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Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Theater Gives Texters the Boot 370 370

Hugh Pickens writes "Ever been annoyed during that nail-biting darkened hallway scene by someone turning on their phone to send a text? Well, don't mess with Texas or you may end up on the screen in a public service announcement. Alamo Drafthouse, a local chain of dine-and-screen movie theaters in Austin, Texas, has long waged a war against impolite moviegoers booting out customers who talk or text during performances. Phoebe Connelly writes that according to Tim League, the Drafthouse's founder, a woman was recently warned twice about texting during a screening, and then, in accordance with company policy, was escorted out without a refund. 'I don't think people realize that it is distracting,' says League. 'It seems like nothing, but if you spend as much time as I do at the movies, you realize the entire theater sees it and it pulls you out of the movie experience. It's every bit as intrusive as talking.' The irate customer called up the Alamo Drafthouse and left a profanity-laced (and perhaps slightly inebriated) message decrying the theater's policies, but the theater got the last laugh as they took the audio of the woman's voicemail, transcribed it, and turned it into an in-house preview [tl: Note, YouTube video contains some profanity] that warns theatergoers against cell phone use during movies. 'Part of what we're trying to do is have a comedic message about what to us is a very serious issue,' says League, declining to give any more details about the woman at the center of the recent PSA."
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Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Theater Gives Texters the Boot

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  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @04:59PM (#36413302) Homepage

    Before the trailers there are multiple announcements (some quite amusing) that spell out very clearly that texting, talking, or using your bright-as-twenty-suns cellphone in any capacity are NOT tolerated.

    In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater), so chances are she came in mid-movie and didn't see the trailers or the warnings.

  • Re:horseshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @05:34PM (#36413526)
    No kidding, Jesus. Even if you're tethered to a phone for some reason, there's no reason you shouldn't be prepared to inobtrusively slip out to the lobby. It's not exactly difficult, either.

    For example, a friend of mine once worked as an emergency responder for the Red Cross. Part of that was to carry the emergency contact phone wherever she went while she was on call. If she was going to be somewhere that respectful quiet was expected, like a church, or the theatre, or a classroom, she made damned certain that the thing was set to vibrate. She also made sure to arrive at the venue early, so that she could get an aisle seat and, if she felt the phone vibrate, she could slip out to the lobby without shoving her ass in a row-full of faces. As far as anyone who wasn't in her group was concerned, she would just be politely nipping out to the bathroom. No ringtones, no sudden glare, no conversations, not difficult.

  • by ISurfTooMuch (1010305) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:12PM (#36413746)

    Say what you will about Anderson Cooper, but he rips this drunk chick a new one in this video:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2011/06/07/exp.ac.ridiculist.talk.text.movie.cnn.html [cnn.com]

    I don't live in Austin, but if I visit, I'll make a point to go to this theater.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:21PM (#36413812)

    Sometimes they get violent with me when I'm asking them - pushing me, getting in my face with "what you gonna do about it?", things like that. I am all too willing to stay in their face when that happens - pushing back, telling them I'm going to retaliate, even kill them if they get tough with me. [...] And if someone wants their day ruined by testing whether I'm nuts, they're going to get vastly more trouble than an annoying light in a dark movie theater.

    That made me laugh out loud. The reason these people are behaving this way is precisely because they have the same attitude as you do. They react so bizarrely because they think "hey, don't fuck with me". They react to you because they perceive you to be fucking with them, not because they don't care about other people, and you are doing the same thing. It doesn't matter how polite your words are, if you have in the back of your mind that this person you are interacting with is possibly one of "those aggressive obnoxious people" then they won't react well to you. If you doubt that, see your own emotional reaction to this post, where I put you in the category of these people. I bet you were immediately set in a mindset to disagree with whatever I was saying. That's how it works. You are not suffering these idiots who can't handle a polite request, you are creating their behavior and disrupting everyone else's moviegoing experience. I know I find a fight and someone threatening to kill someone a lot more distracting than a lit cell phone.

  • by pnot (96038) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:57PM (#36414024)

    In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater)

    ... and shortly thereafter says that she didn't know she wasn't meant to be texting. And then proudly declares that she's texted in every other cinema in the area. So I'm going to go right ahead and sound the bullshit horn on this one...

  • Re:horseshit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:00PM (#36414054)

    That's nice and all, you may have earned a night out, but you didn't earn the right to possible annoy someone else who may have an actual reason to check their messages but steps out of the theatre to see what's what.

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:49PM (#36414348)

    The irony being that, although they do have a system to order food and drinks that doesn't necessarily involve talking, frequently one does need to talk. The wait staff is continuously whispering to people to make sure they are receiving the correct order. This is pretty distracting, but then I go to the Alamo Drafthouse for exactly this service and I just have to accept a certain level of distraction.

    I like the Alamo Drafthouse, their "concessions" beat the crap out of the overpriced Cinemark down the street, but one thing you are not getting there is silence and full devotion and reverence to the movie. If anything it's a nod to the fact that many of us in the audience aren't there to watch a movie so much as sit in an air conditioned theater away from our own children, with each other, sharing a relaxing (and typically mind numbing) experience, but also resting the frayed nerves one receives after a week of maximizing shareholder potential, balancing our finances, maintaining our habitat and trying to raise our spawn to be good citizens.

  • by Static (1229) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @08:04PM (#36414464) Homepage

    The purchase of the movie ticket comes with certain obligations on the purchaser. In this cinema chain, one of those is no talking or texting.

    An identical principal applies when I buy a train ticket. On Sydney's trains, you are not allowed to smoke or drink and by purchasing a ticket you agree to those obligations. Get caught and you get thrown off without a refund. In fact, you usually get fined as well.

    There is no reason you should get a refund for not following the obligations attached to the ticket.

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