Almost Ginger’s Guide to Cinema Etiquette

On this fine Sunday, I’d like to talk about a pretty controversial issue to any cinema goer, whether the frequent or occasional. I can see it coming now, not everyone is going to agree with what I have to say about the correct way to behave whilst watching a film in a cinema. Not kicking the back of the chair in front is an absolute given, as is putting your phone on silent, not throwing things, generally not being a group of 12 year olds… But where do you stand on the other important issues regarding cinema etiquette? Here’s my thoughts.

True Romance - apparently smoking is allowed in this cinema?!
© 1993 – Warner Bros

Food

Cinemas make a lot, if not most, of their money from selling obscenely overpriced food. And I mean obscene. There’s a shop right outside my cinema where I can buy a sharing bag of Galaxy Minstrels from for £2 or less, not your £4.50 nonsense. Suffice to say, I generally bring my own food. I know, I know. I’ll watch the film legally on the big screen to support my film industry, but I’ll usually pass on the food to save a few quid in doing so. I’ve come to terms with my morals on that one.

In one of the cinemas in Manchester, it’s totally fine to bring your own food and drink, and in my other regular I have actually TRIED to find the signs that says I can’t bring any food in, but I can’t see anything soooo… That’s okay, right?

To eat or not to eat?

The second issue with food is, of course, the noise it can make. I think I once read somewhere that noted UK film critic Mark Kermode does not condone anything louder than a bread roll, or something to that effect. The russling of packets, the crunch of popcorn, the slurping of slushies, the cinema can be a masticating orchestra pit. But the cinema actually sell the popcorn, so I would say it’s clear you just have to grin and bear it when someone refuses to close their mouth and swallow between mouthfuls.

But my mother always taught me that you should only eat noisy food during the loud bits, and I have to say I agree. Yes, even I who bought a medium size box of popcorn to Lincoln (2012) and didn’t even eat 3/4 of it because there simply weren’t enough loud moments. If you’re going to watch a quiet film, I say don’t buy popcorn. Watching Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)? You’re probably fine to eat at your heart’s content throughout the whole thing.

Your cheese puffs offend my ears

The cinema goer should feel more than comfortable to open russly packets before the movie actually starts. I was sitting in Les Miserables (2012) and my friend brought cheese puffs, so she rightly opened the packet before the movie started to minimise noise during the actual film. Cue the elderly women in front turning around to give her evils as if to say, “You know, some people actually like to watch the BBFC certificate in absolute silence!” Take a break, ladies, would you rather she insult your ears with her crisps when you’re trying to concentrate on the dulcet tones of Hugh Jackman?

Burn After Reading seems to wrongly condone riotous outbursts in movie theatres
© 2008 – Focus Features

Talking

You would think it’s universal that, once the film actually starts, you zip it until the end of the film. Maybe the odd, sly whisper, but nothing more and certainly nothing anyone else can hear, right? We have all dealt with the talkers. They’re usually teenagers in groups on Saturday afternoons, in which case, you chose to watch  Avenger’s Assemble (2012) at that time so you probably deserved it.

Shouting Mr Banks

Although, I did not expect two elderly women (sorry, you’re getting all the hate tonight!) practically battling with the volume of the actors in Saving Mr Banks (2013) shouting at each other at the tops of their voices, I’d never witnessed anything like it. The movie’s loud because we all want to hear it and, er, we really don’t want to hear you.

Woman 1: “WHO’S THAT ACTOR? HE’S IN EVERYTHING.”

Woman 2: “I’M NOT SURE, HE’S NOT NORMALLY WEARING A MUSTACHE…”

Woman 1: “GEORGE CLOONEY?”

It’s Tom Hanks, it’s bloody Tom Hanks…

Trailers are NOT adverts

Now, talking through the adverts is a whole different ball game. Personally, I’m not too fussed about people talking through adverts of Freederm spot cream and whatever Vauxhall is doing with themselves these days, but I do like to watch trailers for new movies. I usually like to play a game with the person I came with and tell them the name of the film as early as I can guess it, so I whisper it in their ear. I admit that in particularly busy screenings, absolute silence just isn’t feasible.

My friend and I went to watch X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) last year on the release date and the screen was just jam packed. The lights were kept up during the trailers as people kept flooding in and with all of the commotion, you could never hope for silence. So I have to say, it depends, but I do like my trailers in silence.

Popcorn is a firm NO in quiet, dramatic films
Courtesy of Matt Carmen

Movement

You gotta go when you gotta go, right? You go for the duo large popcorn and large Coke Zero, you might not be able to hold it through all 180-odd minutes of Interstellar (2014) and might have to leave the cinema for a few minutes. I don’t think this is something that can be helped, even in teeny cinemas when you have to clamber over people to get out.

Sit down and SHUT UP

However, once is enough. In fact, last night whilst watching Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), all of the seats were assigned which is unusual in some cinemas, but made sense in what turned out to be a particularly busy screening. During the advertisements, 3 men went to sit right in front of me, and, not only did they take ages to sit down, they decided they had got the wrong seats, and had to move. Had this been when the film had already started, this would have been more than unacceptable. The line “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP” from Forrest Gump (1994) comes to mind.

Like annoyingly tall people at gigs, I’ve learnt to deal with those who don’t know how to behave in the cinema and enjoy the film regardless, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all followed the same rules? At the end of the day, we’re all paying customers. Why waste the expense if you can avoid the annoying-ness at home?

I’m sure there are many other annoying things cinema goers do whilst watching films, I’d love to hear about some of your experiences!

Want MORE?

My first time going to the cinema alone and how it made me a better person

My favourite road movies (so far!)

Films that will make you want to travel

A-Z Guide of Film Terms to Fake It as a Film Buff

My Childhood movies that made me love cinema

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My comprehensive guide to cinema etiquette and how you should behave in the company of other paying customers!

Rebecca

I'm the human and hair behind Almost Ginger. I'm a cinephile travel obsessive vegetarian currently residing in Manchester.

6 thoughts on “Almost Ginger’s Guide to Cinema Etiquette

  • February 2, 2015 at 3:48 am
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    I have to agree with you on those teenager groups, especially if you’re overhearing their entire conversation and have to suppress your urge to correct them (especially when they’re talking about movie-related subjects that you know is wrong) or to shush them because you don’t want to come off as an elitist in the cinema (and have to repeatedly ask for them to keep quiet). In my experience, the best time to watch a movie would be the first showing of the day, as you’re guaranteed less people with more space (unless the movie is a big blockbuster flick).

    Reply
    • February 3, 2015 at 8:13 am
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      Yeah it’s a tough one because if they are really rowdy, chances are they aren’t going to react well to a telling off and you risk further disrupt to everyone else! I always try and go straight after work about 6pm and I’ve not had many issues…

      Reply
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  • March 2, 2016 at 1:43 am
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    Nice tips! I guess I’m pretty lucky when going to the theaters. Whether it’s been packed or empty with a few stragglers, there’s never really been a bad disturbance while watching a movie. I wish people at the cinemas were more respectful because it’d help keep the spirit of going out somewhere for a movie (instead of streaming at home) alive.

    Reply
    • March 3, 2016 at 5:22 pm
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      Oh they are very few and far between, usually everyone is pretty decent! There’s just the odd few but they enrage me so much!

      Reply

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