Walter Mencken 2:27 p.m., June 18
Movie Theatres to Encourage Texting?
It looks as though I'm going to have to start packing a ball peen hammer in my movie theatre survival kit. A multiplex in Bellevue (Washington, not the New York mental hospital) is considering encouraging texting during movies. Why not just put in a line of cellphones and bullhorns at the concession stand?
John Haynes, executive director of the Tateuchi Center, a new-build scheduled to open its doors in 2014, told the New York Times, “This is the wave of the future for the people we worry about attracting." Hey, Haynes -- the wave of the future is empty theatres if you allow this type of boorish conduct to occur in a place where most right-thinking people go to be entertained by the sounds and light show emanating from the screen, not their fellow theatre-dwellers.
Honcho Haynes continues, “Simply forbidding it and embarrassing people is not the way to go." Oh, yes it is. They should exhume William Castle and have him wire every theatre seat across this great land of ours with an electric sensor that zaps each offending texter and talker.
If they want to convert one auditorium to accommodate texters, similar to the way they corral moms and their tots for Crybaby Matinees, that's fine. Encouraging cellphone use throughout an entire multiplex is a form of madness, pure and simple.
There are twelve months in the year. Why does Hollywood limit the release of films geared for adults to November and December? Are movie theatre chains so desperate that they'd stoop this low to attract a younger clientele? Are they that afraid of ineffectual 3D, high ticket prices, and sub-standard service keeping customers at bay? You know how to keep people quietly in their seats? TRAIN YOUR PROJECTION STAFF AND PUT SOMETHING ON THE SCREEN THAT WILL HOLD AN AUDIENCES ATTENTION FOR MORE THAN TEN MINUTES!
Instead of sending out messages that encourage bad behavior, exhibitors should put the pressure on Hollywood to stop viewing multiplexes as Comic Con screening rooms, lay off the sequels for six-year-olds, and populate screens with credible characters and well-plotted, not plodding, storytelling.
Here's how they deal with texters where I hail from. You take 'em in the back room and bada-bing, bada-boom, no more texting.