Mark Wilson and I are simpatico when it comes to handling movie theater talkers. I agree with everything he suggests. On Wednesday my friend and I plan on seeing Avatar at the local IMAX theater, and if anyone dares to speak during the movie, I will take immediate action, employing some of Wilson’s suggestions with my own if necessary. Normally, a simple but stern reminder of theater etiquette is enough to quiet down the average movie talker, but on more than one occasion, I have been forced into more drastic measures.
My wife and I were watching The Village a few years ago when a roving band of teenagers wandered into the theater, called out for a guy named Hector, and then left. They returned a few minutes later, stood near the door, and giggled before leaving again. Several minutes later they returned for a third time, taking seats in the front row and resuming their conversations. I waited for a couple minutes, hoping they they would calm down, and when they did not, I took action.
I walked down to the front row, took up a position in front of the group, leaned in, and whispered, “You can shut up and stay, or you can leave now. But if you stay and keep on talking, I will make it my primary mission in life to get you kicked out of the theater, even if I have to lie to do it.”
They exited immediately.
Several years ago, I was watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies with a girlfriend. The movie had been running for about five minutes and two young women sitting a couple rows behind had failed to end their conversation, even after I asked them to stop. Frustrated and angry, I stood up, turned to the women (and the audience in general), and said in a loud voice, “Can we all agree that these two women need to shut up now or leave the theater?”
A smattering of tentative applause quickly crescendoed into a unanimous ovation by my fellow patrons, immediately shaming the women into silence.
I admit that there’s a small part of me that sometimes hopes to run into callous, inconsiderate movie talkers, just so I can pull stunts like those I’ve described above.