Movie theater patrons are the worst. The. Worst.

by Sonny Bunch on December 19, 2012

So look. There’s nothing new in the post that follows. But perhaps you’ll indulge me for just a moment? I need to vent.

The first thing you need to understand is that film critics are spoiled. We see films before they’re released, for free, and in very controlled circumstances. The best screenings are critics-only. Sorry, but it’s true: we’re a better class of viewer. We’d rather horribly burn to death than yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater because yelling in movie theaters is rude. After the critics-only screenings come the critics+audience screenings, and these can be hit or miss. Sometimes the audiences are fine. Sometimes they’re terrible. The terrible audiences tend to be drawn from radio stations. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself.

I recently took in a screening of Skyfall a couple of weekends after the film had opened. The theater was crowded, just about sold out. As the lights were preparing to dim, a mother sat down next to my wife and I. With her 4-year-old son. On her lap. Playing a video game.

Now. I almost have a hard time getting angry about a situation like this. The boy was relatively well behaved—quiet, minded his own business, not too fidgety—and I felt more pity than anything else. Single mother, likely. Doesn’t get too many nights out, I bet. Maybe the sitter canceled at the last second. And the kid was remarkably good, all things considered. But only because he was playing with what amounted to a f—ing flashlight in a darkened movie theater. Let’s not even get into the fact that Skyfall simply isn’t age-appropriate for a small child.

Look. Lady. I’m sorry your life sucks. I really and truly am. But that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to the rest of the patrons in that movie theater to make their lives suck too. The amount of rudeness it takes to think that is appropriate … I just, I don’t even know, man.

Like I said, though, I had a hard time getting past pity and into anger. I reserve my anger for special cases. Like tonight, which happened to be a critic’s screening (complete with terrible radio station audience) for Jack Reacher.

I save my anger for the slack-jawed yokels who go to the theater and jabber endlessly throughout.

I save my anger for people who think that a loud whisper isn’t annoying.

I save my anger for the f—king morons who think they’re clever and try to guess what’s happening on the screen three seconds from now. (“Aw, hell, he’s gon’ be behind the car! [wrong] No, he’s in it! [wrong] [character shows up in front of the car] Oh shit, there he is in front, ah!”) WHY ARE YOU GODDAMN IDIOTS TRYING TO GUESS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS? Is this an event in the Idiot Olympics I’m simply unaware of? Is it some sort of elaborate mating ritual? What am I missing?

I save my anger for the people who yell “DAAAAAMMMMNNNN” every time something happens.

I save my anger for the women who make that noise, I’m not quire sure how to reproduce it via the written word, but it’s kind of a TTT noise. Put your tongue up against your top teeth and, I dunno, hiss. Or tick. Suck in. I could make the sound for you in person, if’n we ever meet.

I save my anger for the jokesters who quip between each other. “Oh shit, it’s Frick and Frack HAHAHAHA we so funny!” No you’re not you’re terrible and die oh my god just shut up and die.

I save my anger for the jackasses who talk, constantly, and then do so louder after someone asks them to knock it off because “OH NO YOU DIDN’T TELL ME TO SHUSH. You are stuck up!”

I save my anger for the people who get up with minutes left in the film, barge into the seats in front of them, and then stalk off down the aisle stomping all over people as their fat asses waddle away.

You people are the worst. You are awful, no-good, terrible human beings whose rudeness is exceeded only by your ignorance. If you were to all die in a horrible car accident, I would not shed a tear. I don’t necessarily want this to happen, mind you. But I wouldn’t be sad if it did. Please: do the rest of us a favor and either wait for films to come out on DVD or organize your own private outings where you can gather with like-minded assholes and chit chat until your heart is content. Jump off a cliff and into a pile of rusty nails, please. Suck on poison. Just leave me be when I’m in my temple. It’s not too much to ask. I don’t go to your nightclubs and muck the place up by reading a book and being quiet. I ask that you do me the simple courtesy of behaving like you weren’t raised by a pack of wolves when you’re in the movie theater.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe December 20, 2012 at 3:46 am

Are you certain the producers didn’t hand-select the audience to divert your attention away from the fact that Tom Cruise is a foot too short to be Jack Reacher?


Ciko December 20, 2012 at 6:51 am

It’s like I wrote this article. I thought I was the only one who thought this way.


Kris December 20, 2012 at 8:57 am



Alan December 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

Yup, well said.

You forgot the part where they crinkled plastic loudly, chomped on greasy popcorn, and repeatedly wiped their greasy hands on their pants.


Stephen Smoot December 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Been to the Gallery Place. Useless place to see a movie. My family and I got up and left a good movie because of the stupidity. Only time we shell out $40 to see a movie now is when it’s been out a long time. We also only go to small town theatres during the day because they are deserted late in a movie’s run.


Dr. Jonathan Crane December 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I’m applauding in my office right now.


Fake Herzog December 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

Based on your description of the audience, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that most of the offenders were black. This is a problem I found I had when I used to see movies in the city with black patrons — they just react publicly to movies differently than white people. However, I also have noticed the phenomenon of single mothers and/or couples of all races taking their kids to age inappropriate movies — I have crossed past the pity stage into anger and do not hesitate to say something to them if their little ones start to act up (and sometimes I’ll just say something anyway if the movie is so wildly inappropriate that it just beggars belief). I know this makes me into some sort of ‘judgemental’ monster, but I don’t care — we must restore decorum and respect in our public spaces and I take Charles Murray’s call to action seriously — it is my job to educate the proles!!!


HayZeus January 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm

On the bright side, there’s an Alamo Drafthouse opening in Ashburn this spring and they’re one of the few chains in the Magnited States of America that actually kicks people out for talking and texting. Not sure if that’s going to be near enough to you to make the trip but if it is I’d recommend it. I don’t go anywhere else these days if I can help it!


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