6. Be respectful with your loud reactions

As I’ve mentioned before, part of of what I enjoy during big blockbusters or exciting movies are the theatre reactions. If something truly amazing or cheer-worthy happens on screen, I’m all for the collective celebration and shared excitement. However, there can be a wrong way to do it too – kind of like the video I showed you earlier on in this post. While I can appreciate clapping and cheering, I don’t think it’s necessary to stand up and make a huge ruckus. At that point, you’re just blocking people’s views and possibly getting in the way of those next to you.

Basically, I feel like cheering for a scene in the theatre should be relatively quick given that I want to be able to hear what’s happening next. If we’re celebrating for minutes while simultaneously missing five minutes of the actual movie, something about that doesn’t seem quite right. I personally enjoy it when cheers or hollers are quick and responsive to a particular scene, meaning nothing gets taken away from the film in the process. And hey, you really don’t need to scream or yell like you’re trying to reach someone on Mars.

And those are my top rules to being a respectful audience member in movie theatres! I hope everything I said was clear and made sense, and hopefully, they resonated with you too. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – do you agree with me or would you change any of my rules? Is there anything else you’d like to add that you feel is especially important to your movie going experience? Let me know what you think respectful movie theatre etiquette is yourself!